Harn Museum of Art receives major collection of Asian art and acquisitions endowment

Bequest given by Dr. David A. Cofrin, founding donor of of the Harn at the University of Florida

Dr. David A. Cofrin, one of the founding donors of the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida, has bequeathed 312 works of Asian art worth an estimated $4.2 million to the museum. Dr. Cofrin also established a $1 million endowment for the acquisition of Asian art. The gifted works include jades, ceramics, metals such as cloisonné and bronze, glass, ivory and lacquers from China, Japan and Southeast Asia. The donation is particularly strong in Chinese jades which predominantly date from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing dynasty (1644-1911).

Dr. Cofrin and his wife Mary Ann have a long history of leadership support to the Harn.

Prior to this bequest, Dr. Cofrin and his wife Mary Ann donated $10 million towards the construction of the 26,000 sq. ft. David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing, a $20 million addition scheduled to open in 2012. He and his wife were also instrumental in funding the purchase of more than 150 works from China, India, Japan and Korea in the Harn’s Asian art collection, as well as acquisitions in the contemporary, modern, and photography collections. Their founding donation made the first museum building possible. With a match by the state of Florida and additional donor support, the $8.7 million building opened in 1990. An additional gift from the Cofrins was instrumental in a $4.9 million expansion in 2005.

“Dr. Cofrin was both a focused collector and an open-minded, inquisitive donor,” said Jason Steuber, Cofrin Curator of Asian Art at the Harn, whose own position was endowed by the benefactor. “I could present a Ming dynasty painting alongside a contemporary photograph and he saw the benefit of acquiring both for display at the Harn.”

“Dr. Cofrin’s generosity lives on as the Harn Museum continues to grow and exhibit acquisitions made possible by him in a building made possible by him,” said Rebecca Nagy, Director of the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art. “His legacy is his passion and determination to build an exceptional Asian art collection at the University of Florida to be shared through exhibitions, loans, scholarly publications, and teaching.”

The new works will be on display in the David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing when it opens. The focus of the first exhibition presented in the Asian Wing’s main gallery will be objects given to the museum by the collectors and donors who have helped create one of the best collections of Asian art in the region.

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
Founded in 1990, the Harn Museum of Art is an integral part of the University of Florida. The Harn contributes to an interconnected, international community by integrating the arts and culture into curricula throughout the university’s system of colleges and centers. Its holdings include more than 7,300 works in five main collecting areas: Asian art, African art, photography, modern art of the Americas and Europe, and contemporary art. In addition to rotating installations drawn from its permanent collection, the Harn organizes traveling exhibitions, public lectures, panel discussions, academic symposia and educational programs for adults, students and children. In 2012, the Harn will open the 26,000-square-foot David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing, which will feature three levels, including new galleries, storage and conservation spaces, as well as outdoor gardens.

The Harn Museum, at Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road in Gainesville, Fla., is part of the University of Florida’s Cultural Plaza, which is also home to the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.


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