The IU Art Museum has changed its name to the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art after the couple donated $15 million for enhancements and renovations.
The gift and name change were unveiled during an announcement by President Michael McRobbie on Wednesday in the second floor atrium of the museum.
Also, another $20 million will be invested by the University as a part of the gift-matching program of the For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign.
“This incredibly generous gift from the Eskenazis in support of the art museum is heartening and uplifting — but it is hardly surprising,” Provost Lauren Robel said at the announcement. “In the many years I have had the pleasure of knowing Sid and Lois, they have consistently demonstrated a deep-seated love for the students of Indiana University.”
In addition to the monetary donation, the Eskenazis also plan to donate their collection of nearly 100 works of art. Most of their collection includes prints from 20th century European and American artists.
The collection has 34 works from Spanish artist Joan Miró from the 1960s and 1970s that will help complement the museum’s already existing collection of 35 pieces from Miro’s career during the 1930s to 1950s.
Aside from Miró, the collection also contains works from Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and others.
There are also three to four paintings from artist Marc Chagall, which Lois Eskenazi said are her favorite pieces. She remembers when she and her husband acquired them.
“We walked into the gallery in Paris in blue jeans,” she said. “And you know Parisians can be a bit snoody and you could tell they didn’t want to sell to us. Not until we showed them the list of pieces we already owned.”
Sidney and Lois met at IU’s Sample Gates. They were both involved in greek life at IU, Lois was in Sigma Delta Tau and Sidney was in Pi Lamda Ki, which no longer exists on campus. Since meeting at the gates Lois said he has catered to her every whim.
At the announcement, Lois gave Sidney the credit for picking out the art and said he had the great eye for the good works, but claimed she wasn’t completely uninvolved.
“He would buy and I would hang,” she said with a laugh.
Sidney expressed his gratitude to IU for giving him his opportunities in life. Sidney said it has always been a privilege to work and that even at 86 he still works eight hours every day.
Sidney earned both a Bachelor of Science degree and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree and went on to start a real estate development company in 1962.
Not only has Sidney and his wife donated to the museum, but also to the IUPUI Herron School of Art and Design, to a scholarship fund at IU-Bloomington and $40 million to the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis.
“It couldn’t go to a better organization than this school, we love it,” Sidney said. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, for letting us make what we consider our legacy gift.”
Susan T. Rodriguez Ennead Architects of New York and Browing Day Mullins Dierdorf of Indianapolis will be the museum designers for the new renovations, which are expected to be complete by 2020.
The donations from both the Eskenazi’s and the University will be used to entirely renovate the museum and enhance every single gallery, McRobbie said.
Though plans for the changes are still being discussed, David Brenneman, the museum director, gave a vision of what is to come.
Brenneman said the renovations will allow more art to be shared with students, faculty and visitors, engage students more deeply through renovated galleries and hands-on activity in seminar rooms, invest in new technologies that allow the collections to be shared outside the museum walls, revitalize conservation efforts and teach about conservation sciences.
“In short the renovations will allow us to become one of the great American university art museums of the 21st century,” Brenneman said.
After the announcements, refreshments were served as guests mingled with each other, McRobbie, Robel and the Eskenazis. The new museum name was already printed on the sign outside the building and unveiled for photos toward the end of the celebrations.
“We both love IU,” Lois said. “We are so glad that this magnificent building will hold our love of our collection and always hail to old IU.”
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