Private art becomes public

For decades, art collectors across the globe have opted to donate their collections to museums, but lately, private art collections are becoming modern-day museums. Reasons for this include fulfilling social responsibility, freeing up space in homes and taking advantage of the tax benefits.

Though there has been much hype about the recent growth in the number of private museums, this concept is nothing new. In the 1920s, when Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney offered to donate her extensive collection of American artworks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it was refused. So, she set up her own museum—The Whitney—which, to this day, focuses exclusively on American art and artists. Then, in the 1930s, Solomon R. Guggenheim (perhaps inspired by Gertrude Whitney) introduced the American public to the works of Wassily Kandinsky and Rudolf Bauer through his private collection. He soon began working with renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright on an iconic building to permanently house it.