New BYU exhibit featuring artwork by Carl Bloch and others is a dream fulfilled for museum officials
It was in part because of the encounter many of the contributing church officials had with Utah patrons that they gave their consent to lend their beloved and permanent paintings for another exhibit, Pheysey said.
BYU borrowed a portrait of Carl Bloch from the Frederiksborg Castle for the 2010 exhibit, "Carl Bloch: The Master's Hand." Toward the end of the exhibition, BYU museum officials extended the invitation to all they had been working with in various churches and at the castle to come to Provo to see the exhibit firsthand.
"We wanted them to experience what we were experiencing with Bloch's paintings," Pheysey said. "In a way, it was our gift to them."
During their weeklong stay, visitors from Denmark and Sweden saw not only their paintings on display, but the thousands of people who came to view them also.
"They couldn't believe how much the people of Utah loved Carl Bloch," Pheysey said.
Pheysey recalled that one of the most remarkable aspects of the visitors' stay was how patrons in the museum would personally thank them for allowing BYU to borrow Bloch's paintings.
"I don't know how people in that gallery knew, but they would come up to (our visitors) and say how much the paintings meant to them," she said. "They couldn't believe it, nor could they believe the crowds."
Ultimately, Pheysey said, the week's experiences, combined with the visitors' glowing report of the exhibit to their home congregations in Sweden and Denmark, paved the way for "Sacred Gifts."
"To be able to share our feelings for these paintings made a huge difference in our ability to go and ask these other churches who didn't lend the first time," Pheysey said.
Full-circle sacred gifts
And museum officials like Magleby and Pheysey said they recognize the gift they have been given in making this exhibition a reality.
Pheysey said that while the first exhibit featuring Carl Bloch was to acquaint people with his work, "Sacred Gifts" is about recognizing the many gifts that embody this exhibit.
"We realized the art and the message of the exhibition itself was really the result of many gifts," Pheysey said. "There are the God-given talents of the artists. They are magnificent and not only uplifted people in their lifetime but continue to uplift and edify Christians all around the world today."
In return for their generosity, BYU will cover the cost of conservation for each painting before it returns back to its original home. Paintings have been donated from locations in Sweden, Denmark, Germany and New York.
Magleby said that the generous donations given by patrons are also essential to make the exhibit possible — and free to the public.
"We are totally funded by philanthropies, by donors," he said. "One of our biggest donors came forward and gave a half a million dollars. With the cost of conservation, shipping and insurance, half a million is a starting point."
Magleby said that it was not uncommon — after conservation and masterpiece shipping — for an altarpiece to cost $100,000 per exhibit.
"Sacred Gifts" will feature three altarpieces by Carl Bloch from churches in Sweden and Denmark.
Though the exhibit is free, Magleby and Pheysey said that they hope patrons will be inspired to donate to the museum, bringing the concept of gifts full circle.
"We would hope people would give as much as they feel it was worth," Pheysey said. Donations can be made online and at the exhibit.
"The whole process is about sacred gifts. It's the gift from the churches and the people there to share the focal point of their church with us, and on our part to be able to provide funds so that when the paintings go back to them, future generations can enjoy them as well," Pheysey said.
Ultimately, museum officials agree that the exhibit is about the infinite gift of the prime subject — the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Emmilie Buchanan is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Contact her by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @emmiliebuchanan
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