Peter Lynch donates art collection to BC's McMullen Museum

BOSTON -- Peter Lynch proved himself not only a supporter of Catholic education but also a generous patron of the arts as he made a special donation of 27 paintings and three drawings from his and his late wife Carolyn's private art collection -- together worth over $20 million -- to Boston College's McMullen Museum of Art.

In a Dec. 7 press release, Lynch said that other museums had sought after the collection, which includes works by Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Pablo Picasso, John Singer Sargent, and other renowned artists. However, he wanted to give it to his alma mater, Boston College, the school that "dramatically improved" his life, he said.

Lynch, the vice chairman of Fidelity Management and Research Company, graduated from BC in 1965 and is a trustee associate there. Other members of his family also have ties to the school, where his father taught mathematics and physics, his wife received an honorary degree in 2009, and their daughter, Annie, spent "four wonderful and productive years."

"I hope that many of our 10 grandchildren will go to BC, where they and their classmates can view the art our children grew up admiring, and that visitors from throughout New England will come to see the collection at this jewel of a museum," Lynch said.

As a child, Lynch's interest in art was nurtured by visits to the Museum of Fine Arts with his mother. He took art history classes while attending BC, and he and Carolyn were part of a group of collectors at the MFA called "The Young Seminarians." The couple accumulated their art collection over the course of 50 years, until Carolyn's death in 2015.

"We cherished having this art in our homes, but it is now time to give it away so that it can be studied and enjoyed by others," Lynch said.

In addition to the artwork, the donation also includes a $5 million grant to support the collection's ongoing curation and exhibition.

He said that he hopes the collection will help students "develop a deeper understanding of art and its importance as a form of expression."

"All students definitely can learn from this collection, which includes a diversity of styles of painting, many of which depict the natural beauty of our country from its most celebrated painters," Lynch said.

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., the consultative curator of American art at Harvard University's Fogg Museum and former curator of American paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, said it is "an extraordinary compilation of artwork."

"Each painting is beautiful and tells a unique story of American life. It is an extraordinary collection for Boston College and the community," Stebbins said.

Nancy Netzer, a professor of art history in BC's Department of Art, Art History, and Film, said the museum and BC faculty and students will work with scholars around the world to begin new research on the artwork.

"This is a transformational gift for the McMullen Museum, allowing expansion of our role as a vital educational resource offered free of charge not only to the Boston College community but also to all students and the public, wherever they may be," Netzer said.

She said they are "profoundly grateful" to the Lynches.

"Carolyn and Peter Lynch's generosity and their focused, discerning collecting over many decades have brightened the future of the McMullen Museum's offerings to New England and beyond," she said.

The Lynches have been longtime benefactors of BC. In 1999, they gave more than $10 million to name the Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch School of Education and Human Development. In 2010, a $20 million gift established The Lynch Leadership Academy, which trains and provides support for principals and aspiring principals in Massachusetts.

The total value of the grant and the art, which will be named the Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Collection, makes it one of the largest gifts in BC history.

"I am an extremely lucky person who has been so blessed in life. Giving this collection to Boston College is a small way for me to give back," Lynch said.