Barry Art Museum to Receive Major Gift of the Waitzer Glass Collection
June 21, 2022
The Barry Art Museum at Old Dominion University announces a major gift from the Leah and Richard Waitzer Foundation. The late Leah and Richard Waitzer's art glass acquisitions consist of 165 works in 20th-century and contemporary glass sculpture. Through the generosity of Leah and Richard's three sons, Eddie, Brad and Scott Waitzer, directors of the Waitzer Foundation, the gift will more than double the Museum's holdings in glass.
The Waitzers were known as prominent civic leaders, philanthropists and art collectors.
"Leah and Richard were enthusiastic, decisive and knowledgeable collectors, and they taught us a great deal," said Museum co-founder Richard Barry.
"We enjoyed the thrill of the hunt with them," added Museum co-founder Carolyn Barry. "They had an especially keen eye for art and were generous in sharing their expertise with other collectors."
The considerable collection chronicles design masters such as Louis Comfort Tiffany, Frederick Carder, Émile Gallé and Nancy Daum Frères. There is a particular emphasis on early studio glass sculptures: 12 artworks alone track the arc of the career of Harvey Littleton, considered the founder of the American studio glass movement. Other early innovators and pioneers represented in the acquisitions include Dominick Labino, Marvin Liposfsky, Toots Zynsky and Therman Statom. The Waitzers judiciously followed the development of studio glass in America and abroad with select international acquisitions. They expanded with works by European artists who were influencing their American counterparts, such as Italian maestro Lino Tagliapietra, German pioneer Erwin Eisch and Czech sculptors František Vizner, Pavel Hlava, Petr Hora and Stanislav Libenský. Over time, the Waitzer collection grew with works by universally recognized artists, such as Australian forefather Klaus Moje, Swedish sculptor Bertil Vallien, and Japanese creators Kimiake Higuchi, Kyohei Fujita and Hiroshi Yamano.
"The Waitzer gift will complement the extensive glass holdings of the Museum, creating one of the most prominent collections of 20th century and contemporary glass sculpture in the United States," said Barry Art Museum Board President Lewis Webb.
"We are delighted that these remarkable pieces will remain here in Hampton Roads on the ODU campus to honor their legacy through education," said Charlotte Potter Kasic, executive director of the Barry Art Museum. "The Waitzers were visionary - and mentors to many of us in the field. They inspired our own founders and set a precedent for art appreciation across Norfolk and the region."
The donation will allow visitors and scholars to appreciate the Waitzers' discerning approach to building a landmark collection that traces the modern movements in glass.
"We are excited that our parents' glass collection will remain intact as it reflects their progression in collecting over 40 years," noted Brad Waitzer, president of the Leah and Richard Waitzer Foundation. "The donation also aligns with their lifelong interest in education, the arts, and the economic and cultural development of Hampton Roads. As an added bonus, it seems particularly appropriate that it will live on with the Barrys' collection as the couples traveled and collected together over many years."
"On behalf of the University, we express our sincere appreciation and lasting gratitude to the Waitzer family for their generous and significant donation to the Barry Art Museum," said ODU President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. "This collection represents a bold step forward and will continue to captivate and inspire current and future generations."
The Museum is slated to stage a public exhibition of the Waitzer Collection in the spring of 2023 and will establish a gallery dedicated to their philanthropy.