A Gift Of Love At Paam

Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Morning, 1950, Oil On Canvas, 34 1/8” x 40 1/4”, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation.


Laura Shabott

Ninety-six drawings by American painter Edward Hopper, 69 drawings and watercolors by his wife Josephine Hopper, and 22 of her diaries were donated to the Provincetown Art Association and Museum this past fall in memory of Mary Schiffenhaus. It is one of the largest donations in the 102-year history of the museum.

The story of the Hopper acquisition began over a decade ago when PAAM was a leaky building in desperate need of renovation. Executive director Chris McCarthy championed a complex renovation that led to a LEED Silver Award and inclusion in the American Alliance of Museums. With the proper storage and exhibition space, its collection tripled to 3,500 works by over 800 20th Century and contemporary artists who worked or now work in Provincetown and the Cape. It is a beautiful museum, making it a good fit for the largest collection of Hopper drawings in the country, second to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

“The donors believe that PAAM is the proper repository and will uphold the highest level of care, scholarship and visibility,” McCarthy said. “[Their] gift will help continue to raise awareness about PAAM and the art colony, build new partnerships and hopefully add an expanded level of scholarship to our program.”

The bequest, made by Laurence C. and J. Anton Schiffenhaus (with two anonymous donors), is in honor of their mother Mary Schiffenhaus. A close personal friend of the Hoppers, Mary inherited the 800-square-foot white Cape house on a bluff overlooking the bay, which was immortalized in paintings like “Cape Cod Morning.” “[We could have donated the collection to] the Whitney, where it would be lost in thousands of works,” the Schiffenhaus brothers explained, “or to PAAM, near where much of the work originated and would become a major part of their collection and visible on a continual basis.”

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