A Century of Giving
Section Three: 1967-1990
Late 20th century expansion: David Piper & Michael Jaffé
Under the directorship of Sir David Piper (1967-73), the Fitzwilliam began to look to the long term future, aware that its needs and priorities as a university museum had changed.
This period saw a further expansion of the collections. Contemporary art was now beginning to be acquired and, in 1965, the new 20th Century Gallery was opened in the 'White Cube Building'. This self-contained extension, an American-influenced design, represented radical modern architecture in Cambridge.
In 1975, under Professor Michael Jaffé's directorship (1973-1990), another extension was opened, including a new entrance, Reading Room, and purpose-built gallery for the display of modern art. The latter was named after Sir Robert Adeane, Patron of the Friends (1975-9) who had given £100,000 to launch the extension appeal.
In 1979, Fitzwilliam Museum Enterprise began trading in the Museum - selling books, postcards and a wide range of popular merchandise associated with the collection.
The Friends' fund was widely used during these years of expansion: in building up a contemporary print collection, for instance, and in securing important paintings - such as Cuyp's Sunset, and Van Dyck's Madonna & Child. In ceramics, the Museum's 'rather weak modern representation' was systematically strengthened with works by Lucy Rie, Hans Coper, Bernard Leach and Sam Herman.
In 1985, the Friends gave £20,000 towards the purchase of a large collection of fans which were to be exhibited in a new, purpose-built gallery. They also contributed to the growing display of 19th century sculptures in the main Entrance Hall.
On Michael Jaffé's retirement as Director, in 1990, the Friends commissioned a portrait of him from the sculptor, Elizabeth Frink, who was also their Patron. Jaffé, a distinguished scholar, connoisseur and collector, was an impressive-looking man whose bearded profile was said to have given him 'more than a passing resemblance to an Assyrian deity'!
External link: Obituary: Professor Michael Jaffé. The Independent
Fitzwilliam gallery guide: further information on the 'White Cube' extension to the Museum
The Getty Research Institute: Inventory of the papers of David Piper relating to British Museums and Art Institutions