In Recognition of Philanthropy, MFA Announces ‘Bank of America Plaza on the Avenue of the Arts’

BOSTON, MA (September 20, 2010)—The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), announces today that it has received a commitment of $10 million from Bank of America, a longtime supporter of the MFA and one of the world’s largest financial institutions. This donation comprises $5 million in funding and $5 million in gifts of art. The funding supports Museum exhibitions, programs, operating expenses, and capital improvements, in addition to special events surrounding the opening in November of the Museum’s new wing for the Art of the Americas and Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard. The donation of art valued at $5 million includes the oil painting Blue Green Yellow Orange Red (1968) by acclaimed American contemporary artist Ellsworth Kelly, as well as other works to be selected from the Bank of America Collection, one of the oldest and largest corporate art assemblages in the world. In recognition of Bank of America’s long-time support of the MFA, which includes more than $15 million in philanthropic giving to date, the MFA will name the plaza in front of its Huntington Avenue entrance the “Bank of America Plaza on the Avenue of the Arts.”

“Bank of America has been a preeminent supporter of arts and culture for many years—around the globe as well as here in Boston. This gift of funds, in addition to this iconic painting by Ellsworth Kelly, affirms the company’s position as a civic leader and its strong commitment to both the Museum and the cultural life of the city of Boston,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA. “I am delighted to recognize Bank of America’s generosity by naming our plaza on the Avenue of the Arts in its honor. I extend my gratitude to Bank of America for being such a devoted benefactor of the Museum and our community.”

The New Wing
As the Museum prepares for the opening of its new wing for the Art of the Americas in November, it is planning a series of events, supported by Bank of America, celebrating The New MFA. The wing is the centerpiece of the MFA’s major expansion and renovation project, designed by internationally renowned architects Foster + Partners (London). It allows the MFA to display more than 5,000 works of art, spanning three millennia, from North, Central, and South America. The wing will open to the public on Saturday, November 20, during a free Community Day. Other special events are planned for the public, for MFA members, and for campaign donors throughout November. The opening of The New MFA is sponsored by Bank of America and the media sponsor is The Boston Globe.

“Bank of America has a long and proud heritage of supporting the arts and some of America’s most illustrious arts institutions, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston,” said Anne M. Finucane, Global Strategy and Marketing Officer, President Northeast. “We recognize the important role the arts play in sustaining and stimulating the cultural and economic vitality of Boston and the many communities we serve, and we continually look for meaningful ways to partner with museums to open up access to the arts. We are incredibly honored to re-team with the MFA and, with the opening of the Museum’s new wing, the residents of Boston and beyond can enjoy extraordinary works of art that span 3,000 years and the larger part of the Western Hemisphere—an artistic distinction that is sure to enhance Boston’s cultural landscape.”

Bank of America Plaza
The naming of the Bank of America Plaza on the Avenue of the Arts reinforces the corporate-cultural partnership between two leading institutions—Bank of America and the MFA—and their commitment to broadening the reach of arts and culture, as well as enriching the communities they serve. Bank of America’s interest in making art available to all led to its support (through the Building the New MFA campaign) of renovations to the Museum’s Huntington Avenue entrance. In addition to making it more accessible to all visitors, the redesign, which included the plaza, created a more welcoming environment while preserving the grandeur of the building’s classic Beaux Arts design—conceived by the Museum’s original architect, Guy Lowell. The plaza, where Cyrus Dallin’s bronze sculpture, Appeal to the Great Spirit (1909), greets passersby, is a place where friends can meet before beginning their visit to the MFA, or for the presentation of special community events. This elegant and spacious area along the Avenue of the Arts features a semi-circular driveway made of the same Deer Isle granite as used on the Museum’s façade, surrounded by lush landscaping. At the entrance to the MFA, monumental brass urns rest on granite plinths, which have been recently chiseled to read “Bank of America Plaza on the Avenue of the Arts.” These will be unveiled this evening by Malcolm Rogers and Anne Finucane during a ceremony attended by members of the Museum’s Board of Trustees and Board of Overseers.

