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Having a ball!

Museum gala supports campus treasures

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  • Story by Nancy Moen
  • Image from "The Conversation," by Jean Charles Meissonier
  • Published: April 26, 2010
Paintbrush ball image

Mizzou's Museum of Art and Archaeology hosts the Paintbrush Ball fundraiser May 8.

We’re having a ball here, and you’re invited. On May 8, the support group of the University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology continues a nearly 40-year tradition with an annual party for patrons and the public.

The Museum Associates 2010 Paintbrush Ball — a dinner dance with live music — serves as a major fundraiser for the museum and gathers a receptive audience for the introduction of a new art acquisition.

After socializing in the museum’s cast gallery, guests will assemble in the Gallery of European and American Art for the unveiling of a rare oil painting on stone (jasper), the work of a French artist who incorporated the veining of the stone into the painted image, circa 1625.

Curator Mary Pixley will present a history of the piece. Online visitors may view the new acquisition on the museum’s website after the party. Black-tie attire is optional for either gathering.

Feast your eyes

Moving to the Reynolds Center after the unveiling, attendees will view a buffet of raffle and auction items that area businesses and individuals have donated. Items are valued at $25-$3,000. “You can be a supporter of the arts without being a millionaire,” says Bruce Cox, assistant director of museum operations. 

Sometimes the decisions are tough.

Should you bid on a first-ever catacombs tour of the museum’s stored treasures (because of space limitations, only a fraction of the collection is on display) followed by a chef-prepared dinner for six?  A winning bid might satisfy both the curious and the epicures among us.

How about a five-night stay at a Wisconsin lakeside cabin? A gourmet cooking class, perhaps? (One could then bid on some yoga sessions or riding lessons to offset accumulating calories.)

Other bidding opportunities include original artwork, jewelry, certificates for photography portraits, a private airplane ride, a golfing package, restaurant meals, bed-and breakfast stays and theater tickets.  

Lynn and Herb Willbrand, longtime attendees of the ball, like the idea of buying art to help the museum. They especially enjoy the silent auction. “We pick up some interesting art pieces that we otherwise wouldn’t seek out,” Lynn says. 

The gala grows

The Paintbrush Ball provides essential support for the operating budget of a museum that doesn’t charge admission fees for its services. 

The Museum of Art and Archaeology is considered an area treasure. It possesses the third-most extensive visual art collection in Missouri and curates a world-class collection of ancient art. In addition to its permanent displays, the museum mounts two major exhibitions and one or two smaller exhibitions each year. It also offers family activities, a film series, a lecture series, classes and tours. All for free. 

Last year’s fundraiser drew 235 patrons and cleared a profit of $27,000. The funds help defray operating expenses that include the costs of materials, docent activities and children’s educational projects. Many special projects welcome children to the museum each year, among those a junior docent program through two area schools.

An equally important use of the funds is for the purchase of art to fill gaps in the collection. Pixley located this year’s acquisition at a London auction house and had to move fast to purchase it. 

“Art comes available quickly at auction houses. You buy it or lose it,” Cox says. 

Although the Paintbrush Ball officially began in 2001 with 75 people attending, a handful of Museum Associates sponsored a private Museum Gala for years. Opening the event to the public was key to its growing success, Cox says.

Many of the guests attend year after year. Dean Tom and Alice Payne typically host a table of 10 to 12 friends and add their own artistic twist. They begin the event with a pre-party gathering at their home, where the group creates a painting by committee. 

“Results vary, but it’s always fun.” Alice says of the finished product. 

She affirms that supporting the Museum of Art and Archaeology is a ball.

Read more in:  On CampusFamily & CommunityArts & Culture

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Last updated: Feb. 22, 2012