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Art Center seeks further funding


The Des Moines Art Center is beginning a four-year campaign, called the 21st Century Initiative, to increase its endowment to pay for new exhibitions, attract more visitors, conduct education programs and help fund upkeep and maintenance.

Donations are essential to the Art Center, as the museum does not charge an admission fee.

So far, local corporations, individuals and Art Center trustees have pledged about $17 million. The Gardner and Florence Call Cowles Foundation pledged a $3 million matching challenge grant, and the Kruidenier Charitable Foundation pledged a $2 million matching challenge grant to raise $10 million from the board of trustees and the board of honorary trustees. That challenge was met.

“The inspiration for the board’s generous contributions was the collective commitment to sustain and forward our ambitions to maintain a world-class cultural institution, and to secure its financial base for the next generation,” said Kirk Blunck, board president and co-chair of the campaign.

Wells Fargo & Co. gave $1.5 million. Principal Financial Group Foundation Inc. pledged $500,000 for art studio renovation, and Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture pledged $250,000.

“The 21st Century Initiative will help us weather the fluctuations of the markets, expand core services, and extend our reach to new audiences,” said Art Center Director Susan Lubowsky Talbott in a release.

The Des Moines Art Center has been assisted by generous individuals, as well. Madelyn M. Levitt has pledged $2 million through the Madelyn M. Levitt Foundation, and Richard and Jeanne Levitt have pledged $2 million through the Levitt Foundation. John and Mary Pappajohn pledged $1 million, as have Myron and the late Jaqueline Blank. Helen H. Hubbell and James W. Hubbell Jr. have pledged $500,000.

In recognition of donations, the section of the center designed by architect I.M. Pei has been named the Florence Cowles Kruidenier Building. One gallery in the section designed by Richard Meier is now the John and Mary Pappajohn Gallery, and another has been named for Wells Fargo. The galleries renovated with Principal dollars will bear that company’s name.  

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