Celebrating Asian Art
Nalin brothers' gifts key
to expanded collection
by KEVIN FOLEY
A collection starts with passion,
and who can truly say where passion begins? Dr. Richard Nalin 63
and his brother Dr. David Nalin are prominent collectors of Asian art,
a pursuit they began when David worked in public health in 1960s
Pakistan. But the traits that supported their drive to assemble a world-class
assemblage of diverse art began earlier.
We were both brought up in New York City and museums were a major
part of our life in our early years, says Richard, now a Los Angeles
dentist. We used to spend weekends at the Museum of Natural History
in New York, wandering through that museum aimlessly dreaming of what
Now the Nalins have turned their attention to another museum, UVMs
Fleming, which Richard calls a little jewel of the Northeast.
Over the past several years, they have given a diverse group of pieces
to the museum including Gandharan (present-day Pakistan) sculpture, ancient
Indus Valley ceramics, and more contemporary Pakistani textiles. The museum
also recently received a major gift of Southeast Asian artifacts, primarily
Buddhist-themed pieces from Thailand, from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
William Pickens 56 donated a collection of rare Japanese theater
The Fleming will celebrate
a year of significant and fast increase in its Asian art holdings with
a special exhibition, Arts of Asia: Recent Acquisitions from the
Nalin, Duke, and Pickens Collections. John Seyller, professor of
art history, will curate the exhibition. Hes excited about the gifts
and says the infusion of new objects is already making a huge curricular
From wildly colored wedding dresses to a rare fourth-century sculpture
of the Buddha of the future, the show has aesthetic punch as well, making
a diverse range of faraway times and places immediate and tangible. This
power of art to transcend space and time fascinates Richard Nalin. The
terracotta painted pots are 5,000 years old and just pristine, as intact
as the day they were made, he says. For them to last like
that is astounding. You see them and you feel the history.
David Nalin, who first began buying art in Pakistan in part to save it
from being melted down for scrap has, over 37 years of collecting and
study, become an art history expert who relishes seeing that history communicated
to the public. Nalin has watched with occasional frustration as pieces
from his collection disappear into the annals of museums for long stretches,
so he prizes public events. It can be frustrating when more people
can see things at ones home than can at a museum, he says.
The greatest excitement is when theres an exhibition.
Arts of Asia
will be at the Fleming Museum from February to June.