The story of New York art collectors Dorothy and Herbert Vogel has to be one of the most endearing in 20th-century art history. Dorothy, a librarian, and Herbert, a postal clerk, have acquired over 4,000 works together since marrying in 1962 (they marked their engagement with a Picasso ceramic).
The couple made the decision to live off Dorothy's income and devote Herb's income to buying art. Their story reflects that of several other collector-couples I know; the enduring relationships of mutual support and enjoyment with artists, the early adoption of new artists and trends, and the utter lack of regard for the question "where the hell it go?".
In 1992 the Vogels entered an agreement with the National Gallery of Art, and since then over 1000 works from their collection have either been donated or promised as gifts to the NGA. In 2008 an even bigger scheme was announced: The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States. 2,500 works from the Vogel's collection are being distributed through the programme.
The 50x50 website is one of the most enjoyable art sites I've seen. Only 350-ish artworks have made it up there, but the way the Vogels' story is told through text, image, video and audio is lovely, and interlinking between artworks, artists, and institutions is nicely handled.
I spent quite a lot of time clicking around - more than I spend on the average gallery site, digitised collection or exhibition website. I think this was because the scope is broad - nearly 50 years' of art - but the narrative is tight, and you can take one without the other. The search by date feature I found particularly appealing, perhaps because it's tied to people's lives. (I buy a bit of art every now and then, and when I look around the house, each piece is tied to a person, event or milestone - that roadtrip, that birthday, that job change) . The site obviously has a lot of content to add, but there's something delightful about it, without being the least bit hokey - kinda like I imagine the Vogels to be.