- Associated Press - Thursday, January 26, 2017

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - Officials at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say its Ackland Art Museum has received its largest gift ever, including seven Rembrandt works.

A statement from the school said Wednesday that alumnus Sheldon Peck and his wife Leena, both orthodontists in Boston, made a donation valued at $25 million. The commitment includes an $8 million endowment to support a new curator and future acquisitions and an art gift of 134 primarily 17th-century European masterworks, valued at $17 million, including the seven works by Rembrandt van Rijn.

With the gift, the Ackland becomes the first public university art museum in the U.S. to own a collection of drawings by Rembrandt and only the second university art museum in the nation to do so.

The gift is “a giant step forward” for the university‘s museum, said UNC Chancellor Carol Folt. “It’s a wonderful expression of the importance of the arts here,” she said.

Museum director Katie Ziglar said in a statement the works will fascinate and delight visitors for decades to come.

The collection also includes drawings by such notables as Peter Paul Rubens, Aelbert Cuyp, Jan van Goyen and Jacob van Ruisdael.

Peck graduated from the UNC School of Dentistry in 1966 and did his residency in orthodontics. He was a clinical professor of developmental biology at Harvard University’s dental school for 20 years and also served as an adjunct professor of orthodontics at UNC‘s dental school.

He is a member of Ackland‘s national advisory board.

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