Sandro Botticelli, Saint Augustine in His Study (detail), c. 1494, probably tempera and oil (tempera grassa) on panel. Le Gallerie degli Uffizi, Florence, Galleria delle Statue e delle Pitture, inv. 1890, no. 1473.

How JPMorgan Chase helped bring the Uffizi to Minnesota

By Tim Gihring //

When Pilar Oppedisano, the market manager and executive director of J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Minneapolis, learned that Mia was planning the exhibition “Botticelli and Renaissance Florence: Masterworks from the Uffizi,” now on view through January 8, she recognized a rare opportunity—and knew exactly who to call.

Because not only is J.P. Morgan one of the world’s largest banks, it also houses the oldest corporate art collection in the world, displayed in its corporate spaces in 60 countries. Aware of this great resource, Pilar reached out to Charlotte Eyerman, PhD, the global head and executive director of the JPMorgan Chase Art Collection.

Charlotte Eyerman

Eyerman came to the job in 2017 after a long career in academia, museums, and art-world organizations like FRAME, the French American Museum Exchange (of which Mia is a member). She has known Mia director Katie Luber and Uffizi director Eike Schmidt for years.

“The art world is small and interconnected,” she says, “and Katie and I have a lot in common. We’re both very interested in the ways in which art can open our minds and serve as a portal to see the world in new ways.”

The JPMorgan Chase collection was founded in 1959 by David Rockefeller, who became president of the bank the following year and was a wide-ranging art collector himself. He called it Art at Work, a reference not just to the workplace but the artists themselves, whom he saw as hardworking entrepreneurs.

Eyerman thinks of the collection as a “catalyst for connection,” using art to connect people to each other—and the past. “In the world we live in, it can be hard to be transported to a different time,” she says. “But if you remind people that all art was contemporary once, suddenly they can imagine that Botticelli once lived and worked in Florence, a place that in the 15th century was a hub of innovation—the Silicon Valley of its day.”

At the height of the Renaissance, Florence brought together capital, technology, global trade, and an openness to new ideas that still resonates today. “The iPhone wouldn’t exist without these same things,” Eyerman says. Indeed, to appreciate how innovation thrived 500 years ago, in Italy, is to appreciate what’s required today to innovate—in business or any other field.

This is the value of a corporate art collection, Eyerman notes, as well as exhibitions like the collaboration between Mia and the Uffizi. “To have an in-real-life encounter with art, to witness creativity on this scale, is so important,” she says. “That these tremendous works are traveling from Florence to Minneapolis is a once-in-a-life event. This should be a destination exhibition, a tremendous opportunity no matter where you live.”