$1 Million-plus endowment from Worths will support arts at Nebraska

Peter and Inge Worth. Photos courtesy of University Archives and Special Collections, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries.
Peter and Inge Worth. Photos courtesy of University Archives and Special Collections, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries.

$1 Million-plus endowment from Worths will support arts at Nebraska

calendar icon07 Nov 2017    

Lincoln, Neb.—A newly established, permanent endowment on behalf of a late University of Nebraska–Lincoln professor and his family will mean increased access and opportunity for students seeking education in the arts at Nebraska, as well as key support for research and professional growth in the university’s Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.

Professor Emeritus of Art History Peter J. Worth and his wife, Inge, have given more than $1 million through their estate to the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts with the Peter and Inge Worth Endowment Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation. Peter Worth died in 2010; Inge Worth, in 2016.

The gift will provide annual support for a scholarship and faculty travel and research funds for the School of Art, Art History & Design; a piano scholarship in the Glenn Korff School of Music; and travel and research funds for students in the Hixson-Lied College.

“We are extremely thankful for the generosity of Peter and Inge Worth to create this wonderful endowment that will benefit so many areas of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts,” said Chuck O’Connor, endowed dean of the college. “As a long-time faculty member and former chair of the art department, this gift is a wonderful remembrance of Peter and Inge and their love of the arts.”

University of Nebraska Foundation Director of Development Connie Pejsar said the gift is especially meaningful, given the Worths’ connections to the university.

“Peter served as a professor of art history and chair of the art department for so many years, and Inge also worked at the university for many years,” Pejsar said. “That fondness for the university and their life-long love of the arts makes this a very special gift for the Hixson-Lied College and will preserve their legacy at the university forever.”

Dale Nordyke, a friend of the Worths’ who managed their estate, said the gift reflects their love of the arts.

“I think their main interest in life was the arts,” Nordyke said. “They did get back to Europe. Travel was sort of their only real extravagance. Inge’s main pastime in Lincoln was thrifting, so that was kind of her way of life. But music was always an interest, which included founding the Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music, and of course, Peter was in the art department.”

Originally from England, Peter Worth attended the School of Art in Ipswich from 1934-1937 and then the Royal College of Art in London from 1937-1939.

He began his career at Nebraska in 1948 and was promoted to full professor in 1959. He was the art department’s acting chairman from 1953 to 1954 and then department chairman from 1954 to 1962. He taught courses in Medieval Art, Ancient Art of Egypt, Introduction to Art History and Criticism and Classical Art. He retired in 1987. Peter died in 2010 at the age of 93.

His wife, Inge, was born in Danzig, Germany. She emigrated to the U.S. with her parents in 1938. A Holocaust survivor, she donated her papers, “The Inge Worth Collection, 1868-2000” to the Leo Baeck Institute’s Center for Jewish History, where it is available digitally.

Her first husband, Manfred Keiler, was a professor at the University of Nebraska and died in 1960. She married Peter Worth in 1965. She worked at both Love Library and the Physics Department. She was one of the five founders of the Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music and served as its treasurer for six years. She died in 2016 at the age of 93.

“Peter was a prominent member of the art history faculty when I came in 1974,” said Professor Emeritus of Art Dan Howard. “He was a very solicitous person, very warm, caring individual and especially with his students. He was one-of-a-kind—a gentleman of the old school, you might say.”

Howard said while he was known for his teaching art history, not everyone knew of his studio background.

“He came from a studio background in England,” Howard said. “After he retired, he exhibited some of his drawings and sculpture pieces at Larry Roots’ gallery in Lincoln.”

Sheldon Museum of Art also has 11 of his pieces in its collection, including photographs and sculptures. In addition, the Worths are shown walking west in a photo mural by Roots that is mounted on the north side of the skywalk on 12th St. between N and O sts. in Lincoln.

Hixson-Lied Professor of Art History Alison Stewart said Inge had the love of music.

“She loved music, there’s no question about that,” Stewart said. “Inge was the one who was more musically oriented, and Peter was more visual art oriented. I think Inge must have grown up with it.”

Stewart said they were both very much European-centered.

“They had a love of that culture,” she said. “It’s that culture that valued art and valued music. So we have their endowment to thank for that connection.”

Christopher Marks, interim director of the School of Art, Art History & Design, said the gift was significant and will be put to good use.

"It's going to support some activities by both faculty and students that we don't have enough resources to support already," Marks said. "Faculty and students will benefit tremendously from additional funds for their research and travel for conferences, performances, exhibitions and more. These are invaluable experiences for our students, and they assist our faculty in promoting greater visibility for their research and creative activities."

Sergio Ruiz, director of the Glenn Korff School of Music is grateful for their support of piano.

“I am truly humbled by the generosity of Peter and Inge Worth,” Ruiz said. “I wish I could have met Mr. and Mrs. Worth to thank them personally. Like the Worths, many of our piano students are from outside the United States. This scholarship will help our piano students realize their potential as they pursue their music studies, particularly those students with great financial need.”  

Stewart said it is nice to have this endowment and preserve the memory of Peter and Inge Worth.

“It’s the memory and the continuity,” she said. “It’s good news, no matter how you slice it. It’s nice to have that additional support.”