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McMullen Receives Art Donation Worth Over $20 Million

Boston College’s McMullen Museum of Art received one of the largest donations in BC’s history—an art collection worth upward of $20 million from Peter Lynch, according to a University release published on Tuesday. 

The donation, which will be named the Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Collection, is comprised of art from Lynch and his late wife Carolyn’s private collection, with works from Pablo Picasso, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam, Albert Bierstadt, Martin Johnson Heade, and Jack Butler Yeats.

“I hope [the donation] expands graduate students and undergraduates to visually appreciate art—how forms of expression can really change your expression and make you enjoy life and appreciate wonderful works,” Lynch, BC ’65, said in an interview with The Heights.

Lynch—the vice chairman of Fidelity Investments Inc. and a trustee associate at BC—is also known for expanding the Fidelity Magellan Fund into a mulitbillion dollar operation, according to The Boston Globe. 

Lynch’s affinity for collecting art stemmed from a childhood visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, according to the University release. Lynch said the art history classes he took during his time at BC furthered his interest in art.

Lynch said he collected art with his wife over the course of 40 years from small shops, auctions, and dealers, and included some of the best pieces in the donation.

“Each piece my wife and I collected over 40 years and … these are the best of the best,” Lynch said.

Many pieces in his donation to the museum, Lynch said, are from the same time period as the University’s intial expansion and relocation. 

“Boston College started in 1863 in the South End and came out to Chestnut Hill in 1910,” Lynch said. “Most of these paintings by Homer or Hassam or Bradford or Gifford are during that era of Boston College’s great growth starting in 1863 and moving onto Chesnut Hill.”

Lynch, who also received an honorary degree from BC in 1995, said his decision to donate these works was influenced by his family and his personal attachment to BC. 

“My father was a mathematics and physics professor in Devlin Hall in the 1930s, and I went to Boston College, [which] changed my life in so many ways, all positive, and our middle daughter Annie graduated in ’01, so we have a great fondness for Boston College,” he said.

The Lynch family has donated to BC in the past. In 1999, the family donated around $10 million that named the Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch School of Education and Human Development. In 2010, the family donated a $20 million gift that established the Lynch Leadership Academy.

Thirty years ago, BC’s displayed art was held in a small museum in the basement of Devlin Hall. Lynch said the paintings have a place where they belong with the now-improved venue in the McMullen. 

“Thirty pieces of art wouldn’t fit in the old basement facility in Devlin Hall, so the fact the McMullen family—great BC supporters—gave this large gift to expand and enhance that museum, you know, there’s a natural place for this art,” he said.

As the McMullen Museum is free and open to visitors, these pieces will be available to both BC and the general public.

The donation also included an additional $5 million grant to support the “ongoing curation and exhibition,” according to the release. 

The McMullen Museum will also partner with BC faculty, students, and scholars around the world to begin new research on these pieces that will “share new insights and contemporary interpretations,” Nancy Netzer, inaugural Robert L. and Judith T. Winston director of the McMullen Museum, said in the release.

Netzer also said that the museum is profoundly grateful for the donation. 

“This is a transformational gift for the McMullen Museum, allowing expansion of our role as a vital educational resource offered free of charge not only to the Boston College community but also to all students and the public, wherever they may be,” the release reads.

Featured image courtesy of the Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Collection at the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College

December 7, 2021