Creativity and Inspiration

Robert V. Duncan

Dr. Robert Duncan,
Vice Chancellor for Research

art collector and retailing magnate Samuel H. Kress believed great paintings should not be hidden behind the locked doors of penthouses and mansions. Far better, he said, that masterworks should be displayed for the “study and enjoyment of the public.” True to his word, Kress spent many of his later years donating his most valuable objects to public museums.

After his death in 1955, the foundation that Kress endowed continued to give away his masterpieces, expanding the program to include donations of “study collections” for select universities, MU among them. The painting featured on our cover, Paris Bordone’s 16th century depiction of Athena and Hephaestus, is a particularly striking example of the quality of the Kress Study Collection objects.

For 50 years, this and 13 other Kress masterworks have provided inspiration for countless MU fine art and art history students, as well as enjoyment and edification for many thousands of Museum of Art and Archaeology visitors. Such is the power of giving, and of a creative vision that enriches lives.

As you’ll discover in this edition of Illumination, MU boasts an abundance of faculty scientists and scholars who, like Kress, are determined to share their own measure of creativity and inspiration. You will meet an anatomist who is fundamentally altering the way paleontologists understand the physiology of dinosaurs; a psychiatric nurse who is showing elder-care providers how early identification of depression can significantly boost patients’ quality of life; a wildlife biologist working with Pacific Island farmers, local school children and an international team of conservationists to save one of the world’s most endangered birds; a group of plant scientists who are using advanced genomic techniques and an ingenious simulator to help crops overcome the ravages of drought; and a pair of caring veterinarians who are responding to a crisis in America’s horse population.

I believe that Samuel Kress would appreciate how their work, along with that of the other talented faculty featured on these pages, shows that the bounty of scientific and scholarly advancement, like the splendor of great art, truly belongs to us all. I hope you will too.

Robert V. Duncan

Vice Chancellor for Research

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