The University of Michigan Museum of Art has taken a leap toward completing its campaign to raise $35.4 million to more than double its size.

Sarah Royce
Donations to the University of Michigan Museum of Art will help fund a major renovation to the building, including a new wing. (RODRIGO GAYA/Daily)

Since December, UMMA has received over $6.5 million in gifts from University alums, including A. Alfred Taubman, the namesake of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning; Business School alum Woon-Hyung Lee, chairman of SeAH Steel Corp; and Law School alum Irving Stenn, a lawyer in Chicago.

UMMA also received $500,000 from the Korea Foundation and $250,000 on the grounds that the forthcoming library and research center be named after Marvin and Phyllis Dolinko of Highland Park, Ill.

Announced in June 2004, the expanded and renovated museum will include classrooms, a common area, a computing site, a larger gift shop, facilities for the creation of art and an auditorium that seats 225 people.

UMMA Director James Stewart said the renovations will make the museum “a more compelling environment.”

Stewart, who has been the acting director for the past eight years, said the food provided in the common area and the wi-fi computer site will attract students to the museum because it will be “a cooler place to hang out.”

Also attracting students’ attention will be the modernized 53,000-square-foot wing that will significantly enhance gallery space, and will be more than twice the size of the current building, founded in 1946. Stewart said the idea of a new wing to the museum has been deferred for the past 50 years, but it is finally on its way to becoming a reality.

Private money has been the driving force behind fundraising since plans to renovate the museum. In the past two months alone, the museum were conceived has received more than 100 donations and pledges, bringing the total less than 10 percent away from the goal of $35.4 million. Stewart said the museum is scheduled to meet its goal by June 1.

Stenn, who donated $1 million to the project, said he was honored to contribute to the museum because of his enormous affection for art and the University. Stenn’s name will be on the Family Project Gallery, which will showcase the works of contemporary artists. Stenn said he is proud that he will be connected to a project that has the potential to inspire upcoming artists.

Carol McNamara, Senior Curator of Western art, said she expects the expansion of the existing galleries to inspire up-and-coming artists.

The updated Western art exhibit will be “a completely new experience for young art lovers,” McNamara said.

The new wing’s lower level will be home to the Marvin and Phyllis Dolinko Curatorial Research Center, which will include a research library for the curatorial and education staff of the museum. It will also house an arts periodical section for staff, researchers and students.

Construction is scheduled to begin as soon as the funds are raised. The renovated museum will open in the fall of 2008.

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