Citizens of the Community
Legacy Gifts in Glass
In the early 1990s, when Arnold “Arne” and Doris Roland made a chance visit to a small-town shop in Oregon that sold studio art glass, they knew they had stumbled upon a new passion. Arne recalls he felt “weak in the knees, and I knew I needed to buy it.” His instincts were affirmed by Doris’s enthusiastic thumbs up.
After treating themselves to their first art glass piece, they journeyed on to Seattle, renowned for its important glass schools and studios. A decades-long love for collecting studio art glass was ignited that, by the early 2000s, would see their collection outgrowing their homes.
In 1994, they moved part-time to Santa Fe where, Arne recalls, “We wanted to become citizens of the community. We were most impressed by the Museum of New Mexico institutions, especially the New Mexico Museum of Art and Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.”
Knowing they wanted to share their passion for studio art glass with as many people as possible, and for generations to come, the Rolands committed to a dual-purpose legacy gift. They not only donated a significant portion of their glass collection to the Museum of Art, they established the Arnold and Doris Roland Endowment Fund for the acquisition and care of the museum’s glass collection.
The Rolands generosity gave rise to three of Santa Fe’s most talked about exhibitions. Two held at the Museum of Art—Flux: Reflections on Contemporary Glass in 2008 and The Nature of Glass in 2023—featured many works from their collection. The third, the groundbreaking 2021 Clearly Indigenous: Native Visions Reimagined in Glass, displayed at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, featured five works on loan from the couple.
“People tell us that Flux took their breath away,” says Doris in describing how their gift of art has resonated with museum visitors. Arne adds that their gift recognizes Santa Fe’s own vibrant art glass community, which began in 1974 when pioneering glass artist Dale Chihuly set up a glass studio at the Institute for American Indian Arts.
The Nature of Glass, currently on view at the Museum of Art through December 31, explores how glass artists have engaged the natural world as content for their work. It also examines the nature of glass as a medium, exploring the technical and material nature of glass, the natural qualities of the medium and the process of how artists work with glass.
“We are excited to showcase the strengths of our glass collection in The Nature of Glass, thanks to the Rolands,” says Christian Waguespack, the Museum of Art’s head of curatorial affairs. “The exhibition acknowledges glass art’s growing audience.”
For museums such as the Museum of Art, donations of collections through planned giving are vital. Collectors often have access to objects and artifacts whose cost would be impossible for museums to acquire on their own. They also have the time, resources and expertise to track down rare and unique items.
“Legacy endowments, like those established by Arne and Doris Roland, are essential for the growth of the museum because they provide ready funds for acquisition and exhibition development,” says Mark White, the Museum of Art’s executive director. “Donations of art can help museums build more diverse and comprehensive collections.”
All of the museums in the Museum of New Mexico system rely upon private donations of both art and funds to build and preserve their collections, mount exhibitions and more. In addition to endowments helping museums acquire new works of art and expand their existing collections, they provide funds for educational programs and other public outreach activities. Without the support of collectors, many museums would not be able to fulfill their mission of sharing the cultural heritage of New Mexico and the world.
For their part, the Rolands hope their legacy gifts inspire others to give works of art, as well as the funds to support their preservation and exhibition.
“I hope that, because of our gift, the Museum of Art is as well-known for its glass as its collection of Southwest art,” says Arne. “I’d love to see studio glass become a reason you visit the Museum of Art and to know that we played a role in that.”
To support the New Mexico Museum of Art, contact Alex Wilson at 505.216.0826 or Alex@museumfoundation.org.
This article and image are from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s Member News Summer 2023.