Archive for Monday, March 14, 2011

Simons family gift helps Spencer Museum of Art meet $1 million Mellon Foundation challenge grant

March 14, 2011


A capstone gift from the Dolph Simons Jr. family has helped Kansas University’s Spencer Museum of Art fulfill a $1 million challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The gift, along with those from nearly 80 other KU alumni and benefactors, allowed the museum to complete the challenge ahead of the grant’s September deadline.

Included among the gifts to the museum were $200,000 from the Anschutz Foundation of Denver; $100,000 from John T. Stewart III and his wife, Linda Bliss Stewart, of Lawrence and Wellington; and $100,000 from Lavon Brosseau, of Concordia.

Saralyn Reece Hardy, museum director, said it was an honor to be selected for one of the Mellon Foundation’s matching grant opportunities.

“This puts KU in the company of Yale, Duke, the Rhode Island School of Design, Harvard and the University of Chicago,” Hardy said.

The money will be used to increase involvement in interdisciplinary exhibits and educational programs throughout the university.

“I think that this Mellon Initiative establishes a collaborative vision,” Hardy said. “It’s a collaborative vision for the art museum and a collaborative vision for KU.”

Simons, editor of the Lawrence Journal-World and chairman of The World Company, said his family has a long appreciation of everything Helen and Kenneth Spencer did for the university. His parents, Dolph Simons Sr. and Marie Simons, worked closely with Helen Spencer to have the Spencer Museum of Art built at KU.

“The current Simons family members are pleased to continue this long interest by providing funds to help the Spencer meet the match for the Mellon Foundation,” Simons said. “As museum director, Saralyn Reece Hardy is doing excellent work, given her vision and enthusiasm in directing the museum. We’re pleased to be able to play a small role.”

In addition to the $1 million challenge grant, the foundation provided $200,000 to support the program while the funds were being raised.

A portion of the funds has already been used to recruit Celka Straughn, director of academic programs, who has begun to develop the initiative.

An example of the kinds of programming that the initiative will create was last fall’s Media Memes: Images, Technology and Making the News exhibit. Michael Williams, associate professor of journalism, curated the exhibit with assistance from Luke Jordan, lecturer in the School of the Arts, and Straughn.

That gallery examined questions about photography and meaning-making, particularly in 21st century journalism.


KU_cynic 7 years, 3 months ago

"Capstone gift" suggests it was a big one. Thanks to the Simons family for its generosity.

PugnaciousJayhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

The article identify's 400K given by big KU alums plus smaller donations of 80 other individuals. Given that the Simons provided 200K in operating capital plus the remainder needed to meet the 1M dollar goal suggests a total gift of somewhere in excess of half million, at a minimum.

lmb 7 years, 3 months ago

No where does it say that the Simons' provided $200,000 for operating costs. It says the Mellon Foundation provided a $1million challenge grant and $200k ops.

WilburM 7 years, 3 months ago

Thanks to all who contributed, from the first commitment to the last. This gift has already begun to pay off in spades, as the Spencer increases its impact on the campus. Easy to be snarky here, but even easier to appreciate the generosity of donors and the impact of having a great museum in our midst..

beatrice 7 years, 3 months ago

The Spencer is a great museum. Congratulations for meeting the challenge grant, and thanks to all who contributed.

Dan Thalmann 7 years, 3 months ago

Great gift from the Simons! But I don't know how this project could succeed without the help of the Kansas Arts Council. From what I've read lately, there are no arts without the Kansas Arts Council. Surely a privately-funded effort like this will never work.

lmb 7 years, 3 months ago

Considering there is no organization called the Kansas Arts Council, you're clearly deluded.

The Kansas Arts Commission, however, has been in the news quite a lot lately.

lmb 7 years, 3 months ago

Clearly the article does not identify the amount of the Simons family's gift because they want everyone to assume it was massive for the publicity. The SELF-publicity of publishing a half-cocked article in their own personal newspaper.

Seeker of truth is right--it could have been $20 if that's all that was needed for the museum to reach its goal.

I'm not saying gifts to the Spencer are unimportant. However, let the importance be determined by the community, not by the Simons' over-inflated sense of importance.

Kontum1972 7 years, 3 months ago

kids its geting close to april"ka-ching"..."ka-ching"

and with our new governor....he is slashing art funding....hmmmmmm..ponder ponder...

Commenting has been disabled for this item.