Key staff position at Hallie Ford Museum of Art named for museum director

by Jennifer Johnson,

Collins family honors two decades of mutual respect, friendship.

  • Hallie Ford Museum of Art Director John Olbrantz and Curator of Collections and Exhibitions Jonathan Bucci
    Hallie Ford Museum of Art Director John Olbrantz, left, and Jonathan Bucci, who is now known as the John Olbrantz Curator of Collections and Exhibitions.

Jonathan Bucci has been named the John Olbrantz Curator of Collections and Exhibitions for Hallie Ford Museum of Art, part of a $1.5 million gift from the estate of longtime Willamette University trustee Maribeth Collins, who passed away last year.

During the past 12 years, Bucci has cared for the museum’s collections and curated a number of special exhibitions, including solo exhibitions for Seattle mixed media artist Whiting Tennis and Oregon outsider artist Russell Childers.

“I am very proud to hold this position,” Bucci says. “This is a well-earned honor for John, given his exceptional record as director and his commitment to building the museum’s collection and presenting important exhibitions over the past 20 years.”

A significant amount of Collins’ long-standing, generous support of Willamette was designated to support HFMA, including acquisitions, regional art exhibitions and two other endowed positions — the Maribeth Collins Director, held by John Olbrantz, and the Cameron Paulin Curator of Education, held by Elizabeth Garrison.

Collins’ four children are Willamette graduates: Cherida C. Smith, ’72, Truman W.  Collins, Jr. ’86, Timothy W. Collins ’70 and Terry S. Collins ’70. Her family wanted to name the collections and exhibitions curator position after Olbrantz, who has been HFMA director since the museum opened in 1998.

Smith says, “Given the close relationship between Maribeth and John over many years, and their mutual respect and appreciation and friendship, we immediately thought she would want the position named for him.”

Olbrantz is touched at having his name associated with such an important benefactor and longtime friend of the museum.

“I can’t recall a time when I’ve been so moved by such a magnanimous gesture. I am honored beyond belief,” he says. “Although Maribeth has been gone for a little over a year, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about and miss her. She was one of the most remarkable women and selfless donors I have ever known.”

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