Architectural rendering of the new Krannert Art Museum. Krannert Art Museum Dedication Program, May 1961.

For Immediate Release


Urbana, Ill. — The new Krannert Art Museum at University of Illinois, which will be formally dedicated May 20, will provide a long-sought home for the university's permanent collection of more than 550 works of painting, sculpture, oriental art, prints, crafts, and drawings.

Opening exhibition in the museum's four galleries will be drawn from university art holdings, which include the Merle J. Trees collection of European and American art, the Ewing collection of Balinese and East Asiatic art, and the outstanding collection of Contemporary American Painting and Sculpture.

Dedication program will also include first public showing in the United States of "Christ After the Flagellation," a jamor painting bythe 17th century Spanish artist Bartolome [sic] Esteban Murillo.

The new museum has been named in honor of its principal donor, Herman C. Krannert, Indianapolis, founder of Inland Container Corp. and 1912 graduate of the University of Illinois. He and his wife have made gifts ot the university totalling more than $430,000.

The $500,000 museum is the first major campus building to be financed chiefly by a single alumnus. In addition to Krannert's gift, major contributions were received from the Class of 1908, Mrs. Merle J. Trees, Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Pillsbury, and Chicago Bridge and Iron Foundation.

The two-story museum of white Vermond marble was designed by Ambrose Richardson, former U. of I. faculty member and now partner in Richardson, Severns, Scheeler & Associates, Champaign. Plans were developed by the Chicago architectural firm of Mittelbusher & Tourtelot.

A screen of thousands of interlocking rings of gold anodyzed aluminum covers the front row of windows belonging to the administrative offices. The large vertical screen is reflected in a shallow pool in front of the building.

"Initiation," a massive abstract sculpture designed for the museum by the Italian artist Mirko, will be placed above the reflecting pool at the museum's entrance. The sculpture will be cast in bronze in Rome this summer and brought to campus next fall.

A large glassed-in lounge connects the museum with the new Fine and Applied Arts classroom building, which also will be open for inspection durin ghte dedication program.

Krannert Art Museum's four galleries and central lounge provide about 7,600 square feet of exhibit space. Large corridors also are equipped for installations and movable screens will allow many adjustments in exhibition areas for different displays.

One gallery (34 by 38 feet) will be used for permanent display of the Trees collection. Another gallery of the same size will be for rotating exhibits from the university's permanent collection. A changing exhibition program will be presented in the largest gallery (78 by 54 feet). 

A lower-floor gallery (32 by 17 feet) will be for display of prints and drawings. The central glass-roofed lounge (18 by 40 feet) also will be used for certain exhibits.

The Trees gallery and corridors are finished in dark walnut panelling, while walls in other galleries are covered with bray Belgian linen.

The museum, which has no windows except in offices, is equipped with adjustable incandescent lighting, as well as air-conditioning and humidity-control facilities.

Besides galleries and offices, the museum includes a small auditorium seating 156 persons, seminar and conference room, and ample storage and work rooms. Rolling screens on tracks provide storage space for about 800 paintings.

Until completion of the Krannert Art Museum the University of Illinois found "itself in the ironic position of already possessing an imposing collection of works of art, of conducting one of the largest and most active art schools in the country, of carrying on a vital and continuous exhibition program -- but of having no proper permanent space devoted to gallery purposes," according to Prof. Cecil V. Donovan, the museum's director.

Selections from the university's permanent collection have been lent to other schools, museums, art associations and traveling exhibits in the United States, as well as in Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, and England.

"In fact," Prof. Donovan said, "until the completion of the Krannert Art Museum, our pictures were seen far more frequently in other places than they were at home."

The university's art collection was begun in 1874 by John Milton Gregory, the first regent, who purchased plaster casts of classic sculptural works in Europe.

A year-round program of art exhibitions was developed with the establishment of the College of Fine and Applied Arts in 1931. 

The biennial Festival of Contemporary Arts was begun in 1948 and from its exhibitions of Contemporary American Painting and Sculpture the university has purchased 78 works for its permanent collection.

In 1937 the university receied the nucleus of the art collection of the late Mr. and Mrs. Merle J. Trees, which includes works by such European  masters as Clouet, Rembrandt, Hals, van Ruisdael, Pieter de Hooch, and Romney, and such American artists as Innes, Homer, Wyant, and Blakelock.

A distinguished collection of Far Eastern art was given the university in 1943 by Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Ewing. It includes examples of Indian, Indo-Chinese, Siamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Balinese art.

Last year Mrs. Krannert gave the university funds for purchase of Murillo's "Christ After the Flagellation," which for more than 100 years hung virtually unknown in an Irish country house until it was obtained for the university through Wildenstein and Co., New York.

This painting "will stand out as the most monumental work in the new Krannert Art Museum," according to Dean Allen S. Weller, College of Fine and Applied Arts, and "Will without a doubt attract the greatest interest and attention."