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Art Institute of Chicago expands presentation of Rubloff Paperweights Collection
The installation includes new glass masterpiece produced by artist Paul Stankard.

CHICAGO, IL.- The Art Institute of Chicago announced the expansion of its gallery dedicated to the Arthur Rubloff Collection of paperweights. The new presentation, made possible by generous support from the International Paperweight Society Foundation and L.H. Selman, Ltd., along with the involvement of the family of Wes Clark in memory of Paul Jokelson, will more than double the number of paperweights on view and allow for a more expansive and accessible display of the works. The refreshed space--which includes more than 800 gorgeous, colorful glass masterpieces with mesmerizing patterns and designs produced from the early 19th century through the present--is located in Gallery 15 (lower level of the Allerton Building at the Woman's Board Grand Staircase) and opens to the public on September 28, 2012.

"The paperweight collection of Arthur Rubloff is one of the finest in the world," said Christopher Monkhouse, Eloise W. Martin Chair and Curator, Department of European Decorative Arts at the Art Institute. "There are few collections that more fully showcase the quality of craftsmanship, technological innovation, intricacy, and beauty of this form. We are extremely grateful for this gift, which will allow us to enhance the presentation of this collection and more than double the number of works of art on display for the hundreds of thousands who visit it every year."

Arthur Rubloff (1902-1983) was born in Duluth, Minnesota, and moved to Chicago at age 17 to pursue a career in real estate. By 1929 Rubloff had founded his own real estate firm, which is known for a number of development projects in Chicago, including the Magnificent Mile, the Carl Sandburg Village, and the Evergreen Plaza shopping center. He was also a dedicated philanthropist, contributing to such institutions as the University of Chicago Hospitals, Northwestern University Law School, and the Art Institute.

Rubloff was among the first generation of 20th-century collectors to rediscover paperweights of the mid-19th century, known as the Classic period. He made his first purchases in 1947 as gifts for his partner, who had a small collection, but Rubloff soon became fascinated with the objects himself, as did a growing number of collectors who gathered under the umbrella of the Paperweight Collectors Association, founded in 1953. Famous collectors included the American writer Truman Capote, who wrote that the paperweight was like "some fragment of a dream." Rubloff eventually amassed a total of 1,472 paperweights, of which 1,200 were donated to the Art Institute in 1978. The Rubloff Collection at the Art Institute is recognized as one of three premier collections in the world; the others are housed in the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, and the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum in Neenah, Wisconsin.

The newly expanded gallery increases the number of paperweights currently on view, from 341 to more than 800. Eight new wall cases, along with a new pedestal case, have been installed, all to highlight a larger selection from the collection. In addition, for the first time a dedicated space will feature a fine selection of contemporary paperweight design. A beautiful new piece titled Honeybee Swarm with Flowers and Fruit (2012) produced especially for the gallery reopening by renowned paperweight artist Paul Stankard is one of the highlights. "This work represents my passion for integrating mysticism with botanical realism to give glass organic credibility," said Stankard. "This paperweight orb celebrates the primal beauty of nature on an intimate level. Because the Rubloff Collection exhibits examples of my early work, the inclusion of Honeybee Swarm with Flowers and Fruit visually illustrates the evolution of my career and this art form."

The unveiling of the new gallery dedicated to the Arthur Rubloff Collection of paperweights represents another milestone in the most ambitious renovation and reinstallation project in the Art Institute's history.

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