The outdoor sculpture collection of the Berman Museum is comprised of more than 75 contemporary artworks spread over the grounds of Ursinus College, forming a unique perceptual and physical gateway to the campus at large.
Together Philip and Muriel Berman discovered a passion for sculpture, often commissioning outdoor works by such artists as Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick, and Tom Sternal for installation on the grounds of their Allentown home. As their enthusiasm for collecting grew they became known as some of the most generous donors of outdoor sculpture in the country, gifting works to museums, sculpture gardens, and universities across the Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley region.
The Bermans valued art immensely in their everyday lives and wanted to share that love of art with a wider community. The Bermans made their first gift of outdoor sculpture to Ursinus College in 1980 with Glenn Zweygardt’s Bearkeeper and Upheaval II. In time, the pair donated over 90 percent of the Berman Museum of Art’s current outdoor collection. As a result, the collection is a unique record of a specific time and place in the trajectory of art history, as well as the taste and motivations of this fascinating couple.
There are three main strands of sculpture on the Ursinus campus, which reflect in part the Berman’s collecting and stewardship interests. These include works by British sculptor Lynn Chadwick, contemporary sculpture inspired by industry and industrial materials, and recent figurative sculpture by artists such as J. Seward Johnson, Jr. and George R. Anthonisen.
“We believe art should be seen; sculpture should be in public places and art should be in the arena of learning such as colleges and universities.”