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U-M Museum of Art receives three leadership gifts totaling $2.5 million for building expansion and renovation project

New Addition to UMMA

New addition viewed from the Diag

The University of Michigan Museum of Art is pleased to announce three new leadership gifts toward its expansion and renovation project: $1 million from Thomas and Polly Bredt of Portola Valley, California; $1 million from the Anthony Randazzo family of Grosse Pointe, Michigan; and $500,000 from Ernestine and Herbert Ruben of Princeton, New Jersey.

The Rubens’ gift will be recognized through the naming of the Ernestine Winston Ruben Study Center for Works on Paper. The Bredt and Randazzo gifts will be recognized through the naming of galleries in the expanded and renovated Museum.

“I am delighted to report that with these very generous gifts from beloved old and new friends of the Museum of Art, we are well past the halfway mark to the $35 million funding goal for the building project,” said James Steward, UMMA director.

The Museum launched its public fundraising campaign on May 14, 2004 in conjunction with the University’s institution-wide campaign called The Michigan Difference. The Museum expects to finance the $35 million building project largely through private support. Construction will begin when fund raising is complete.

Thomas and Polly Bredt met as undergraduates at U-M (1962 College of Engineering and 1963 College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, respectively). Tom Bredt holds a master’s in electrical engineering from New York University and a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford, where he also was on the electrical engineering faculty. He is managing director of Menlo Ventures, in Menlo Park, California, one of Silicon Valley’s most successful venture capital firms. Polly Bredt was a doctoral student in the speech and hearing sciences at Michigan and has worked as a speech pathologist. The Bredts are also major supporters of the San Jose Museum of Art. In addition to their generosity to the Museum of Art, the Bredts made a gift of $2 million in 2000 to endow the Bredt Family Professorship in the College of Engineering.

“Tom and I have taken great pleasure in the arts and we feel strongly about balancing our support of science with the arts. We both were so impressed with James’s ambitious vision for the Museum of Art and we look forward to sharing our sustained interest in the arts with others through this gift,” Polly Bredt said.

Speaking about his family’s gift to the Museum in support of its building project, Anthony Randazzo said, “My family and I are really pleased to be a part of the future Museum expansion. We made the commitment because we feel the Museum expansion is crucial and no one could head up the project better than James Steward.” Anthony Randazzo is a major southeast Michigan developer and builder. His son, Anthony, Jr., will be a freshman at U-M in the fall.

Ernestine and Herb Ruben are both alumni of U-M (BA 1953 and BBA 1952/LLD 1954, respectively). Ernestine Ruben, who serves on the Museum of Art’s National Advisory Board, is an internationally exhibited photographer. A major retrospective of her work opens this month at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. She grew up in Detroit and is the granddaughter of Albert Kahn, architect of some of the most significant buildings on the U-M campus, including Clements Library and Hill Auditorium. Herb Ruben, a retired senior vice-president at Merrill Lynch, shares his wife's abiding passion for encouraging students to push the limits of their creativity. In addition to the gift for the Ernestine Winston Ruben Study Center for Works on Paper, Ernestine Ruben’s archive (including exhibition prints, photographic negatives, and research materials) will come to UMMA through the Rubens’ estate plan, enabling scholars and students to study the creative development of an artist over an entire career.

“While at the University of Michigan, I was surrounded by the arts. I know now, more than ever, how essential art is to our culture and why it must be an active ingredient in our education and in our lives. Certain aspects of photography are in jeopardy today and on the brink of extinction. With this gift for a proper study center for works on paper at UMMA, we hope to encourage scholarship in prints, drawings, and photographs with the energy that is so vital,” said Ernestine Ruben.

The Museum’s expansion and renovation project 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 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, to more than 130,000 visitors in 2003.

The building 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, as well as a dramatic expansion of the Seattle Art Museum. The work at U-M will also include a complete restoration and renovation of Alumni Memorial Hall (1907), the Museum’s home since its foundation.

Recently, the Museum announced a $10 million gift—the largest in its history—from The Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The Frankels’ gift supports the Museum’s 53,000 square-foot new wing, which will be named The Maxine and Stuart Frankel and the Frankel Family Wing.