The Joys of Collecting

By Louise Irvine

After founding his museum in California, J. Paul Getty reminisced, “the romance and zest—the excitement, suspense, thrills, and triumphs—that make art collecting one of the most exhilarating and satisfying of all human endeavors.” This sentiment is echoed by Arthur Wiener, the founder of WMODA, who has experienced the joys of collecting throughout his life. As we celebrate his milestone birthday in December, we reflect on some memorable collecting experiences we have shared.

In childhood, Arthur collected seashells and began his lifetime love of the sea. As a young law graduate, Arthur took his first trip to London and came across a Royal Doulton character jug of Merlin. The magician cast a spell on him, and some years later, he began to search for more at antique fairs, where he met specialist dealers Ed Pascoe and Arron Rimpley. They introduced him to all types of Royal Doulton art wares, and he has amassed the most extensive collection in the world.

Arthur traveled regularly to London to attend the decorative arts auctions at Bonhams and Christie’s. He also joined customized collectors’ tours to the UK, visiting Doulton’s original art pottery in Lambeth and watching skilled artisans at work in the Staffordshire Potteries. Cruising is one of Arthur’s favorite ways to relax from his busy work life, and he has participated in several transatlantic voyages and Caribbean cruises with fellow collectors. Many of his collecting friends have been welcomed to see his extensive private collections in his New York homes.

Over the years, Arthur’s interests have expanded to include many other British art potteries. During his travels, he has enjoyed meeting the artists responsible for creating his favorite pieces. At the Moorcroft Art Pottery in Staffordshire, he met Paul Hilditch and Kerry Goodwin and acquired many of their watercolors to accompany his vase collection. He stayed with Sally Tuffin and Richard Dennis at their Somerset home and commissioned Dennis Chinaworks designs for his collection. He has fond memories of visiting Roger Cockram’s studio pottery in Chittlehampton and has built an impressive collection of his ceramic art inspired by the sea.

In 2009, Arthur was introduced to Ardmore Ceramic Art and quickly became one of their most avid collectors. He is happy to know that his purchases have helped uplift a remote community in South Africa. Fée Halsted, Ardmore’s founder and creative director, visited Arthur’s New York home to see his growing collection. She officially opened the new Ardmore Gallery at WMODA in 2017.

Since 2010, Arthur has been a great fan of Dale Chihuly’s glass art and has built remarkable collections in New York and Florida. With his homes overflowing with his acquisitions, Arthur opened the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts in 2014. His Chihuly collection has proved to be a major draw at the museum. When WMODA was still in its infancy, Arthur was proud to exhibit a selection of his Macchia sculptures at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC, where Chihuly was honored in 2016.

Through WMODA, Arthur has been introduced to many other talented glass artists. He was invited for a VIP tour of the Corning Museum of Glass in their private plane. He visited Paul Stankard’s New Jersey studio and was mesmerized by his flame-working techniques for his glass orbs and paperweights. In Florida, he met Rob Stern and built a stellar collection of his work at WMODA.

Fantastic fund-raising events featuring Arthur’s magnificent Chihuly collection were held for WMODA at Arthur’s Hamptons home, and they have fired Arthur’s enthusiasm for sharing his collection with others. Most recently, he has moved the entire WMODA collection from Dania Beach to Hollywood, Florida, where it can be enjoyed by residents and tourists alike. His remarkable legacy has created a unique educational and cultural resource, but that’s not all! Arthur is also planning to construct a purpose-built museum in Florida, and his architects are at the drawing board making plans for the future of WMODA.

“I want to share my love for the fired arts and leave a legacy to educate and inspire future generations about the importance of art in our lives and culture” Arthur Wiener.

The Wiener Legacy at WMODA (2019)

Arthur Wiener Named Collector of the Year  (2018)

Founder & Benefactor – Arthur Wiener (2020)