The Nicolaysen Art Museums Special Collection by Carl Link (1887-1968) comprises the second largest subcategory of our Permanent Collection. It includes approximately 2,000 drawings, paintings and works on paper by the German-America artist, commercial illustrator, and art educator. It came to the museum through a series of donations by one donor over a period of seven years, from 1984 until 1991. The initial donation in 1984 was one of the first acquisitions made by the museum and helped establish the museum as a collecting institution. Illustrations and paintings by Link can be found in museums throughout the West. Link immigrated to the United States in September 1914 and spent years teaching, designing costumes and theater sets, as well as creating portraits of actors and dancers in New York, before moving to the West. From 1936 to 1938, he taught art classes at Glacier National Park in Montana and at Lake Tahoe. He continued to spend time at Lake Tahoe until his death in 1968.
In 2013 the staff at the NIC decided to complete a thorough cataloging of the entire Link collection. Although it had been cataloged by various employees in the past, the NIC needed the database to be current, complete and include images of every piece. We applied to The Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund and were awarded a generous grant that was used to catalog the Carl Link Illustrations, make an online database of the Carl Link collection available to the public and to create a book on the art of Carl Link. A Collections Assistant was hired to focus exclusively on cataloging this collection, which included scanning, photographing and describing every object associated with the artist.
Once the cataloging was complete, the grant was then used on two other major projects. The first was to make a portion of the Carl Link collection viewable for the first time ever to the public through our website www.thenic.org Secondly, the Carl Link cataloging efforts were applied to creating the first ever publication on the work and life of the artist Carl Link. The book, entitled The Art of Carl Link, includes more than one hundred sketches, thirty finished works, a forward by Eric K. Wimmer, Curator of Art at the Nicolaysen Art Museum and an essay written by Illustration Historian Fred Taraba.
With the completion of these projects the museum is up-to-date on a complete catalog of Carl Links work. The online component of the Carl Link collection will allow us to share the work with a much larger audience than ever before, and allow students and researchers to view images that have previously been unavailable to the public. The completion of the book will also allow us to share the work of Carl Link well beyond the walls of our museum to a national reach and be used to accompany a traveling show of the artists work in the near future.