Editor’s note: In August 2014, Timothy Riggs will retire from the Ackland Art Museum after 30 years of dedicated service. On July 19th, friends of the Ackland gathered at the Carolina Inn for the Museum’s Annual Spring Luncheon, at which Timothy was the honored speaker. The following is a thank-you note that Timothy sent to guests who attended the luncheon.
Just about a month ago when we gathered for the Ackland Spring Luncheon at the Carolina Inn, I looked out across that room filled with friends, family, and colleagues, and realized again just how many people across this community care for the Ackland Art Museum and what it does.
I want to repeat here the words of Joseph Conrad that closed my talk that day:
“For life to be large and full, it must contain the care of the past and of the future in every passing moment of the present. Our daily work must be done to the glory of the dead, and for the good of those who come after.”
Museums are places where the care of the past for the future is especially direct. We cannot hear Lincoln give the Gettysburg address, but we can look at a wood engraving by Winslow Homer that a member of Lincoln’s audience could have held in his hands and looked at just as we do. And I hope that our grandchildren will have the same opportunity.
In the past thirty years I have seen the Museum’s gallery space double, and I have seen the collection grow to the point where we could fill double our present space with outstanding works of art. I have seen a website and a digitization project make images of thousands of works from the collection available to millions of people. I have seen our Education department grow from one half-time public-relations-and-education person to five staff members and two graduate interns, and I have seen its programs grow far more than I can say.