When Albert Hinckley first encountered the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, he was surprised at the depth and quality of the collections. Five decades later, he's come to expect exceptional things from the museum.
An architect based in Warrenton, Virginia, Albert's practice has included residential projects, schools, even passenger ships. His art interests are equally wide-ranging, something he attributes to his grandfather, George Fox Steedman, who shared his dual passions for architecture and the arts. While an engineer by trade, Steedman built a Spanish Colonial Revival house and garden in Montecito, California, that is now a National Historic Landmark and museum, where Albert serves on the board. Steedman was also an accomplished silversmith, a hobby that intrigued Albert as a child and forged his first connection with VMFA.
In the 1960s, he loaned the museum a silver repoussé toilet service that dates to England's Restoration period. The loan later became a gift, which was followed by a complementary donation to the library: his grandfather's collection of rare books on silverwork.
Albert has also enhanced VMFA's East Asian holdings, donating a hanging scroll he had purchased while traveling in Japan. "As much as I enjoyed living with this work of art, I knew that I couldn't provide the conditions or care that it needed," he says. "It belonged in a museum." He was delighted to see the 14th century work featured when the East Asian galleries reopened in 2012.
Years later, Albert decided to establish a charitable gift annuity with the museum in order to create an income stream as he approached retirement. "I had planned to include VMFA in my will," he explains, "but a CGA makes so much more sense. By making the gift now, I can enjoy the income and the museum still receives what I would have given as a bequest." Albert has been pleased with his investment and recently created a second CGA with VMFA.
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