Art Guild prepares to celebrate Lumberton’s connection to the North Carolina Museum of Art
Capitalizing on the recent discovery that the first chief curator of the North Carolina Museum of Art, Benjamin Forrest Williams, was from Lumberton, the Robeson County Art Guild invited its biographer Jillian Z. Goldberg to a luncheon held recently at its seat of Lumberton.
The connection between Benjamin Forrest Williams and his Lumberton roots was originally discovered at an ‘Art Through the Ages’ exhibit at the Robeson County History Museum, prompting art guild chairs, l offer from Nila Chamberlain and Jim Tripp so that Goldberg could shed more light on the uniqueness of the city. link between Williams and the North Carolina Museum of Art, widely recognized as one of the most prestigious institutions in the country.
“The Robeson County Art Guild’s interest in Benjamin Forrest Williams’ Hometown Hero status underscores the organization’s dedication to making Robeson County one of North Carolina’s thriving but relatively unsung art centers. “, according to a statement prepared by the Guild.
Among ongoing projects, a book to be released in June 2023 will tell the stories of the people, places and stories woven into the fabric of neighborhoods and communities in Robeson County.
Attention for Williams has intensified as October 22 approaches, the North Carolina Museum of Art’s 75th anniversary. Goldberg’s presentation highlighted the role Williams, then 31, played in his development, starting in 1949 when he was recalled from his studies in Paris with Henri Matesse to join the organization which had just be created.
“In 1952, his discerning eye was entrusted with a $1 million grant from the North Carolina Legislature to acquire the priceless pieces that form the core of NCMA’s collection to this day,” Goldberg said. “The funds were augmented by a generous $1 million gift of Renaissance art from the original benefactor, the Samual H. Kress Foundation.”
Williams was officially appointed as the Museum’s first chief curator in 1956, serving in that position until his retirement in 1979.