The BYU Museum of Art honors the exemplary life and legacy of Roy Christensen, who passed away late last night. Christensen's generosity, along with that of his wife Carol and their eleven children, established the position of Roy and Carol Christensen Curator of Religious Art, made possible a number of masterpiece acquisitions, and facilitated several large-scale exhibitions. The Museum can never repay the debt of gratitude we owe to the Christensen family, and we collectively pray for each of them during this time of mourning.
In addition to providing funds to help the Museum acquire artworks from artists such as Arnold Friberg, Franz Ittenbach, Bruce Smith, Marianne Stokes, and Ernst Zimmerman, the Christensens' magnanimity enabled the MOA to put on world class exhibitions including Carl Bloch: The Master's Hand and Sacred Gifts: The Religious Art of Carl Bloch, Heinrich Hoffman, and Franz Schwartz.
'Roy served and blessed his mutual sojourners, emulating the Savior’s example, said Emeritus Director Mark Magleby, who worked with the Christensens on both aforementioned exhibitions. 'Roy’s engagement with the BYU MOA has immeasurably strengthened the museum’s relevance to diverse audiences and has brought to light artists who witness of the mission and teachings of Jesus Christ, and who prompt discipleship. Whenever Roy was in Denmark, he was invited to deploy his flawless missionary Danish to share stories and testimony with three generations of members of the Church in Copenhagen.'
In 2015, the Christensens set up the Museum's first endowed curatorship, which is currently held by its inaugural appointee Ashlee Whitaker. These funds enable Whitaker as the Roy and Carol Christensen Curator of Religious Art to lead the MOA's curatorial efforts to collect, preserve, and showcases artworks of spiritual significance that have blessed the lives of Museum visitors ever since.
'The Gospel of Jesus Christ was at Roy Christensen’s core,' Whitaker said. 'He and his beloved Carol believed deeply in the power of sacred art to inspire faith, heal, build bridges, and bring souls to Christ. They had the vision and the truly rare generosity to ensure that a religious program of art always remain at the heart of the BYU Museum of Art. It is truly an honor to serve as the Roy and Carol Christensen Curator of Religious Art. Under that title, we have had the opportunity to speak of faith and sacred art in venues across the country, to likewise collaborate and build relationships with scholars and institutions, and create awareness of BYU and our Museum’s mission to champion art that edifies and speaks of faith and the Savior, Jesus Christ. His legacy in promoting the exhibition and scholarship of religious art is immeasurable. Exhibitions now and for years to come will testify of Roy and Carol’s discipleship.'
Roy and Carol met while attending Brigham Young University, and Roy had the rare opportunity to served a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the height of the Korean War. After three years of service in Denmark, he reunited with Carol and they married shortly after. Eventually, they moved to California where he opened his own accounting firm and they raised their children.