The official opening of the Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Art was celebrated Dec. 6 in the Campbell Atrium of the William D. Walsh Family Library.
On hand to preside over the ceremony was William D. Walsh (FCRH ’51) who, along with his wife, Jane Walsh, donated more than 260 ancient artifacts that comprise the collection, the largest gift of art in Fordham’s history. In addition to this gift, Walsh’s $10 million gift more than a decade ago helped build the library that bears his family’s name.
“Today we gather in this magnificent library, the center of university life, to celebrate yet another gift that Bill and Jane Walsh give to us,” Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, told the gathering of 200 guests that included University trustees, representatives from the city’s cultural and political institutions, faculty, staff, students and members of the Walsh family. “I want them to know that whenever students come into the Walsh Family Library and the Museum, their lives will be enriched beyond measure by art that touches our hearts, engages our minds and consoles our spirits.”
Walsh is a longtime benefactor of the University and a founder and general partner of Sequoia Associates. His love of ancient art is rooted in the classics, which he took an interest in while studying Greek and Latin as a youth. He said that he wanted to leave the collection to Fordham as a teaching tool and for public display.
“If you are a classics major or minor, as I was, you can’t get a feel for classics by translating chapters from Julius Caesar alone,” Walsh said. “Seeing [the objects]brings drama and life to [the classics], and gives people a feel for it.”
Following the ribbon cutting, Father McShane welcomed the attendees into the 4,000-square-foot space, the library’s former periodical reading room.
The collection dates from the 10th century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D., and includes ancient Greek vases, coins, Etruscan pottery and a selection of Roman sculptures, among others items. Highlights of the collection include a bronze head of the emperor Caracalla of the Severan Dynasty, circa A.D. 200, and a large funerary statue dating to the late 1st century B.C.
The collection covers an impressive span of historical periods and mediums of the classical ancient world, according to University curator Jennifer Udell.
The pieces had been housed for decades in Walsh’s home in Menlo Park, Calif., when the philanthropist decided to give the collection away more than a year ago.
“I made up my mind that [Fordham] is the right place,” he said.