museum gets $2 million collection
Birmingham businessman and Auburn alumnus Bill L. Harbert has
donated a "significant collection of European art"
to The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at AU.
officials say the collection of 14 works includes six works
by Marc Chagall, three by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, two by Salvador
Dalí and one each by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró
and Henri Matisse.
collection was featured in an exhibition entitled French Masterworks
from The Bill L. Harbert Collection, one of the inaugural
exhibitions for the museum's opening on Oct. 3, 2003.
collection has been appraised at $2 million.
gift of this magnitude truly illustrates not only Mr. Harbert's
love of the arts but also his love of Auburn University,"
said Ed Richardson, interim president of AU. "This world-renowned
collection ensures that the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine
Art will continue to be recognized as a source of pride and
cultural enrichment for the Auburn community, the state of
Alabama and region."
an impressive and eclectic collection has been a life-long
pursuit of Harbert. After serving in the infantry in Europe
from 1943-1946, Harbert graduated from Auburn with a degree
in civil engineering in 1948.
with the gift of a painting from his mother 50 years ago,
Harbert spent the past half-century gathering works of art
from around the world.
in the formation of the Harbert Construction Corporation in
1949, he eventually purchased and led the operations of Harbert
International, Inc. and Bill Harbert International Construction,
Inc. Harbert traveled to such diverse locations as Israel,
Ecuador, Colombia, India, Hong Kong, Tanzania, Sudan, Saudi
Arabia, Panama, Trinidad, Angola, Korea, Thailand, Bahrain,
the Marshall Islands and the United Arab Emirates.
nearly every square inch of space in Harbert's home and office
is covered with his collection, much of which was accumulated
during international travels. Although now retired, Harbert
continues to travel extensively and to build his collection.
collection has been in my home and in my office and nobody
could see it," he said. "I donated it to Auburn
so that other people could have an opportunity to enjoy it
as I have.
think the museum (JCSM) is well-run and I like the people
involved in running it. Architecturally, the building and
its galleries are beautifully designed."
Walsh, curator of exhibitions, at the AU museum, says Harbert's
collection complements the museum's permanent collection and
the collecting mission.
late 19th and 20th century paintings and works on paper will
increase the breadth and depth of our collection which is
already strong in American works from that period," she
said. "The addition of such international works of quality
will create an even richer experience for our visitors.