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Coleman hopes to digitize Stephens art collection

May 15, 2014

The First Gentleman of Stephens College is continuing efforts to centralize, preserve and archive the College’s art collection—and he now has eyes on digitizing the works.
Philip Coleman—husband of President Dianne Lynch—has recruited recent Stephens graduate Chloe Willett to help him log, photograph and share the pieces with the public through an online database using the same software that currently allows online visitors to view pieces from the Stephens College Costume Museum & Research Library. Willett worked for the museum and research library as part of her senior capstone project.
Coleman has been working to identify and centralize artwork at Stephens since 2010. He gave an update of that work at the Alumnae Group of Mid-Missouri’s annual luncheon at the President’s Home today, where visitors could view some of the displayed works.
Roughly half of the 600 individual works of arts on the Stephens campus are flat pieces such as prints, lithographs and drawings. Stephens also has several bronze sculptures, including Larry Young’s bronze “Venus” sculpture displayed at Historic Senior Hall. The College also has many non-European items, including porcelain pieces from China and cultural artifacts from New Guinea.

Coleman mostly has spent his energies on the flat pieces at greatest risk of deterioration—he’s been able to stabilize and properly store hundreds of prints and drawings.
The Stephens collection includes some important works such as a portrait of Pablo Picasso by Salvador Dali, Picasso’s “Faun With Branches” and works by Miró, Ernst, Bingham and Rouault.
“We have some well-known people,” he said. “They are valuable in what they provide the campus aesthetically.”
He praised Lynch for her commitment to preserving artwork, noting that in leaner years, Stephens divested some of the works. That’s not uncommon—Coleman cited several colleges and universities in the past few years that have sold entire collections in order to redirect funding.
“We believe the collection aligns with our mission to help students appreciate art,” he said. “It’s a valuable collection, and we believe it contributes to the legacy of Stephens.”

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