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Philanthropist and publisher Joseph F. McCrindle devoted his life to his passions: literature and art. The founder and editor of the Transatlantic Review, McCrindle amassed a collection of thousands of works of art during his lifetime, and more than 450 were given to The Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Beginning June 20, approximately 130 of the prints, drawings and paintings received by the Ackland will be on display in an exhibition titled “An Eye for the Unexpected: Gifts from the Joseph F. McCrindle Collection.” The works on view will be arranged into three thematic sections: Studies; Environments: Landscape and Genre Scenes; and Stories.

“Going through McCrindle’s collection is like being taken through a great museum by a connoisseur who passes by the familiar ‘tourist attraction’ art works and instead calls your attention to lesser-known paintings or drawings that are just as deserving of your attention,” said Timothy Riggs, the exhibition’s curator and the Ackland’s curator of collections. “Throughout are styles and subjects that McCrindle gravitated toward, such as dramatic, emotional expression and humorous art.”

Ackland works in “An Eye for the Unexpected” will be supplemented by loans of McCrindle gifts received by four other North Carolina art museums: North Carolina Museum of Art, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, the Weatherspoon Art Museum at UNC-Greensboro and the Mint Museum in Charlotte.

In addition to celebrating McCrindle’s gifts to the Ackland, “An Eye for the Unexpected” will mark Riggs’ final exhibition as an Ackland curator. He will retire this summer.

“In 30 years of indefatigable curatorial work, Tim has enriched the cultural and intellectual life of the Ackland and its visitors in ways both visible and invisible, but all lasting and profound,” said Ackland director Emily Kass. “It might be said that Tim Riggs and Joseph McCrindle share an ‘eye for the unexpected,’ and we are very pleased that this culminating exhibition has allowed a valued and respected colleague to engage with the taste and character of a man with whom he clearly feels such an affinity.”

“Inside McCrindle’s World,” an interactive space where one may experience additional aspects of the art collector’s life, will be adjacent to the exhibition. Visitors are invited to listen to classical vinyl records that McCrindle might have liked; leaf through issues of the Transatlantic Review, the literary magazine that he founded and published; and use their own “eye for the unexpected” in a hands-on, make-your-own-exhibition area.

By Emily Bowles, Ackland Art Museum.

Published June 18, 2014.