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$4 million gift to Eskenazi Museum to fund research into past female artists



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Jane Fortune sits at a film screening in 2013 at the IU-Purdue University Indianapolis Herron School of Art and Design. Fortune's estate has given the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art a $4 million gift to fund research on female artists. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art announced Tuesday it received a $4 million gift to advance research on female artists.

The estate of Hoosier philanthropist Jane Fortune awarded the money to create the Dr. Jane Fortune Endowment for Women Artists and the Dr. Jane Fortune Fund for Virtual Advancement of Women Artists, according to a press release. The estate also gave the museum a collection of 61 pieces of art owned by Fortune. 

"Jane Fortune is one of the great women of IU," said IU first lady Laurie McRobbie in the release. "Her tireless efforts to shine a light on Renaissance women artists and her beloved city of Florence are admired by her fellow alumnae as exemplifying the power of passionate philanthropy in action.”

Fortune was born and raised in Indianapolis, according to the New York Times. As an adult, she created Advancing Women Artists, a nonproft that locates and restores art created by women between the 16th and 19th centuries. 

According to the press release, Fortune received an honorary doctorate from IU in 2010. She served on the boards of directors for the IU-Purdue University Indianapolis Herron School of Art and Design, the national advisory board for the Eskenazi Museum of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Fortune’s most recent project was a collaboration between Advancing Women Artists, the Eskenazi Museum of Art and IU to create a database of 16th to 19th century women artists from around the world. The $4 million will fund the database as well as provide support for ongoing museum renovations, according to the release. 

Fortune died on Sept. 23, 2018 in Indianapolis at 76. In honor of her estate’s award, the Eskenazi Museum of Art will name its first-floor American and European art gallery the “Jane Fortune Gallery.”

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