Friday, May 18, 2007

Indianapolis Museum of Art Receives $10 Million Endowment Gift from Melvin and Bren Simon

The IMA is once again making news with a new endowment. This gift is the largest for an endowed directorship at an art museum, something that will benefit the IMA's future. This news once again give me hope for the local art scene. From the press release:

The Indianapolis Museum of Art today announced that it has received a $10 million gift from philanthropists and longtime IMA supporters Melvin and Bren Simon to endow the Museum’s director and CEO. The Simon’s gift will establish a permanent endowment fund and is the largest ever given to an art museum to underwrite the compensation of the Museum’s top executive. Proceeds from the fund beyond those required to underwrite the position will support acquisitions, exhibitions, programs and professional development. In recognition of their gift, the IMA will refer to its chief executive as the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO.

“A strong endowment is the bedrock that gives the Indianapolis Museum of Art the freedom to think and act in service of artistic innovation, in perpetuity,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the IMA. “Through this tremendous gift, the Simons have once again demonstrated their farsighted support for the arts, the city and the region. I am honored to serve as the Museum’s first incumbent in this endowed position.”

The $10 million will help to fuel the recruitment and retention of future leadership for the IMA––functions that are critical to the Museum’s long-term success. The donation is also a major step forward in the IMA’s strategic goal to endow several key departmental positions to keep the Museum at the leading edge in terms of its exhibitions, collections, educational programs and overall operations.

Months ago, I heard the IMA had bold goals of increasing the number of gifts and endowments and it seems they are on their way to accomplishing their goal. The IMA has received $25 million in endowment gifts and pledges since June 2006. Not bad for 11 months work.

The Simon’s gift will be added to the IMA’s current endowment of $367 million and marks the fifth significant endowment gift to the Museum in the past year, following $2.5 million from the Efroymson Fund for the contemporary art program; $11 million for the IMA’s future Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park; and $3.2 million in estate gifts. The IMA’s endowment—a vital resource dedicated to supporting the museum’s fiscal health and growth in perpetuity–is among the largest of the nation’s art museums.

“Mel and I are very pleased to help insure that the IMA can continue to attract the best talent in the art museum field,” stated Bren Simon. “We hope our gift will help shine a national spotlight on our city’s arts and cultural offerings just as much as our rich traditions in sports.”

The Simons have long supported the IMA. They have been members of the IMA’s annual giving club at the highest level since 1985, and Bren Simon is currently an IMA Trustee and a member of the Museum’s Collections Committee. In addition to this gift, the Family has supported multiple initiatives at the IMA, including the construction of the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park, which will open in 2009.

5 Responses to “Indianapolis Museum of Art Receives $10 Million Endowment Gift from Melvin and Bren Simon”

Kevin Freitas said...
May 19, 2007 at 11:49 PM


for those of us who have never visited the IMA, what is their collection like? Do they specialize in any one style or period of art? The endoment definitely seems like a blessing...

Scott said...
May 20, 2007 at 2:38 PM

Hi Kevin,

The IMA collections are branched out and varied. This quote from their web site sums up a good portion of their collection and some of its highlights:

"Among the highlights of our holdings are the Samuel Josefowitz Collection of Gauguin and the School of Pont-Aven; the Holliday Collection of Neo-Impressionism, featuring the work of Georges Seurat and his followers; the largest collection of works by J.M.W. Turner outside of Great Britain; a comprehensive Chinese collection of international renown; of the most outstanding collections of Japanese Edo-period paintings in the nation; and more than 2,000 objects in the African art collection. Other important collections include fashion arts, textiles and West Asian rugs."

From a visitors stand point I often found the collections a bit wanting, particularly in the contemporary wing. I have often described the collections as having come from a checklist of artists needed, but the examples obtained were often lesser works by those artists. This is not to say we do not have some wonderful pieces, on the contrary. Recent focus on the contemporary wing has been helpful in revitalizing the collection. All this in a new $70+ million dollar expansion. Though I do feel that more exhibition space should have been a priority over multiple gift shops and a massive restaurant, but the newly developing Art and Nature Park may help curb that feeling for me. After all, talks say it will be the largest art and nature park in the country when it is completed.

I think the IMA has the opportunity now, for perhaps the first time, to become a major arts destination point. I hope it can.

Anonymous said...
May 22, 2007 at 12:17 PM

Mr. Simon, Can I have some change?
Nanotech (Yes I'm back!)

Scott said...
May 22, 2007 at 12:26 PM

Welcome back Nanotech.

lirio said...
May 23, 2007 at 7:29 PM

It's a weird world we live in....I wish we could get the art classes back in the elementary schools. My son's has been cut down to half time now.....half a year art class, the other half PE. It's nice that the IMA is free now though.

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