WATERVILLE, Maine — College art museums are the great under-appreciated jewels of New England cultural life. Being primarily teaching museums, they tend to collect art from all cultures and periods. Most often, given their limited resources and dependence on fluky gifts, they come to resemble ancient textiles, with areas of astonishing detail and sumptuousness, but whole areas arbitrarily missing.
When Colby College Museum of Art opened its new Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion last weekend, its community of supporters celebrated a transforming gift of more than 500 works of art by the museum’s longtime benefactors, the Lunder family. Suddenly, the old cloth filled out and, in parts, came up looking almost new.
The Lunder gift has propelled Colby into the first rank of college museums — not quite up there with Harvard and Yale, but certainly in the same league as Smith, Williams, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Wellesley’s Davis Museum