Matthews' new role will build art endowment

Henry Matthews, who has a new position in University Development, stands by the print and drawing cabinet in the art storage room, located in the Innovation Design Center. There are 9,000 pieces of artwork stored in the building on Winter Street.
Henry Matthews stands by the print and drawing cabinet in the art storage room, located in the Innovation Design Center. There are 9,000 pieces of artwork stored there, including prints by Cyril Lixenberg, pictured.
Image Credit: Valerie Wojciechowski

Over the past two decades, Henry Matthews, founding director of Grand Valley's Galleries and Collections, has helped to build the university's impressive collection of art to more than 19,000 pieces.

In a new role, Matthews will build a funding base for that collection to preserve and protect it for future generations. In early August, Matthews was named distinguished university associate, Galleries and Collections, within the University Development Division. 

Karen Loth, vice president for University Development, said the division is excited to welcome Matthews and excited for the future of Grand Valley's art collection.

"Henry brings such a history of success in building the art collection for Grand Valley. That, coupled with his deep relationships with so many university donors, will be a great addition to the Development team," Loth said.

Nathan Kemler, former assistant director of Galleries and Collections, has been appointed interim director. Matthews will continue to work closely with the Art Gallery staff as curator of the collections.

In his new position, Matthews will actively work with current and new donors to raise support for art through the GVSU Art Collection Endowment, in addition to raising support for the Gordon Gallery and its extensive collection of Mathias Alten paintings, as well as other art-related initiatives.

"For the past 20-plus years, we have grown and set the roots of an impressive collection," he said. "Now we will concentrate on building an endowment to support programs that are established and thriving. Grand Valley is a very young university and will continue to develop this outstanding art collection for educational purposes."

Artwork within the university's collections comes from six continents. Matthews credited President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers with having a vision to build an extensive collection that would be accessible to students, faculty and staff members and the public. 

"We wanted to be as inclusive and multicultural as possible, we wanted to bring the world to our students," Matthews said.

It's the second largest art collection among Michigan's colleges and universities. Matthews' charge is to build support for the collection for the purposes of research, exhibitions and preservation. 

"Just think what the future art collection will look like in 50 years or more. We have created an important foundation for the future of our students," he said.