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Extraordinary alumni gift to fund museum expansion

May 6, 2005

UW–Madison and Elvehjem Museum of Art today announced a $20 million gift from alumni Simona and Jerome A. Chazen to fund a major expansion of the museum.

To commemorate the gift, the university said that effective immediately, the name of the museum will become the Chazen Museum of Art. The Elvehjem name, however, will live on: the present facility will retain its dedication and will be called the Conrad A. Elvehjem Building.

This donation is being given as part of the University of Wisconsin Foundation’s “Create the Future: the Wisconsin Campaign.” It represents more than half of the estimated $35 million of gift monies needed for the expansion project, to be a new 60,000-square-foot building across Murray Street east of the existing museum site. Plans call for a dramatic overhead walkway connecting the two buildings.

“We are thrilled with the gift,” says Russell Panczenko, director of the museum. “The project will provide an additional 20,000 square feet of gallery space, doubling what we have now, for our growing collection and temporary exhibitions, as well as a new auditorium and object-study rooms to support the educational component of our mission.”

Planned for completion in 2009, the expansion is part of UW–Madison Chancellor John D. Wiley‘s larger vision for a vibrant district for the visual and performing arts surrounding the museum. The revitalized area is seen as a grouping of new buildings joined by plazas with seating areas, plantings, and outdoor sculpture. It will form a northern anchor for the planned East Campus Mall project, envisioned as a beautiful pedestrian and bicycle corridor along the east edge of campus.

Says Wiley, “A first-rate art museum is a centerpiece of the plan. The gift creates an extraordinary amount of momentum to help the dream become a reality.”

The museum chose world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli to complete preliminary “massing” plans for the expansion project. Pelli, an AIA Gold Medal award winner and dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University, says, “The eventual solution has an extraordinary opportunity to reflect not only modern sensibilities in architecture but also the latest thinking on installations and museum design.”

The architect who will actually design the addition will not be selected until all necessary gift funds are committed.

About donors Simona and Jerome A. Chazen

New York City natives Simona and Jerome A. Chazen are well-known philanthropists and art collectors and supporters of numerous organizations in the arts, education, and the community.

Jerome A. Chazen graduated from UW–Madison with a bachelor’s degree in economics and received an MBA from Columbia University Graduate School of Business. After an initial career on Wall Street, Chazen became one of four founders of Liz Claiborne Inc. He also is founder and chairman of Chazen Capital Partners, a private equity firm in New York City. Founder and benefactor of the Jerome A. Chazen Institute for International Business at Columbia Business School, he is involved in numerous other prominent organizations, including the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, which he chaired for many years. He is vice chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Fashion Institute of Technology and a managing director of the Metropolitan Opera Association.

Simona Chazen attended UW–Madison and received a master’s degree in clinical social work from the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service. She is a practicing clinical social worker specializing in family issues of divorce and abuse. She is co-chair of the Collections Committee and board member of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City; she is a board member and supervisor of Volunteer Counseling Services of Rockland County; she is a founding member of the Rockland County Family Shelter, a founding member of the Law Guardian Committee of the New York State Appellate Division, and a former board member of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. Simona Chazen serves on the council of the Chazen Museum of Art and is a past board member of the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass and the Creative Glass Center of America.

About the Chazen Museum of Art

The Chazen Museum of Art (formerly Elvehjem Museum of Art) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is one of the nation’s leading university art museums. Founded in 1970, its mission is to provide access to original works of art for faculty and students and community members and to present related educational programs in support of the teaching, research, and public service missions of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The Chazen features eleven galleries for the presentation of the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, the Mayer Print Center, and the Museum Shop, as well as lecture halls, auditoria, and the Kohler Art Library.

The more than 17,500 works in the museum’s permanent collection explore cultures and art move_ments from ancient Egypt to the present. The collection focuses on western European and American painting, sculpture, and graphics with important examples by Giorgio Vasari, Bernardo Strozzi, Jean-Baptiste Corot, Eug�ne Boudin, Alexander Archipenko, Naum Gabo, David Smith, Hans Hofmann, Louise Nevelson, and Helen Frankenthaler.

Specialized collections include in-depth holdings of Japanese woodblock prints, Chinese export porcelains, European medals, Soviet socialist-realist paintings, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British watercolors, drawings of Antoine Pevsner, Lalique glass, South and Southeast Asian sculpture, and Indian miniature paintings.

The museum organizes and presents a year-round schedule of temporary exhibitions celebrating national and international art and artists. Major exhibitions include Frank Lloyd Wright and Madison, John Steuart Curry: Inventing the Middle West, Wildeworld: The Art of John Wilde, The Art of Judy Pfaff, and Xu Bing: The Glassy Surface of a Lake.

The museum has exceptional teaching collections of ceramics, medals, coins, silver, furniture, and glass, used by university professors, area schools, and the museum’s education department. Educational offerings include gallery tours, lectures and symposia, film and video presentations, and cooperative programming with local communities and arts organizations.

Tags: arts, learning