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U-M Museum of Art Receives More Than $6.5 million in New Leadership Gifts

With growing momentum to close out its building campaign, the University of Michigan Museum of Art has received more than $6.5 million in new gifts towards the museum’s $41.9 million facility expansion and restoration project in December 2005 and January 2006.

Among the new leadership gifts for the building are $4 million from A. Alfred Taubman, U-M alumnus and founder of Taubman Centers, Inc., a pioneer in mall and retail design, to be recognized in the naming of the suite of temporary exhibition spaces; $1 million from Chicago attorney and U-M alumnus Irving Stenn, Jr. to be recognized in the naming of the new addition’s Project Gallery for contemporary art; $500,000 from SeAH Steel Corp. Chairman and UM alumnus Woon-Hyung Lee that matches a $500,000 pledge from the Korea Foundation to create a new gallery of Korean art; and $250,000 from an anonymous donor to name the future curatorial research center and library in honor of Marvin and Phyllis Dolinko of Highland Park, Illinois.

In addition, more than 100 new gifts and pledges totaling more than $250,000 came from the museum’s diverse community of supporters during this two-month period.

As of January 2006, the museum had raised more than 92 percent of the total project cost.  A $1.5 million challenge grant pledged by the Kresge Foundation of Troy, Michigan requires UMMA to raise the remaining amount in new gifts and grants by the campaign’s targeted completion date of June 1, 2006 in order to receive the money. Construction will begin when fund-raising is complete. The Museum of Art’s capital campaign is part of U-M’s $2.5 billion campaign, The Michigan Difference.

“With these latest gifts to our Museum of Art, donors are helping to broaden the University’s arts offerings and the many ways we enlighten and engage the campus and all of southeastern Michigan.  The dynamic new space of the UMMA will further our commitment to showcasing exciting, unique works for the community,” said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman.

“Our announcement of these four leadership gifts caps an incredible two months in the museum’s campaign and I am confident this momentum will carry us the rest of the way,” said James Steward, UMMA director. “The A. Alfred Taubman Galleries, the Irving Stenn, Jr, Family Project Gallery, the Woon-Hyung Lee and Korea Foundation Gallery of Korean Art, and the Marvin and Phyllis Dolinko Curatorial Research Center ensure UMMA’s place at the forefront of university art museums. Each of these spaces is essential to our vision of a welcoming, dynamic, and innovative museum for the future that brings together cutting edge scholarship, fresh curatorial thinking, and broad accessibility.”

A. Alfred Taubman received an honorary doctorate of law degree from U-M in 1991.  He has been a prominent benefactor to U-M, ensuring excellence in the field of medicine with leadership gifts for the Taubman Health Care Center and the Taubman Medical Library, as well as to the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and student support. Another recent gift to the Program for Understanding Neurological Disease supports the work of PFUND Director Dr. Eva Feldman. The Taubman Galleries will host most of the museum’s future temporary exhibitions.

"The University of Michigan Art Museum is an extraordinary cultural resource for students, faculty and the greater arts community. Its collection and architecture were certainly inspirational to me during my years on campus,” Taubman said. “I am delighted to be able to provide support for the Museum's exciting restoration and expansion plans.  My hope is that this revitalized jewel will continue to inspire students, scholars, artists and art lovers for generations to come."

Irving Stenn, a noted collector, has made possible the Irving Stenn, Jr, Family Project Gallery, which will face State Street and be one of the most visible spaces in the new wing. It will be dedicated to experimental and installation projects by contemporary artists, as well as to experimental and revisionist exhibitions of earlier work.

Stenn received his Bachelor of Arts and law degrees from Michigan in 1952 and 1955, respectively. “I feel such a deep connection to the University of Michigan,” Stenn said. “Through this gift I want to ensure that the Museum of Art is supported in its critical mission to educate young people in the visual arts.”

Characterizing his collection as consisting mostly of established artists from the 1950s and 60s, Stenn said of his choice to support UMMA’s new Project Gallery, “I wanted to do something different. I am always challenged by young artists and supporting their work is important, especially at a university art museum.” Last summer, Stenn generously lent several outstanding works—including Roy Lichtenstein’s “Thunderbolt” (1968), “Dishes” (1966), and “Pistol” (1964)—from his personal collection to UMMA’s well-received reappraisal of pop art.

Based in Seoul, Woon-Hyung Lee graduated from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business  (MBA, 1974). SeAH Steel is a leader in the special steel and steel pipe industry and the burgeoning economic development of South Korea. It was the first Korean exporter of steel pipes to the United States. This gift represents Lee’s first major philanthropic gift to a U.S. institution. He also supports many cultural organizations in Korea.

The gift of $500,000 from the Korea Foundation, the cultural wing of the South Korean government, was predicated on the need for a matching gift. It is by far the largest such gift the foundation has ever made to a university museum and recognized the U-M’s unique ability to integrate the study of Korean art and culture through UMMA’s partnership with the Korean Studies Program.

“I am very pleased to be able to leverage the Korea Foundation’s wonderful $500,000 pledge in order to make the Korea gallery a reality for UMMA’s glorious new facility,” Lee said.. “Learning of the museum’s outstanding reputation and ambitious future plans from Dr. Steward during his visit to Seoul was an inspiration. I hope this gift will promote the study of Korean art and history at Michigan and will serve as a legacy for my family’s strong ties to the University.”

Key to the development of plans for a new Korean gallery was UMMA’s acquisition in 2004 of the outstanding Hasenkamp-Nam collection of Korean art, an especially dynamic field in which international collecting interest has soared in recent years. This collection was secured in the hope of elevating UMMA’s Korean collection to the same stature as its renowned holdings in Chinese and Japanese art.

The Marvin and Phyllis Dolinko Curatorial Research Center, to be sited on the lower level of the museum’s addition, will act as a focal point for the curatorial and education departments of the Museum and for their research functions. It will contain a core reference library and arts periodicals for the use of museum staff, docents, researchers and students, supplementing the world-class fine arts research library available in adjacent Tappan Hall. The center will also serve as a gathering space for staff and visiting scholars carrying out research on UMMA’s collections and preparing future exhibitions.

Dolinko, a retired printing salesman, and his wife, an attorney for the U.S. Labor Department in Chicago, shared their passionate interest in modern and contemporary art with their three daughters, now in their 40s, when they were growing up. To help them carry on the tradition with their six grandchildren, he developed a variety of strategies designed to make museums more engaging for children. In 1999, he began presenting seminars and workshops at senior centers and libraries throughout Chicago’s North Shore suburbs, teaching others how to enjoy art with their grandchildren.

The Kresge Foundation is an independent, private foundation created by the personal gifts of Sebastian S. Kresge. It is not affiliated with any corporation or organization.

UMMA’s landmark expansion and restoration project designed by principal architect Brad Cloepfil and his firm Allied Works Architecture of Portland, Oregon, includes a 53,000 square-foot addition with new galleries; state-of-the-art storage facilities; educational spaces including an auditorium, classrooms, and “object study” classrooms; an expanded art conservation lab; improved visitor amenities; and substantial restoration of its current facility. In 2004, the UMMA project won one of four coveted design awards from the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It is hoped that construction can begin later in 2006.

Founded in 1946, UMMA is considered one of the finest university art museums in the country. Its collections of nearly 18,000 works of art in the Western, Asian, and African traditions include works by most of the great masters and represent the key schools and movements in these cultures. Its collections of works by Whistler and Picasso, and of Chinese painting, Japanese prints, Korean ceramics, and Congolese sculpture are among the finest in North America.