(New York, September 13, 2001)—A landmark grant of $20 million has been awarded to The Metropolitan Museum of Art by The Annenberg Foundation for the acquisition of works of art in the areas of European paintings, drawings and prints, and European sculpture and decorative arts.
The grant – which constitutes one of the largest single donations of funds for acquisitions in the history of the Metropolitan Museum – will be made in two stages: $10 million for immediate use, and an additional $10 million to establish an endowment fund, the income from which will be used for acquisitions. The Annenberg Foundation also gave $5 million for general acquisitions in 1999.
James R. Houghton, Chairman of the Metropolitan Museum, said of the latest grant: "Walter and Lee Annenberg have been involved in this institution – as Trustees, as philanthropists, and as passionate lovers of art – for more than four decades. And once more, with this generous grant, they have demonstrated their deep commitment to the Metropolitan Museum on a breathtaking scale."
Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan, said: "We are profoundly grateful to the Annenbergs, and to The Annenberg Foundation, for the sweeping generosity and precise wisdom of this gift. Walter and Lee base their philanthropy on the understanding that great museum collections remain great by continuing to evolve and to grow. Their grant – a landmark in the history of this institution – will enhance the Metropolitan Museum at its very heart for generations to come."
Leonore Annenberg, who is President and Vice Chairman of The Annenberg Foundation, a Trustee Emerita of the Metropolitan Museum, and a member of the Museum's Acquisitions Committee, commented: "My husband and I have always cared deeply about art – our lives have been enriched tremendously by experiencing art and learning about it. And the Metropolitan Museum – for us, as for the countless millions who have and will pass through its doors – provides a vital breadth and strength in the art world. We have been proud to take part in the evolution of the Metropolitan over the past 40 years, and hope with this gift to provide new opportunities to augment its treasures, for the benefit of all those who care about art as we do."
The Annenbergs have a long history of involvement with the Metropolitan Museum. Both have been Benefactors since 1975. Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg was a Trustee and a member of the Museum's Acquisitions Committee from 1974 through 1981, and has been a Trustee Emeritus since 1981. Leonore Annenberg served as a Trustee from 1982 to 1995, when she became a Trustee Emerita.
Since the 1960s, Walter and Leonore Annenberg's generous donations to the Metropolitan have included gifts toward capital campaigns, operating expenses, and acquisitions of works of art, including a major gift of $15 million for acquisitions in 1989.
In 1991 Ambassador Annenberg announced his intention to bequeath the Annenberg Collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, watercolors, and drawings to the Metropolitan Museum, the largest single gift of art to the Museum in more than half a century. In making the announcement, he said: "I happen to believe in strength going to strength, and I believe that the Met is the proper repository for them." The Annenberg Collection – which includes 53 works by 18 of the greatest artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries, among them Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Picasso – is on loan to the Metropolitan from the Annenbergs for six months of each year. The collection is currently on view in The Annenberg Galleries within the Nineteenth-Century European Paintings and Sculpture Galleries, through early November. Beginning in 1992 and continuing currently, the Annenbergs annually have given to The Metropolitan Museum of Art 50% interest in certain paintings; the total of such gifts to date has been estimated at $290 million.
In addition, the Annenbergs and The Annenberg Foundation have made generous donations of funds for the purchase of works of art including two major works by Vincent van Gogh, Wheat Field with Cypresses and Shoes.
# # #
September 13, 2001