Sophronia Anderson—Lady Bountiful
In 1938 Sophronia Anderson died.
Born and raised in Newark, she was the only child of museum trustee John F. Anderson and she bequeathed a number of personal objects to the museum, including a charming folk portrait of her father as a little boy.
More importantly, she made the museum her sole beneficiary, which resulted in an endowment of $100,000 specifically to build the museum’s collections. The Sophronia Anderson Bequest Fund, as it has always been called, generates what is today a modest amount of income that the museum spends on acquisitions. The fund was first used to purchase art in 1940, when the museum bought Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s painting Milk Train.
Since that historic first purchase, every single collecting area in the museum has benefited from Miss Anderson’s generosity. The $6000 per year the museum receives from that bequest has resulted in the acquisition of millions of dollars in art for New Jersey’s largest and finest museum and has helped the Newark Museum achieve national importance because of its global collections.
Important works by American painters and sculptors, Native American, Asian, ancient Mediterranean and African artists have entered the museum by way of Miss Anderson’s bequest fund, as well as decorative arts objects of all periods and media, from silver to quilts and ceramics. Scores of natural history specimens were acquired with Miss Anderson’s generosity through the purchase of the Francis G. Himpler fossil collection in 1961. All in all nearly 1400 objects have been purchased in the past 74 years because of one woman’s love for this institution.
– Ulysses Grant Dietz, Chief Curator, Curator of Decorative Arts