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UMMA Receives $1.5 Million Challenge Grant and $1 Million Gift


Marvin H and Mary M. Davidson

The Kresge Foundation of Troy, Mich.—a national leader in building institutional capacity in nonprofit organizations—has awarded the University of Michigan Museum of Art a challenge grant of $1.5 million toward the renovation and expansion of its current home, Alumni Memorial Hall.

In anticipation of the Kresge challenge grant award, the museum received $1 million toward the project from Marvin H and Mary M. Davidson.  The Davidsons are supporters of the arts both at Michigan and in New York.  Mr. Davidson is a U-M alumnus and New York-based investment strategist.

The Kresge Foundation awards these prestigious and highly competitive grants on a challenge basis to assist in completing ambitious capital campaigns, and pays them only after all other campaign funds have been pledged. One important goal of the Kresge challenge grant is to help institutions broaden their traditional base of support by encouraging wider community involvement in securing the institution's future vitality.

The museum's expansion and renovation will cost $35.4 million. As of May, the museum had raised more than 70 percent of these funds. The Kresge challenge requires UMMA to raise some $8.5 million in new gifts and grants to reach the $35.4 million goal by the intended completion date of June 1, 2006, before the $1.5 million Kresge grant can be paid. Construction will begin when fundraising is complete.

President Mary Sue Coleman expressed her appreciation for the challenge grant, and noted that it will advance the University's $2.5 billion fundraising campaign, The Michigan Difference. "We are delighted to receive a challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation, which sets the gold standard in fundraising," Coleman said. "The Kresge Foundation not only provides financial assistance, it looks to the institution to broaden and deepen its base of support so that it emerges from a campaign with added financial strength and volunteer engagement."

"The Kresge challenge grant is immensely inspiring and motivating, and Marvin Davidson's very generous gift was a strategic vote of confidence that powerfully bolstered our application to Kresge," said UMMA Director James Steward. "Thanks to the Kresge Foundation and to Marvin, we now enter the homestretch of our campaign and can begin to envision the excitement of groundbreaking, the start of construction, the opening of luminous new galleries, and the creation of a vibrant new center for the visual arts in Ann Arbor. But we must now redouble our efforts to be worthy of this challenge."

"It was gratifying to make a gift to the museum and at the same time help in fulfilling the Kresge Foundation's challenge and obtaining a grant," Davidson said. "I am pleased to see that UMMA is taking on more ambitious and stimulating exhibitions, and its partnerships with world-class institutions is exciting and a wonderful way to engage students from across the University. I know the museum will move forward vigorously to complete its campaign."

Davidson, who was born in Detroit and graduated from Cranbrook, received his B.A. in English from U-M in 1957 and his M.B.A. from Harvard University in 1959. He was a managing partner of Bear, Stearns, & Company for 20 years, after which he served as president of M.H. Davidson & Company, Inc., an investment firm in New York. In addition to UMMA, Davidson has been a generous benefactor to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

Davidson gave $1 million in 1996 during the University's previous campaign to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts to establish the Sally Michelson Davidson Professorship of Chinese Arts and Cultures to honor his late wife, Sally Michelson Davidson. 

John E. Marshall III, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation, said, "In this cycle of grant-making, our trustees were pleased to support a range of organizations reflecting almost the entire breadth of the nonprofit sector. This diverse group is responding to the new challenges presented by their communities or sustaining activities that have demonstrated their effectiveness."

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.

The $35.4 million UMMA project includes a 53,000-square-foot addition with new galleries; state-of-the-art storage facilities; educational spaces such as an auditorium, classrooms, and "object study" classrooms; an expanded art conservation lab; improved visitor amenities; and substantial restoration and renovation to its current facility. Collectively, these improvements will allow the museum to fulfill its educational mission in a facility equal to its expanding programmatic needs and expectations.

UMMA is considered one of the finest university art museums in the country with collections in excess of 17,000 works of art and a diverse and ambitious schedule of special exhibitions and programs. Its extraordinary Western, Asian and African holdings include masterworks by such artists as Dürer, Guercino, Whistler, Monet, Picasso and today's avant-garde.