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Boston Patrons Shell Out: Two New Endowed Directorships

As I’ve said before, two’s company — so once again I’ll mention something because there’ve been two instances in a very short time.

b9ghvr.jpgOn Tuesday came the news from the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston that, for the first time in its history, both the Director and Chief Curator positions were being endowed. Jill Medvedow will now  be known as the Ellen Matilda Poss Director and Karen Molesworth will be the Barbara Lee Chief Curator.

Today, the nearby Peabody Essex Museum announced that its director had also been endowed. Dan Monroe will be the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO of PEM, thanks to an eight-figure gift from “the Most Important Collectors You’ve Never Heard Of” — a total overstatement of a headline, which I did not write! They are pictured in their home above right.

Since that article, in any case, the van Otterloos’ collection has been on tour — I saw it again recently in Houston — and the couple is far from unknown.

Their gift is part of the PEM’s $650 million capital campaign, which went public in November. So far, the museum has raised $570 million, $20 million more than announced at the time. All from the van Otterloos? We don’t know. But you can read more here.

At ICA, meanwhile, the gifts are part of a $50 million campaign, more than half of which has been committed — including 10 seven-figure gifts, according to its press office. This will certainly help Boston continue the development of a vibrant contemporary art scene.

Time was, Boston was dogged by a reputation for stingy donors. But these gifts, plus the many given to the Museum of Fine Arts there, as well as the Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Harvard Art Museums — all in the course of a decade — should change that.

Don’t good things come in threes? I’m expecting another big gift announcement any day now.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of PEM


  1. In your blog of September 8, 2009, you made a statement about the van Otterloo’s collection of Dutch Masters that caught my eye:
    “Now they own what many believe is the best collection of them in private hands — excepting the Queen of England and the Prince of Lichtenstein, if you call their treasures private.”
    There are indeed similarities between America’s private funding system and a form of neo-feudalism.
    I saw an interview where Rose-Marie van Otterloo said she believes people should live with art. Her daughter, Sander van Otterloo, spoke about the problems this causes with her mothers rare, antique furniture collection.
    “I have a 4 1/2-year-old wild child and an 18-month-old, and they just crawl all over the 17th-century furniture or put a cup of milk without a coaster on a table. I always look at my parents to see if they get shocked or upset about it, but they really believe you live with the art. They really have this feeling that you can’t overly stress about having art in your house and living with it.’’

    • I am an art dealer and collector. I have 3 children, one girl and 2 boys, long since adults. There was always art at home and none of the children ever broke a piece. In fact when my youngest was 10 he started to collect himself, Native American Art and he would not allow his friends to play ball in his room any more!

      Truth be told, the only child in my family who ever broke an art object was me! When i was a little and lost something behind a movable book case, i tried to move the book case and a ceramic piece crashed to the floor. I never did it again but i don’t remember my parents even getting angry.

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