Christmas Day in in 1890 was a sad one on Spring Street in Rochester. Marion Stratton Gould, age 13, had breathed her last, leaving behind her mother and her aunts to grieve her. Marion came to Rochester a few years earlier from Milwaukee with her mother, Hannah Durand Gould, who had been widowed in Boston when Marion was a small child. Marion was said to have been talented in art and music, but not much else in known about her.
After the founding of the Memorial Art Gallery in 1913, Mrs. Gould became an active member, lending her artwork to exhibitions and joining the managing board. At her death, she left a substantial amount of Kodak stock to MAG for the purpose of establishing a fund in her daughter Marion's memory, the income of which was to be used exclusively for the acquisition of art for the young museum. This was the first fund that made it possible for MAG to purchase art for the collection rather than relying on gifts of art from generous patrons. In 1938, the very first work acquired through this fund was a 17th century painting by El Greco. Since then, well over a thousand acquisitions have entered MAG's collection (and Rochester's) thanks to Mrs. Gould's wish to honor her daughter's memory through works of art.
Many of these artworks are favorites of visitors to MAG: the pair of Egyptian coffins; Fritz Trautmann's painting, "Galaxy"; Thomas Hart Benton's Regionalist masterpiece, "Boomtown"; and Jacob Lawrence's exuberant "Summer Street Scene in Harlem." Marion's name accompanies artworks that go on loan to museums around the country and around the world.
One hundred and twenty years have passed since that sad day in December, when it seemed as though Marion Stratton Gould would fade from memory. But thanks to her mother's generous gift, we remember Marion at MAG every day as we steward the legacy of art that enriches the lives of so many and will for the foreseeable future.