Breaks record for arts in Boston; Funds will build spaces, programs
Source: Boston Globe, by By Geoff Edgers
The Museum of Fine Arts has reached its $500 million fund-raising goal, the largest sum for a campaign by an arts institution in Boston history.
At a board meeting announcing the milestone yesterday, the MFA disclosed key contributions it had received from major local figures in business and the arts. The West Wing will be named for Joyce and Edward Linde and their family in recognition of the more than $25 million they have given the museum for the campaign. Barbara and Ted Alfond, who have given more than $10 million, will have their names on the 150-seat auditorium in the MFA's new Art of the Americas Wing, which is set to open in 2010.
The museum's 90 trustees gave $260 million of the total, with 52 giving $1 million or more, according to MFA deputy director Patricia Jacoby, who led the campaign.
The MFA's fund-raising drive, which began in 2001, eclipses campaigns by the Peabody Essex Museum ($194 million), Boston Symphony Orchestra ($150 million), and Institute of Contemporary Art ($75 million) in recent years.
"This is a very important moment in the museum's history, and naturally I feel pleased and very excited," MFA director Malcolm Rogers said by phone yesterday.
Other Boston arts leaders have been watching, particularly the BSO, which is on the cusp of launching a $250 million to $400 million campaign, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which is looking to raise more than $100 million for a building project on its site just a short walk away from the MFA.
"It just is very heartening that a goal that seemed tremendous to all of us when the MFA began was reachable," Helena H. Hartnett, the Gardner's development director, said yesterday. "My feeling is we can all stand on the shoulders of the MFA, and they become the touchstone for what's possible for the arts in Boston."
The bulk of the money from the MFA's campaign will go to the museum's ongoing $345 million expansion project, with other funds devoted to its endowment and programs.
Designed by the London-based architecture firm Foster + Partners, the expansion will add galleries, a glass-enclosed courtyard, conservation facilities, and a host of amenities to the museum. Last week, the MFA unveiled its revamped entrance on the Back Bay Fens, the first part of the expansion project to open to the public.
The MFA, one of the largest art museums in the country, originally opened in 1876 in the Back Bay. It moved to its current building on Huntington Avenue in 1909, with major expansions in 1915 and 1981. After struggling to balance the MFA's budget in the early 1990s, museum leaders in 1994 hired Rogers, who reorganized the MFA's curatorial staff and stabilized its finances. The museum draws about a million visitors a year.
Two years ago, the MFA named its Art of the Ancient World Wing after Lowell-born pharmaceuticals magnate George D. Behrakis and his wife, Margo, for giving more than $25 million to the campaign. With the Linde naming and the existing Evans Wing, naming opportunities are still available for the new 50,000-square-foot Art of the Americas Wing and the existing Asian Wing at the southwest corner of the museum.
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"We will keep going," said Rogers. "Nonprofits never move entirely out of the fund-raising mode. We haven't set a new goal, but the work of raising resources for the museum is a constant one."
Other local arts leaders had words of praise for the MFA. "I think it's all positive," said Mark Volpe, the BSO's managing director. "When you're talking about these types of lead gifts, people are stretching, sure, but I don't think they're giving their last dollar to any institution."
Paul Bessire, deputy director of the ICA, agreed. "It's good to see what people call megagifts happening in Boston in the cultural arena," he said. "It changes the philanthropic landscape of Boston and gives opportunities to other organizations to talk about the impact these kinds of megagifts can have on an organization."
Bessire said the MFA's Art of the Americas Wing will present an exciting naming opportunity. "If the West Wing was $25 million, it could be in the 50 range," he said. "It could be more, also."
The Linde Family Wing, as it will be known, opened in 1981. Designed by I.M. Pei, it will be used to house contemporary art and will serve as the entrance for school and community groups when the expansion is completed and most museum visitors will be channeled through the Huntington Avenue and Fenway entrances.
Joyce Linde has been an MFA trustee since 2001. Edward Linde is chief executive officer of Boston Properties, which he founded in 1970 with chairman Mortimer Zuckerman. The firm is one of the largest owners, managers, and developers of office space in the country, with 48 properties in Boston alone. Linde, with a total annual compensation of $34.5 million, according to a 2008 Forbes survey, is also chairman of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's board of trustees.
The Alfond Auditorium will be used for films, concerts, and lectures. Barbara Alfond is president-elect of the MFA's board of trustees and served as cochair of the campaign. Ted Alfond is the son of the founder of Dexter Shoe Co. He and his wife have been listed in recent years on the ARTnews list of top collectors in the country.
In addition to the Linde, Alfond, and Behrakis contributions, the MFA received gifts of $10 million or more for the campaign from clothing company founder Carl Shapiro and his wife, Ruth, whose charitable foundation dates to 1961; the estate of longtime MFA supporter Roberta G. Logie, whose gift went to funding the Department of Textile and Fashion Arts in perpetuity; and State Street Corp., for which the museum's Fenway entrance is now named, among others.
Three gifts of $10 million or more were made anonymously.
The MFA completed the seven-year campaign with a late surge of donations, including a $10 million anonymous gift last week. Twenty-five members of the museum's board of trustees came through with $15 million over the last two months to enable the MFA to receive a $5 million matching grant from the Calderwood Charitable Foundation.
MFA staffers also gave $2.1 million, Jacoby said, with Rogers listed as a major benefactor, a category reserved for people who give between $500,000 and $1 million.
The museum received gifts of $1 million or more from Bank of America, Citizens Bank, Liberty Mutual, Merrill Lynch, and United Technologies Corp.
In all, the MFA received 25,000 contributions for the campaign, including 6,700 from first-time donors.
"It wasn't like four or five people got together in a room," said Stokely Towles, chairman of the board of trustees and cochair of the campaign. "It was something broadly supported."