The BYU Museum of Art Honors the Legacy of Jack R. Wheatley
The BYU Museum of Art honors the life and legacy of its founding and enduring patron, Jack R. Wheatley, who passed away on October 31, 2020. Jack came to esteem art and museums under the tutelage of his beloved Mary Lois (1926-2013) who was herself an academically trained painter. Jack’s experience as a contractor was of great value in the Museum of Art’s design and construction and his professional discernment continued to bless the museum over the years. There is no part of the BYU Museum of Art’s structure, collections, or vision that have not been informed and enriched by Jack Wheatley and his family.
At a pivotal moment, Jack and Mary Lois secured the iconic Christ Healing the Sick at the Pool of Bethesda by Carl Heinrich Bloch, which he repeatedly referred to as “the best investment I ever made.” This important painting has been a beacon of compassion and hope, and the MOA’s signature masterwork. Bloch’s painting thematically embodied Jack and Mary Lois’ ambitions to lift others’ burdens through educational, religious, and philanthropic means. It also shaped the vision for the museum’s program of religious art, which Jack and his family continued to support through meaningful acquisitions that underscore the ministry and redemptive role of Jesus Christ in the Christian tradition. Jack’s most recent acquisition, Edmund Blair Leighton’s The Blind Man at the Pool of Siloam, like the Bethesda painting, promises divine healing for those who rely upon their Savior.
The Wheatleys have also secured numerous significant works that greatly enhance the museum’s American art collection, including Mrs. Edward Goetz by the renowned portraitist John Singer Sargent, two beloved works by the American Realist painter Daniel Ridgeway Knight, a collection of photographs by Dorothea Lange and other important sculpture. Jack also demonstrated great enthusiasm for the strengths of the Museum’s permanent collection, encouraging exhibitions from the MOA’s luminaries Minerva Teichert, Mahonri Young and the Weir family of artists, and Maynard Dixon.
The Museum of Art is also inspired by Jack Wheatley’s personal motto: “Weigh success not in gain but in improvements to the world.” In every regard, Jack Wheatley was and remains a disciple philanthropist, enriching lives, and lifting the collective vision to a higher culture. His legacy of benevolence, integrity, and his deep appreciation for artistic quality will continue to guide the Museum of Art for generations to come.