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news release Akron Art Museum Announces $25 million Centennial Campaign with Bold and Audacious Goals for the Future

For Release: May 14, 2019

Akron, Ohio – The Akron Art Museum announced its $25 million fundraising campaign celebrating its upcoming centennial anniversary in 2022, providing early-stage plans that will shape the museum’s next 100 years.

John S. Knight Director and CEO Mark Masuoka stated, “Celebrating our history and investing in what makes this museum special sets the stage for all future endeavors, including welcoming a more diverse audience, breaking the barriers to accessibility and building upon our legacy of artistic excellence.”

The two-phased campaign featured a silent phase focused on the completion of the Bud and Susie Rogers Garden, which opened in July 2016. Additional gifts were secured during this phase to stabilize the financial health of the organization, creating a more robust endowment and operating fund from which the museum has seen tremendous growth over the last three years.

“The enduring support of this community for the Akron Art Museum has never been more important than it is today. Maintaining and achieving excellence while being ever more relevant benefits the Akron community and will continue to be our most pressing priority as we look forward to our centennial and beyond,” stated honorary campaign chair Dr. W. Gerald Austen.

Significant investments, including the $8 million lead gift from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, spearheaded the recent transformation of the museum, empowering the institution to deepen its commitment to building community through the best contemporary art and with an innovative approach to utilizing technology to expand the visitor experience. Long-time supporter of the museum and Knight Foundation Board member William Considine said, “The Akron Art Museum demonstrates how arts can make our city a better place. I am excited to see what they do next.”

The public phase of the campaign will feature three key components leading up to and continuing beyond the museum’s centennial anniversary in 2022. The first component will be a capital campaign to open a Center for Creative Learning, a permanent home for the museum’s education and public programs. The new space will provide the opportunity to grow and develop further collaborations with artist community partners and expanding its exploration of digital technology to enhance the visitor experience. The center will expand the ability for museum visitors to tap into their imagination and experience the creative process first-hand in a purpose-built space on the first floor of the museum’s historic 1899 building.

The second concentration establishes a fund to support the planning and execution of education and public programs that are relevant to our community. It will also support the development of increasing diversity and accessibility through transformative interactions powered by meaningful art experiences. Regarding museum education programs Thomas Merryweather, honorary director of the museum, said “Marilyn and I remember bringing our children to the museum for classes and to see the exhibitions. Our daughter Melissa suggests it’s what sparked her desire to become an artist and live abroad. Building an appreciation for art changes your perspective on everything.”

Lastly, the museum will continue to grow its endowment during the campaign. Through right-sizing, the museum has successfully balanced a growing operating budget to better position its resources to provide for the continued presentation of modern and contemporary art, while focusing more of its attention on delivering art experiences throughout our community. The larger endowment, when coupled with growing general fundraising, will ensure that the museum can maintain its high standards of artistic excellence.

“Having invested over $70 million in downtown Akron over the last thirteen years—we are excited to see downtown development in motion and look forward to being an active partner in Akron’s cultural, civic and economic development,” said Bruce Rowland, President of the Museum’s Board of Directors.

The museum recently raised $2.5 million in gifts from Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell, Dana Pulk Dickinson and Thomas Merryweather, joining lead gifts from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Rick and Alita Rogers Family Foundation and The J.M. Smucker Company. To date, the museum has raised $17 million against its publicly announced $25 million goal. Additional gifts have been received from Myrna Berzon, Sandra L. and Dennis B. Haslinger Family Foundation, the Lehner Family Foundation, Herb and Dianne Newman, Rory and Dedee O’Neil and the State of Ohio.

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