Skip to content Skip to navigation

Melva Bucksbaum: 1933 - 2015

Melva Bucksbaum, one of America’s preeminent art collectors and patrons, died on Sunday, August 23 at her home in Aspen, Colorado.  Ms Bucksbaum, who became interested in art as a young girl, served on a number of museum boards including those of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, the Aspen Institute, the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the International Committee of the Tate Gallery in London. She also served as vice chairwoman of the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2000, she and her family created the Bucksbaum Award, which every two years grants an artist $100,000. The award, one of the largest cash awards given to an individual visual artist, also includes an invitation to exhibit at the Whitney Museum.  Ms. Bucksbaum and her third husband Raymond Learsey, a fellow Whitney board member, were among the world’s leading collectors of contemporary art. On their property in Sharon, where they spent part of the year, they built a private museum, the Granary, to house some of their collection that included works by David Salle, Richard Serra, Robert Mapplethorpe and Frank Gehry.   In 2013 Ms. Bucksbaum, a strong supporter of art by women, curated “The Distaff Side,” a show at The Granary of over 100 works by women artists in the couple’s collection. “The Distaff Side” was the first and last show she curated. Melva Bucksbaum will be greatly missed both in the Sharon community and the community of art worldwide.