Ellsworth Kelly
Drawn from Bank of America’s renowned art collection, Ellsworth Kelly’s monumental five-panel painting (approximately 10 by 22 feet), Blue Green Yellow Orange Red (1968), is a seminal example of the artist’s early experiments using shaped canvases for his exploration of perception and figure/ground relationships. It is one of Kelly’s most impressively scaled works from the late 1960s, and represents one of the Museum’s most important recent acquisitions from this period. In addition to becoming a signature work of the MFA’s contemporary collection, the painting will serve as a focal point in the Museum’s Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art, which will open in September 2011 as a center for the display of works created since the mid 20th century. Kelly, one of the most significant American artists working today, is a graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. (The MFA will also pay tribute to Kelly’s work in sculpture through an exhibition that will open with the Linde Family Wing in September 2011.) Also next year, the Museum will present Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection (February 9 through June 19, 2011), which will showcase numerous iconic images by leading photographers from the 1840s to the present drawn from the Bank of America Collection.

A Proven Partnership
With its latest investment, Bank of America is the MFA’s largest corporate donor. The bank’s previous gift of $5 million to the Museum’s Building the New MFA campaign (2001–2008) provided funding for the MFA’s building project, as well as special exhibitions, programs, and accessibility initiatives. Through the years, Bank of America has also provided funding for the MFA’s ongoing Access Programming, a series of services and offerings that engage participants of all ages and abilities in the life of the Museum, as well as several major exhibitions at the MFA. These include The Secrets of Tomb 10A: Egypt 2000 BC (2009);

El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of King Philip III (2008), organized by the MFA with the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University; and Americans in Paris (2006), organized by the MFA and the National Gallery, London, in association with The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The MFA is also a participant in Bank of America’s Museums on Us® program, which provides bank cardholders with free museum access on the first full weekend of each month.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
For more information, or for digital images, please call Kelly Gifford at 617.369.3540 or email her at kgifford@mfa.org.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), opened the doors of its red brick and terra-cotta building in Copley Square on July 4, 1876. Over time, the rapid growth of the collection made a new location necessary and the Museum hired architect Guy Lowell to develop a master plan for a grand, classical museum. In November 1909, the MFA opened the doors to its present Beaux Arts-designed granite structure on Huntington Avenue. Throughout the century, the Museum continued to expand with major additions such as its Evans Wing (designed by Lowell) in 1915, and its West Wing (designed by I.M. Pei) in 1981. In 1999, the MFA commissioned the architectural firm, Foster + Partners (London), to develop a master site plan that would reflect the strong north/south axis of Lowell’s original design while addressing the MFA’s growing collection as well as the visitor experience. “The New MFA” will enrich the ways in which visitors encounter the Museum’s great works of art, improve navigation through its galleries, as well as enhance and increase space for the MFA’s encyclopedic collection, educational programs, conservation facilities, and special exhibitions. At the conclusion of its fundraising campaign in 2008, the MFA had raised $504 million to support substantial building and renovation enhancements to the Museum, strengthen the endowment for programs and positions in perpetuity, and provide for critical annual operations. “The New MFA,” which has as its main components a wing for the Art of the Americas and the Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Family Courtyard, will open to the public on November 20, 2010, during a Free Community Day sponsored by Bank of America. In September 2011, the MFA’s new Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art will open.

Bank of America and the Arts
As one of the world’s largest financial institutions and major supporter of arts and culture, Bank of America has a vested interest and plays a meaningful role in the international dialogue on cultural understanding. As a global company, Bank of America demonstrates its commitment to the arts by supporting such efforts as after-school arts programs, grants to help expand libraries, programs to conserve artistic heritage as well as a campaign to encourage museum attendance. Bank of America’s unique program offers customers free access to more than 120 of the nation’s finest cultural institutions through its acclaimed Museums on Us program, while Art in our Communities shares exhibits from the company’s corporate collection with communities across the country through local museum partners. The Bank of America Charitable Foundation also provides philanthropic support to museums, theaters and other arts-related nonprofits to expand their services and offerings to schools and communities. Bank of America partners with more than six thousand arts institutions worldwide.

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