St. Louis Art Museum gifted $50M art collection

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - Philip K. Hu has been familiar with the latest addition to the art museum's collection for some time.

'They were very strategic in their collecting,' says Philip K. Hu, Associate Curator of Asian Art at the St. Louis Art Museum.  'They of course only collected what they liked.   But what they liked also happened to fill many of our gaps.'

Now those fill many of the gallery walls at the St. Louis Art Museum.

From the 1970's through the 1990's CC Johnson and Edith Spink built their private collection of art finding artifacts from 3000 B.C. to the early 20th century.

They soon began working with curators at the museum to find out what they needed.

As they began donating, they asked only to be known as private collectors.

'They were more interested in sharing their collection with the public that was the important thing to them,' says Hu.

The big bequest is estimated at 225 objects with a value of at least $50-million dollars.

'Two hundred fifteen are Asian and 10 are American,' says Hu.  'Out of the 215 Asian there are six works of Japanese art and the rest are all Chinese.'

The earnest collectors had their eyes on what would happen to their fine art in the future.

Rembrandt Peale has already been hanging on the museum walls.

Now a few Wyeths and a couple Norman Rockwell originals will eventually go on display.

'Now we have not only the joy but the responsibility to share it with the public of St. Louis,' says Hu.

That civic minded thinking might just spark the next CC Johnson and Edith Spink, who might start their own collection for the future of St. Louis.