In the exhibition and collection catalogue Bridge of Dreams, published in conjunction with the 2000 Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Masterpieces of Japanese Art from the Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Burke credits her mother, Mary Livingston Griggs, for developing her astute eye and passion for collecting. Livingston Griggs raised the family in her St. Paul, Minnesota childhood home and filled it with old master paintings and European furniture collected from her travels.
In 1968, Mary Griggs Burke bequeathed the home to the Minnesota Historical Society as a museum. Our upcoming Fine Furniture, Decorative Arts and Silver auction will feature a collection of works from the Burbank-Livingston-Griggs House.
Of her childhood home, Mary Griggs Burke wrote, “Throughout mother’s life she found much pleasure in collecting antiques, which on a large scale included complete eighteenth-century paneled European rooms, which were-cleverly and amazingly- installed in the Victorian house.”
Regarding the house’s influence on her collecting, she said, “By the time Mother had finished redoing it, the mid-nineteenth century house contained such a variety of styles and objects from different cultures, including a few Chinese ceramics, that it was like a museum. Living in such an environment undoubtedly helped me to develop a respect for rare, carefully crafted objects, and being surrounded by so many interesting things probably gave me an eclectic taste. Collecting was in my blood.”