Few things impact a museum more than the unstinting generosity of its patrons. When the Mint Museum of Craft + Design opened to the public on January 9, 1999, it did so with the assurance of two of its most prominent donors that their treasures would form the foundation of the museum's collection of turned wood. Washingtonians Jane and Arthur Mason have dedicated a significant part of their life together to assembling what has been described by many authorities in the museum world as one of the most important collections of turned wood in private hands. Turning Wood into Art: The Jane and Arthur Mason Collection is an exhibition of this dramatic and extraordinary gift. It is also a beautifully published book that offers a compelling scholarly appraisal of turned wood while examining in some depth the lasting value and contributions of many of the practitioners whose work comprise the collection's holdings.
Foremost among those whom the museum wishes to thank, we extend our deepest gratitude to Jane and Arthur Mason. The care, thoughtfulness, abiding passion, and uncommon generosity of spirit that are at the core of their collection are equally apparent in their dealings with the museum. Jane and Arthur have provided sustaining support to the Mint throughout the gift transaction, the documentation of the collection, and the bringing of this glorious project to fruition. It has been an honor and a privilege to know and work with them on the museum's behalf in this historic endeavor. Together, they have left an indelible imprint on the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, providing it with a premier wood collection and the necessary research tools to promote the study of turned wood. Equally compelling is the momentum that their gift has established and that has been a source of encouragement to others who might fuel the museum's growth into the new millennium and beyond.
Turning Wood into Art has been a Herculean undertaking, and many individuals and organizations have provided support critical to the project. Lee Eagle and Maurine Littleton deserve special recognition, for it is their enthusiasm for what is now the Mint Museum of Craft + Design that facilitated my introduction to Arthur and Jane Mason and their stunning collection.
Equally instrumental, especially in shaping the public programs that will support the exhibition, is the Windgate Charitable Trust. We are deeply indebted to the Trust for its generous support in two specific areas. In 1998, funds were made available to facilitate a planning conference to develop education programming to coincide with the opening of Turning Wood into Art. This forum enabled a diverse group--consisting of artists, curators, critics, and collectors--to meet, discuss, and suggest a series of education programs to be presented in a conference format to enhance and complement the existing base of knowledge on turned wood. This program will take place during the gathering of the 2000 national meeting of the Collectors of Wood Art. For sharing their wisdom and for their spirited support of this initiative, we thank the following conference attendees: Stoney Lamar, Suzanne Ramljak, Bonner Guilford, David Wahl, Rebecca Klemm, David McFadden, Kenneth Trapp, Robyn and John Horn, Jane and Arthur Mason, Cheryl Palmer, Suzanne Fetscher, Mary Beth Crawford, and Mary Douglas. In September 1999, the Windgate Charitable Trust provided a subsequent grant to facilitate the Mint Museum of Craft + Design's technology program, including capturing, preparing, presenting, and maintaining information that promotes knowledge of and appreciation for craft history, the creative and design process, and contemporary expression, beginning with turned wood. For their continuing support, the museum is most grateful.
The richness and depth of the exhibition has been immeasurably enhanced through loans provided by several sources, including the Mason's children. In this respect, we are especially grateful to Kent A. Mason, Thomas B. Mason, and Dr. Peggy Mason for their willingness to lend prized pieces from their personal collections to help accomplish the exhibit's goals of providing both comprehensiveness and quality. W. Graham Beal, executive director, and curator Bonita Fike of the Detroit Institute of Arts also merit our sincere appreciation for their willingness to accommodate our request to borrow Mark Lindquist's evocative Ancient Inner Anagogical Vessel Emerging.
The published record of this exhibition, with its accompanying interpretive text, joins a small but distinguished body of scholarly literature on the subject. The museum is especially indebted to Paul Gottlieb, publisher, and Elisa Urbanelli, senior editor, of Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Their confidence in this project and their commitment to excellence has produced a book of great value to those interested in the development of turned wood. This publishing effort has also provided needed visibility for a burgeoning community of artists who possess great talent and who have been largely responsible for the development of this important area of the studio craft movement.