Local High School's Million Dollar Art Collection Has New Home

By Eric Olson

October 11, 2013 Updated Oct 11, 2013 at 12:44 PM EDT

PERU, Indiana--Peru High School has lots of things going for it…a great mascot…great students…a great cafeteria…and something most high schools don’t have…a new hi-tek art gallery to exhibit its own multimillion dollar fine art collection.

These are works from the G. David Thompson Collection, owned entirely by Peru Community Schools…paintings, prints, sculptures, pottery..a collection worth millions of dollars. It was created by this man, G. David Thompson, a Peru High School grad who made millions in the steel industry. Thompson struggled in high school until a teacher, John Whittenberger, introduced him to art and turned his life around. Thompson never forgot him, or Peru High School. When he became a millionaire he began shipping masterpieces back to his hometown, back to his old art teacher.

“He collected Picasso’s, Paul Klee, lots of big modern abstract names,” says museum curator Connie Cutler. “But he still had family and a love of Peru so he started donating pieces back.”

Pieces by the world’s greatest artists..this is by the Spanish surrealist Miro…this self portrait, by Malcolm Parcell. This water scene is by America’s foremost impressionist painter William Merit Chase, worth several million dollars. For years these paintings hung on the walls and in the offices of Peru’s public schools, but a volunteer effort got them out of the halls, cleaned and restored and now housed in a new hi-tek, environmentally controlled gallery built just for this collection, all of it open to the public….a marvelous gift from a generous alum who never forgot his roots...or the high school art teacher who reached out to him, just when he needed it most. Eric Olson reporting out in 21 Country.

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