The Mitchells inspired other southern Illinois residents to collect American art as well. By the 1940s, a handful of families in this farming and coal mining region owned works of American art that were becoming increasingly sought after by museums and art galleries. As interest in American art deepened in the 1960s, the Mitchells founded the John R. and Eleanor R. Mitchell Foundation for the purpose of building a museum on their 80-acre estate in Mt. Vernon. Eleanor Mitchell passed away in 1968 and John Mitchell died in 1971, but both knew that their dreams for enriching the cultural life of southern Illinois would be realized. In 1973, the Mitchell Museum at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts opened to the public, with the Mitchell’s collection of American paintings and drawings as the centerpiece of a vital new institution.
While the Mitchell Museum at Cedarhurst undergoes renovation and expansion, its collection has traveled to five venues, the Dixon being the last, allowing American art enthusiasts outside of southern Illinois a rare opportunity to see these remarkable works. ‘Cassatt to Wyeth’ was organized by the Dixon’s new director, Kevin Sharp. He comes to the Dixon after four years at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts.
Center for the Arts, John R. and Eleanor R. Mitchell Foundation, Mt. Vernon, IL. The tour was organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.