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Monday, 01 September 2014 11:56

A Look at One of the Top Contemporary Art Collections in the Country

Georgia O'Keeffe's 'Abstraction,' 1945/1980. Georgia O'Keeffe's 'Abstraction,' 1945/1980. Georgia O'Keeffe/Ricardo Barros

As a small-town Midwestern boy in the 1940s, Robert Duncan saved souvenir license plates from cereal boxes, not knowing that he was igniting a passion for collecting painting and sculpture.

"The stakes are just higher in contemporary art," says Mr. Duncan, now 72, "and the game is more fun."

Mr. Duncan and his wife, Karen, have spent decades building a collection of contemporary art that former museum director George Neubert ranks among the 50 best in the country. It encompasses nearly 2,000 works by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Bruce Nauman, Yinka Shonibare and Kiki Smith.

The couple live in Lincoln, Neb., but maintain strong ties with their hometown of Clarinda, Iowa, where they went on their first date as junior-high students. The Duncans are turning the 1908 Carnegie library there into the Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum.

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