Toledo Museum of Art completes first phase of Polishing the Gem fundraising campaign

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The Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) has completed the first phase of a campaign to build its endowment and remain a vital leader in art education. The first phase of the Polishing the Gem endowment campaign raised $43 million between 2014 and 2017 from generous individuals, foundations and organizations. The fundraising campaign is a key component of TMA’s 2020 Vision strategic plan.

“We honor and deeply thank all of the generous supporters who have advanced the museum to complete this portion of the Polishing the Gem campaign,” said TMA Director, President and CEO Brian Kennedy. “Endowment replenishment and growth, since the downturn in 2008-09, is critically important to the future stability and excellence of the Museum. It allows TMA to maintain and enhance its art and educational offerings to current and future generations.”

Founded in 1901, the Toledo Museum of Art is a private, independent art institution, committed to providing free general admission for all. The endowment- and donor-funded museum has never sought tax levy funds to support it.

Based on metropolitan statistical area data from the 2010 U.S. census, the Toledo Museum of Art is the second most visited museum in the country per capita of metropolitan population, after the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., one of the other free-admission museums in the country.

“Fifty years ago, the Toledo Museum of Art established its development department, one of the first such art museum departments devoted to fundraising in the country,” said Todd Ahrens, TMA Director of Development. “It is especially fitting that we commemorate that significant legacy of philanthropy in Toledo at the same time we reach the end of this first phase of the Museum’s endowment campaign. Our community is ensuring this museum’s viability and accessibility in the future.”

After TMA opened its doors on its current site at Monroe Street in Toledo in 1912, its visionary founders and benefactors, Edward Drummond Libbey and Florence Scott Libbey, established an endowment that has allowed the museum to offer free admission for all to its internationally renowned collections and programs.

The Polishing the Gem campaign is spearheaded by the TMA’s Board of Directors, Museum Director Brian Kennedy and Director of Development Todd Ahrens and his development team. The campaign has been led by Brian Kennedy, with Deke Welles, campaign chair; Betsy Brady and Jim Hoffman, campaign committee chairs; Cynthia Thompson, board chair; and Georgia Welles and Pat and Robin Stranahan, honorary co-chairs. The late Bill and Molly Boeschenstein also served as honorary chairs.

“The Libbey’s century-plus endowment legacy must be nurtured so that TMA can continue to serve as a leading, thriving and welcoming arts and learning center throughout the 21st century,” said Deke Welles. “We are driven by a guiding principle that those who can give generously, do so in order that everyone can experience the gem that is the Toledo Museum of Art.”

On November 11, 2017, at a special Appreciation Gala marking the end of the first phase of the endowment campaign, Board Chair Cynthia Thompson announced that Brian Kennedy, the Museum’s ninth director, who has held that position since 2010, will be the first to be named the Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey Director, in honor of the Museum’s founders. The endowed directorship was generously established with funds received from recent unrestricted bequests to TMA and a gift from Libbey Inc.

“It’s so wonderful and appropriate that the museum the Libbeys named not for themselves but for the city they loved, now has a director that bears their name, recognizing their vast impact on the arts and education,” said Board Chair Cynthia Thompson.

Over the years, TMA has contributed meaningfully to Toledo’s downtown revitalization and neighborhood development, most prominently through the 2006 inauguration of the 76,000-square-foot Glass Pavilion across Monroe Street from the main museum and the recent acquisition and stewardship of the historic Museum Place residences in Toledo’s historic Old West End, adjacent to the museum.

The next phase of the Polishing the Gem campaign will engage donors interested in propelling TMA’s 2020 Vision goals with gifts, including endowed funds. Among the strategic goals of the Museum’s 2020 Vision plan are to continue to develop the art collections; enhance the visitor experience across all platforms and interaction points, both onsite and online; renovate galleries to display the Museum’s distinguished collections and acquisitions; expand educational programs and complementary events to encourage the participation of new and diverse visitors; bring national awareness to the Center for Visual Literacy; be recognized nationally and internationally as an innovator in the museum education field; provide educational experiences for area students and teachers; integrate visual and sensory design principles into Museum exhibitions and events; transform the 37-acre Museum campus into a parkland providing participatory experience for visitors; and partner with businesses and organizations to provide consultancy expertise and produce new revenue streams for the Museum.

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