Walters receives historic donation

$750,000 gift aids in Mellon grant goal

November 22, 2003|By Adrienne Saunders | Adrienne Saunders,SUN STAFF

In the largest private gift to its operating endowment in its history, the Walters Art Museum received a $750,000 donation from Robert and Nancy Hall of Baltimore, museum administrators recently announced. The gift completes a challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The $1.75 million Mellon grant was awarded in December 2001 on the condition that an additional $750,000 would be raised within three years.

About 15 months before the deadline, Hall, an investment advisor, and his wife, a volunteer docent and member of the museum's board of trustees, contributed the entire amount necessary to meet the grant's requirements.

"The Halls' gift is a magnificent and huge brick in the edifice of our scholarly future," said Gary Vikan, museum director. The donation represents "informed generosity, because they know why they care about us through their 20 years of work with the museum," he added.

The Mellon Foundation has awarded several grants to the museum, which have been used to fund fellowships, curatorial positions and that of a conservation scientist, said Vikan. Now, because of the Halls' gift, the museum has the funds for two permanent positions for assistant curators -- in medieval and ancient art, which brings the curatorial staff to 16.

(The two new Robert and Nancy Hall assistant curators -- C. Griffith Mann, a medieval art specialist, and Sabine Albersmeier, a Greek and Roman art specialist -- began work in July of last year and in March, respectively).

The Mellon Foundation should receive the highest praise for its contributions, said Robert Hall. "The real hero here is the Mellon Foundation because they've taken the time and made the resources available [to programs at the Walters]. We just facilitated it a little bit," he said.

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