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Historic Campaign for Art Grows and Complements UMMA’s Collections


Democratic Republic of the Congo, Luba People, 1875–1900
Gift of Robert and Lillian Montalto Bohlen, 2008/2.293

By any measure UMMA’s recent campaign, The Museum Reimagined, was an unprecedented success. With over $61 million raised by the end of 2008—the bulk of which supported the $41.9 building project with additional monies going toward building-related costs, the Museum’s endowment, and program costs—this historic achievement was the result of visionary UM alumni across the country and around the world and those committed to the arts as an integral part of our ecology here in Southeastern Michigan.

One significant component of the campaign not counted in that figure was the corresponding yet relatively quiet Campaign for Art—an initiative led over the last 18 months by UMMA Director James Steward and volunteer campaign chair Robert Bohlen, whose goal was to enhance the Museum’s collections on the occasion of the expansion and restoration of the building. With purpose-built new galleries to showcase more objects from UMMA’s singular collections, many leading collectors stepped up to offer the Museum objects of distinction that both complemented particular strengths and filled critical gaps in the collections.

“From the beginning our goal with the Campaign for Art was to deepen and grow the collections and in the process motivate others down the road to consider gifting works of art to the Museum,” said UMMA Director James Steward. “With new open storage galleries and object-study classrooms, we can now exhibit, study, and otherwise animate the collections in ways never before possible.”

Among the distinguished gifts to the Museum’s Campaign for Art, many of which are on view: a magisterial Urhobo maternity figure and a Luba stool from Robert and Lillian Montalto Bohlen; two rare complete first-edition volumes of incisive and historic prints by the canonical Spanish master Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes from the Delbanco family; an exquisite lacquered inlaid Korean box and two stunning Chinese objects from Edward and Linda Dresner Levy; a collection of 45 important 20th-century paintings, drawings, and prints by some of the most esteemed American artists of the time, including Jim Dine, Adolph Gottlieb, Grace Hartigan, Jasper Johns, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, and Susan Rothenberg from Gertrude Kasle; a major collection of more than 80 pieces of traditional Chinese folk art in various media from Ellen Johnston Laing; an exceptional collection of 40 Austrian and German works on paper, including drawings by artists Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele from Ernst Pulgram and Frances McSparran; and a set of 80 works by celebrated American artist George Bellows and six large-scale prints by Richard Diebenkorn from longtime UMMA supporter Herbert Sloan.

All told the Campaign for Art accounts for over $37 million worth of extraordinary objects gifted or pledged to the Museum, bringing the campaign grand total to a staggering $98 million.

Stephanie Rieke
External Relations Manager and Senior Writer