In 2017 the Ack­land Art Muse­um at the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na at Chapel Hill received its largest gift to date. Donat­ed by UNC alum­nus Dr. Shel­don Peck and his late wife Leena, the gift includ­ed 134 large­ly sev­en­teenth- and eigh­teenth-cen­tu­ry Dutch and Flem­ish draw­ings as well as a gen­er­ous endow­ment to sup­port a new cura­tor of Euro­pean and Amer­i­can art before 1950, future acqui­si­tions, exhi­bi­tions, edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als, and pub­lic pro­gram­ming relat­ed to the col­lec­tion. The Peck gift instant­ly placed the Ack­land among the impor­tant repos­i­to­ries of Dutch and Flem­ish draw­ings in the Unit­ed States and estab­lished the Muse­um as one of a hand­ful of uni­ver­si­ties in the nation where draw­ings by sev­en­teenth-cen­tu­ry north­ern Euro­pean mas­ters can be stud­ied in great depth. 

A native of Durham, Shel­don Peck (1941 – 2021) was a dou­ble alum­nus of the Uni­ver­si­ty, receiv­ing his under­grad­u­ate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1963 and his doc­tor­ate from the UNC School of Den­tistry in 1966. He and Leena (1945 – 2019) enjoyed dis­tin­guished careers as promi­nent ortho­don­tic spe­cial­ists and edu­ca­tors in the Boston area.

Portrait of Sheldon Peck

The Peck Col­lec­tion start­ed as a col­lab­o­ra­tion between Shel­don and his late broth­er Har­vey and con­tin­ued as a joint inter­est shared with Leena. The result of over forty years of excep­tion­al con­nois­seur­ship, sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly rig­or­ous analy­sis, and ded­i­cat­ed pur­suit, the Peck Col­lec­tion stands as an inter­na­tion­al­ly sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment. The col­lec­tion encom­pass­es depic­tions of land­scapes, scenes of every­day life, por­traits, prepara­to­ry stud­ies, and bibil­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal scenes, form­ing a dynam­ic and rep­re­sen­ta­tive group of draw­ings by some of the most out­stand­ing artists of the peri­od. Draw­ings by Rem­brandt van Rijn, the most cel­e­brat­ed Dutch artist of the sev­en­teenth cen­tu­ry, are also includ­ed in the col­lec­tion, mak­ing the Ack­land the first pub­lic art muse­um in the Unit­ed States to own a col­lec­tion of draw­ings by Rembrandt.

When the Pecks donat­ed their col­lec­tion to the Ack­land, they empha­sized the impor­tance of its wide­spread dis­tri­b­u­tion through visu­al­ly cap­ti­vat­ing dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy. Peo­ple wish­ing to see the draw­ings should not have to be at the Ack­land to enjoy them. Rather, a deep and sig­nif­i­cant expe­ri­ence is achiev­able through a robust web­site. This site, there­fore, acts as the pri­ma­ry dig­i­tal des­ti­na­tion for the Peck Col­lec­tion, pro­vid­ing an edu­ca­tion­al resource that is both infor­ma­tion­al and visu­al­ly stim­u­lat­ing. It encour­ages dis­cov­ery through high-res­o­lu­tion imagery and in-depth schol­ar­ly com­men­tary. The web­site will be reg­u­lar­ly updat­ed with past and cur­rent schol­ar­ship, and will con­tin­u­al­ly build aware­ness of the Peck Col­lec­tion and its sig­nif­i­cance through new content.