New Collection Will Feature Greek, Etruscan, Roman Art
Fordham University has received the largest gift of art in its history and is creating a museum in the William D. Walsh Family Library to house the collection.
The Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Art, to be dedicated on Dec. 6, will house what had been the collection of alumnus William D. Walsh (FCRH ’51). Walsh, founder and general partner of Sequoia Associates and a longtime benefactor of the University, donated the collection to Fordham in the spring.
In all, more than 200 antiquities dating from the 7th century B.C. through the 3rd century A.D. will go on display in a 4,000-square-foot space on the library’s main floor, making it one of the leading collections of antiquities in the state.
Among some of the items to be displayed are
• a bronze bust of Roman emperor Caracalla of the Severan Dynasty,
circa 200 A.D.;
• several large ceramic vessels from the ancient Etruscans, whose culture
flourished in central Italy in the centuries before the rise of the Roman Empire;
• a nickel-size Athenian silver coin, with an owl insignia, dating from the
5th or 6th century B.C.;
• an 8-foot high male funerary statue from Rome, circa 10 A.D.;
• a marble bust of Augustus, adopted son of Julius Caesar and the first
emperor of Rome.
“This collection is not yet a known entity, but what is important about it is how it represents a span of cultures, periods and mediums,” said Jennifer Udell, the University’s curator of art. “It is the kind of thing that will generate a lot of interest when the museum opens and it will bring people up to the Bronx.”
James McCabe, Ph.D., director of the library, said the new museum will be housed in what was the library’s reading room for current periodicals. The greater availability of publications on the Web, McCabe said, has reduced the amount of printed periodicals the library receives, so the space was readily available.
“We realized the collection was valuable to us and a major addition to New York City,” McCabe said. “It is very nice that we could get it, because it is [also]a teaching tool for our art and classics faculty.”
Walsh, who also has a law degree from Harvard University, is a former assistant U.S. attorney and served as senior vice president and chief administrative officer of Arcata Corp. before founding Sequoia Associates, a private investment firm based in California. In 1997, Walsh donated $10 million toward the construction of the $54 million library, and has also set up an endowment fund for its upkeep. In 2002, Fordham presented Walsh with its Founder’s Award.
The collection had previously been located at Walsh’s home in California, McCabe said, and Fordham art faculty members helped inspect and photograph the antiquities before they were shipped. The bulk of the artwork arrived by truck on June 18.
Some items are still being unpacked and set up for display by special art handlers from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Udell said. The largest piece of art, the funerary statue, will require a special crane to set it properly in place on its pedestal.
McCabe said that the current plan is to allow public access to the museum and to offer areas within the museum as a reading room for students.
The Walsh library has been described as one of the most technologically advanced academic libraries in the country and was ranked fifth in the nation by the Princeton Review in 2003, ahead of the libraries at Yale, Columbia and Harvard universities.