History of the Art Complex Museum

The history of the museum is interwoven with that of the Weyerhaeuser family. Carl A. Weyerhaeuser, grandson of the founder of the lumber business, chose a Rembrandt print, The Decent from the Cross by Torchlight, as a graduation gift when he completed his studies at Harvard University. He was drawn to works of art on paper, particularly European and American prints. he museum has strong holdings of prints, including those by Albrecht Dürer, Jacques Callot, J.M.W. Turner, Camile Corot, Kaethe Kolwitz and Rembrandt van Rijn.

His collecting interests soon expanded to include Shaker furniture, American paintings and Asian art. Highlights of the American painting collection include works by Sanford Gifford, Charles Burchfield and George Bellows. Edith Weyerhaeuser encouraged her husband to build a museum to house his growing collection and to share it with others. The artist, Ture Bengtz, friend of the family and the museum’s first director, created an original design for the building under Weyerhaeuser’s direction. Weyerhaeuser wanted to honor his heritage with a “monument to wood”. Natural light penetrates glass enclosures, which look out on open fields and tall trees. The design of the Bengtz Gallery is leaf-shaped. Both the interior and exterior curves of the building’s distinctive roofline have been compared to the ocean waves at Duxbury’s seaside.

Situated on over thirteen acres of woodland and open fields, the museum opened in 1971. In addition to a gallery for rotating objects from the permanent collection, and exhibitions spaces that feature painting, sculpture, prints and craft objects created by contemporary artists, the museum houses the Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Reference Library of over 5,000 publications. Located on the grounds is a Japanese tea hut, part of the museum’s Asian collection.

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