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U-M Museum of Art Receives $10 Million from the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation to Name New Wing

Maxine Frankel

Maxine Frankel

A $10 million gift from The Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, will provide major support for a new addition to the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the University announced today.

The new 53,000 square-foot space will be named The Maxine and Stuart Frankel and the Frankel Family Wing. The Frankel gift—the largest in the museum's history—brings the Museum of Art significantly closer to reaching its $35 million goal for the project.

“Thanks to Director James Steward’s visionary leadership, UMMA has entered the top ranks of university art museums in the country,” said Maxine Frankel. “As alumni and arts patrons, Stuart and I enthusiastically share his vision and commitment to the transformative educational mission of the museum. With this gift, we support the museum’s remarkable institutional growth and its increasing prominence as a leader in developing exhibitions and other projects that link scholarship with the community.”

Museum Director James Steward said, “Stuart and Maxine Frankel’s support for the museum is truly unprecedented in our 58-year history, and reflects their profound commitment to the visual arts, the University, and to education. Like me, the Frankels believe that the visual arts are part of our essential civic fabric, and play a more important role now than ever before. Expanding and improving the Museum of Art’s facility has become a truly critical need as we seek to be a vibrant gathering place, a true center for campus life, and indeed a gateway for the broader public to the University of Michigan’s historic central campus—all built on the importance of art to the human experience.”

Maxine and Stuart Frankel, who graduated from U-M (AB 1966 and BBA 1961, respectively), are internationally recognized art collectors and philanthropists. The couple’s renowned private collection consists of important works by seminal modern and contemporary artists, and their collection of contemporary ceramic works is among the most important in the world. The Frankels frequently lend pieces to museum exhibitions across the globe, including the recent retrospectives of work by contemporary masters Eva Hesse (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) and Lee Bontecou (Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago). Earlier this year, the U-M Museum of Art centenary exhibition of work by Barbara Hepworth presented eight important sculptures from the Frankel collection. Maxine Frankel serves on the boards of several non-profit and charitable organizations, including the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, established by minimalist artist Donald Judd; Independent Curators International; the board and executive committee of Children’s Hospital of Michigan; the national advisory boards for Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, New York and the U-M Museum of Art; the University of Michigan President’s Advisory Group; and chairs the board of governors for the Cranbrook Academy of Art and the Cranbrook Art Museum. Stuart Frankel is president of the Troy, Michigan-based Stuart Frankel Development Co., a real estate development firm. The entire Frankel family has long supported U-M.

The new wing will more than double the museum’s existing space and will add galleries, art storage and study areas, an auditorium, classrooms, and improved visitor amenities. The project is being designed by principal architect Brad Cloepfil and his firm Allied Works Architecture, headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Allied Works also designed the recently opened Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and was chosen to design the new home of the Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle in New York City. The work at U-M will also include a complete restoration and renovation of Alumni Memorial Hall, the museum’s home since 1946.

The University of Michigan Museum of Art holds one of the finest university art collections in the country, including extraordinary masterworks by such artists as Dürer, Guercino, Whistler, Monet, Hokusai, Picasso, and today’s avant-garde. The New York Times has called UMMA “in the forefront” among university art museums that are creating innovative, multidisciplinary exhibitions and publications that appeal far beyond campus, and Art News noted that it is “considered one of the finest university art museums in the United States.” University museums, supported by a breadth of campus-wide intellectual activity, are uniquely positioned to mount projects that offer stimulating interpretations and raise probing social questions.

The expansion and renovation will enable the Museum of Art to display substantially more of its 17,000-plus works of art. Art scholarship will be advanced with the creation of dedicated “object-study classrooms” where scholars will have the ability to study reserve collections. The project also makes it possible for the museum to accommodate the increased public interest and attendance generated by landmark exhibitions such as Women Who Ruled: Queens, Goddesses, Amazons 1500-1650, Auguste Rodin, and The Romanovs Collect: European Art from the Hermitage. Museum attendance has risen by 50 percent since 1997, from an average annual attendance of approximately 80,000 to more than 130,000 visitors in 2003.

In October 2003, the University announced two major gifts: $5 million from an anonymous donor and $1 million from Robert and Lillian Montalto Bohlen of Brighton, Michigan, toward the total cost of the project. With other major gifts to be announced soon, the museum is more than halfway to its fund-raising goal, and expects to finance the $35 million building project largely through private support. Construction will begin when fund-raising is complete.