Today, the University of Texas at Dallas became the keeper of the largest private collection of Swiss art in the world, and the only definitive collection of Swiss art outside of Switzerland. The university has been gifted the Barrett Collection, an assortment of more than 400 works by major Swiss-born artists dating from the late 14th to the mid-20th century. The largest gift of art given to any school in the University of Texas system, the Barrett Collection will be housed in a new Barrett Museum to be built on the UTD campus.
Dallas residents Nona and Richard Barrett started the collection in the 1990s with the purchase of a Ferdinand Hodler painting at Art Basel in Miami. They quickly realized how under-appreciated Swiss art is outside of its home country. Since Nona’s passing in 2014, Richard and his present wife, Luba have continued to build the collection, which has lent pieces to Tate Britain, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musée d’Orsay, and other major institutions.
Its arrival at UTD will mark a major milestone for the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, which was founded in 2014.
“We have benefited so much from our city of Dallas and are glad to have an opportunity to give something back. Our wish is for our collection to remain intact and have a permanent, public home in our own city as well as in Texas. The building of the Barrett Museum on the UTD Campus not only will achieve that, but will enable the collection to continue to grow through future support from the Barrett Collection Foundation.” wrote Richard Barrett in a statement. “Our dearest hope is that this gift will enhance the cultural fabric of this fine university.”
The collection has been noted by art historians and museum directors for its completeness and depth. Every important artist born in Switzerland is represented, from Caspar Wolf to Cuno Amiet.
The Barretts have been working closely with Dr. Richard Brettell, founding director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute at UTD, to develop plans for the university’s unique new museum.
“The creation of a museum with a collection of this breadth and depth of Swiss art at its core is unprecedented in the United States,” said Brettell in a statement. “But bringing this collection to a major research university makes the significance of the gift even greater.”