Date of Project


Document Type

Honors Thesis

School Name

College of Arts and Sciences



Major Advisor

Cristina Carbone

Second Advisor

Laura Hartford

Third Advisor

Johnathan Blandford


Art collecting and the methods of acquiring art are constantly changing with the times. While some world-class collections are filled with a wide range of art types-- paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photographs--the public has little knowledge of how these pieces are chosen and accumulated. Competition in the art scene is undoubtedly a factor, but an argument can be made about whether some collectors choose works for highly personal reasons. The subject of this thesis is a local fine art collection, the Mary and Al Shands Collection of the Great Meadows estate based in Crestwood, Kentucky. This stunning in-home art gallery is a remarkable example of a carefully curated collection that has grown exponentially in size and status, with pieces by world-famous modern artists such as Anish Kapoor, Maya Lin, and Sol LeWitt. This thesis will focus specifically on the collection’s formation, key players, standout pieces, artist-and-collector relationships, and an examination of how the collection fits within contemporary collecting practices. This project will provide insight as to what elements of art speak to our hearts and souls, as well as demonstrate how artistic vision and inspiration, not merely fame or preeminence, are the key factors in making an art collection truly great.