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Toledo Museum of Art receives major gift from local philanthropic couple

Local philanthropists Susan and Tom Palmer enjoying an afternoon in the Classic Court of the Toledo Museum of Art.

Susan and Thomas (“Tom”) Palmer will contribute $1.5 million over the next four years to elevate and diversify exhibition offerings at the Toledo Museum of Art. 

“The Palmers’ inspiring philanthropic investment will energize our exhibitions program and advance our curatorial strategy,” said Adam Levine, the Museum’s Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey president, director and CEO. “Through their generous gift, Susan and Tom will enable us to broaden the narrative of art history in exciting ways.” 

The couple’s latest gift supports TMA’s new strategic plan, which seeks to blend a commitment to quality and a culture of belonging. Among the ways the Museum seeks to operationalize this vision is through its program to expand the ambition and diversity of the exhibitions program. 

Longtime residents of Toledo, the Palmers chose to support exhibitions because they are inspired to elevate curatorial content at TMA and support the Museum’s efforts to generate a sense of belonging through dynamic exhibitions. “We are grateful for the opportunity to support the strategic mission of the Museum in this way,” they stated. “Exhibitions represent a vital means for the Museum to explore beyond its collection new dimensions of visual arts. Our hope is that this gift allows TMA to create exhibitions that enliven wonder, curiosity and engagement for those in our community and beyond, contributing to the Museum’s outreach efforts and increasing the Museum’s visibility.” 

Susan Palmer, a Museum Trustee, has dedicated countless hours in service to TMA. She became a docent in 1975 and member of the Museum’s auxiliary support group, the Aides (now called the Ambassadors), in 1987. Susan served both as Docent President (from 1986-1987) and as Ambassador President (from 1993-1994) before serving the Museum as an employee from 1996 to 2015, retiring as Director of Development. In 2017, Susan was elected to the TMA Board of Trustees, beginning a five-year term. She currently serves as Chair of the Development committee and is a member of the Education and Leadership and Governance committees. Susan is also a former trustee of the University of Toledo, her alma mater, and current trustee of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation. 

Tom Palmer has practiced law for more than 45 years with Marshall & Melhorn, LLC, where he is a former managing partner and current senior member. Like Susan, Tom is a civic leader, having served in leadership positions on the boards of the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority, Regional Growth Partnership, Local Initiatives Services Corporation (LISC), Toledo Cultural Arts Center/ Historic Valentine Theatre, University of Toledo Medical College Advisory Council and Ohio Wesleyan University. Tom also holds leadership positions on the boards of several privately held and public companies.