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The von Liebig Art Center - Mission
The mission of the Naples Art Association at the von Liebig Art Center is to promote and advance education, interest and participation in the contemporary visual arts.
The von Liebig Art Center - History
The Naples Art Association was founded in 1954 as a not-for-profit visual arts organization by local artists Grace Lake, George Rogers and Elsie Upham. A Petition for Charter was filed on June 15, 1954 with thirty signatures.
In 1956, NAA members began to meet and exhibit work regularly as part of an outdoor painting group. Since art instruction was not available to Collier County public school students in 1957, NAA members volunteered their expertise until the public school's art program was established.
In 1971, the first annual Sponsors Show was organized to raise funds to provide art scholarships to Collier County high school students to further their art studies at the college level. NAA continues to support this scholarship exhibition program, currently awarding $6,000 annually to local students. In 1979, the NAA began its first education program and until June 1998, offered adult classes, lectures and workshops in the historic Naples Depot.
The NAA organized its first outdoor show in 1957, with 37 exhibiting members. This evolved into the present Art in the Park series. In 1980, NAA organized its first annual Spring Art Show in Cambier Park, that later became known as the Naples National Art Festival, a two-day fundraising event attracting high caliber exhibiting artists nationally and abroad. Proceeds benefit the von Liebig Art Center's programs. In 1968, the NAA began the search for a permanent location to build an art facility which 24 years later was realized.
In 1992, the Naples City Council voted to enter into a lease agreement with the NAA, providing an 8,000 sq. ft. footprint of public park land in Cambier Park on which to build a community arts center. After a successful capital campaign, the $3.5 million was raised with major funding provided by the state and a lead private gift from Naples season resident, Suzanne and the late William J. von Liebig, noted cultural and medical research philanthropists.
The Naples Art Association's von Liebig Art Center, designed by Naples architect Alfred French, was officially dedicated and opened to the public, debt-free, on November 22, 1998, with its founding executive director hired on October 1, 1998. The inaugural exhibition of fifty works from its newly formed permanent collection of post-war American Art, an initiative begun in 1995 and acquired through gifts, was exhibited. The two story, 16,000 sq. ft. center features six studios, lobby gallery, a main exhibition gallery, four galleries-in-the-round, two collection storage vaults, library resource center, gift shop, administrative offices and a catering kitchen.
Changing exhibitions of contemporary American art, with a focus on Florida art, are offered, free and open to the public six days a week throughout the year. The education program provided adults and youth with non-credit, enriching art courses, lectures, workshops and tours. The NAA membership has averaged 1500 annually since the center opened. In 1999, the board voted to seek museum accreditation from AAM, and in September of 2001, the AAM awarded an IMLS MAP grant for institutional planning toward this effort.
To sustain The von Liebig Art Center's operations, an endowment fund was established in 1999. In 2000, the board recognized that the center was not adequate to sustain current and future growth, and plans for an additional facility began. A case statement was developed and a feasibility study was conducted in spring of 2001. Based on this study, the board voted to embark on a $10 million endowment and capital campaign. The board and staff in 2001 also developed and approved a long-range strategic plan for 2001-2006 to guide us toward future goals.
The von Liebig Art Guild was formed in 1999 to sustain the center through series of fundraising events and social events. With 95 active members, this growing support group continues to surpass its annual goals.
Through its 46-year history, the Naples Art Association has remained fiscally sound and held in good standing by the Naples community. In less than three years, The NAA's von Liebig Art Center has become a well-respected, and vital cultural resource, and widely recognized for bringing excellence in the visual arts to the growing southwest Florida community.
About William J. von Liebig
Born in Huntingdon, Pa, in 1923, William von Liebig earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Juniata College, a Master of Science degree from the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences, and a Master of Business Administration degree from New York University. He received a doctorate degree from Juniata College posthumously in May 1999.
During World War II, he served as Alternate Lead Pilot with the 8th Air Force in Europe. The operations officer to whom he reported was Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Stewart with the famous 389th Bomb Group. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and a Presidential Citation for his military service.
After the war, William von Liebig embarked on a career in textile sales and manufacturing, which, coupled with his interest in medicine, led to the development of Meadox Medicals, Inc. in 1961. Meadox Medicals manufactured and distributed vascular grafts and other devices designed to treat cardiovascular disease. Mr. von Liebig held 33 patents for vascular prostheses, and his inventions have made significant contributions to the field of vascular surgery, particularly to the technologic advancement of textile vascular grafts used in the reconstruction and replacement of human arteries.
Over the years, he received a host of achievement awards, including the Gold Hektoen Award from the American Medical Association, the 1995 Independent Inventor of the Year Award from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and the 1995 Carothers Medal from the Textile Institute in England. In 1991, Mr. von Liebig received the national Alumni Achievement Award from Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA.
In 1975, he established The von Liebig Foundation, which generously supports medical research, primarily for the treatment of vascular and cardiovascular diseases. In 1981, the Foundation established an award for residents and fellows, officially known as the Award for Excellence in Vascular Surgical Research for Residents, Fellows and Mentors, which was granted annually 1981-2003, to encourage and recognize research among young trainees interested in a career in vascular surgery. Eighty-two percent (82%) of award recipients pursued careers in Vascular or Cardiothoracic Surgical Research. Five (5) recipients became Fellows of the American College of Surgeons, three (3) were Associate members of the College and nine (9) recipients became successful peer review funded researchers in vascular surgery.
Vascular Research Fellowships and Endovascular Research Fellowships have been awarded to support individuals pursuing academic research careers and endovascular training. The achievements of vascular surgeons have been previously recognized through awards which included Presidential Chairs and Awards to four Vascular Surgical Societies.
The William J. von Liebig Awards are awards jointly sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the Lifeline Foundation through a grant from The William J. von Liebig Foundation. The purpose of this award is to support the development of clinician research scientists. Currently eight awards are active with the von Liebig Foundation providing $75,000 for each award.
Mr. von Liebig provided a grant to The Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan to establish a program named in honor of Emerick and Eve Szilagyi. Dr. Szilagyi was a long time friend of Mr. von Liebig and provided considerable assistance in establishing the Residents and Fellows Award mentioned previously.
In 1999, The William J. von Liebig Initiative for Vascular Devices and Technology was established at the Harvard Institutes of Medicine through a multiple year grant from the von Liebig Foundation.
The Foundation has provided a major grant to Mr. von Liebig's alma mater, Juniata College, to establish a science program for the 21st century including the William J. von Liebig Center for Science Building.
Other scientific initiatives that stress education, applied research, and support of technology transfer from the laboratory to the physicians' hands in order to improve patient quality of life have been supported. The von Liebig Foundation has focused its attention on funding unique programs or concepts in the medical health area and has supported various programs not covered by major government or private grants.
In 1990, William von Liebig and his wife, Suzanne, relocated to Naples, Florida. They continued their philanthropic efforts, expanding their mission to affect an even broader population. Together they have supported the arts and education with substantial gifts in their community to the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts, The Naples Art Association's von Liebig Art Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Collier County, the Collier County Education Foundation and The Naples Depot.
Information courtesy The von Liebig Art Center