Eiteljorg Museum lands $17.1M donation

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The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art has received a $17.1 million gift from donors who wish to remain anonymous.

The museum will put the money, its largest gift ever, toward boosting its endowment and adding an array of interactive features in its galleries.

“We are extremely grateful to the donors for this amazing gift,” said John Vanausdall, president and CEO of the museum. “It strengthens our financial future through support of the endowment, but also enables us to dramatically ramp up our successful efforts to attract new audiences by energizing the museum in bold new ways.”

The Eiteljorg launched its Project New Moon Campaign in 2009 to fund near-term improvements and grow the endowment.

Vanausdall said that with the anonymous gift, the museum has raised $8.7 million toward its goal of $11 million for short-term capital projects and more than $32 million toward the long-term goal of a $50 million endowment.

In a letter to the Eiteljorg's board of directors, the donors said:

“What we are doing with our gifting has been described as extraordinary. It is not that, but it is necessary. We consider this a 'bridge' gift. Imagine our joy at being able to connect the creative giants and genius of the past and present with the unimaginable and unlimited possibilities of the future. It is about stepping inside the massive wood doors and being welcomed to diversity, preservation of a unique American culture, having fun and feeling awe before you leave.”

The gift will support an array of upgrades. A new interactive orientation display will be installed at the main entrance in 2013. The museum will also add interactive stations in its galleries; enclose the east and north terraces for year-round dining and more events in the Allen W. Clowes Sculpture Court; and grow its "Jingle Rails" holiday exhibit. The gift will support outreach to schools and the annual Quest for the West art show and sale, which attracts fine-art collectors from around the country.


  • Veteran At Work
    John Vanausdall should be congratulated on his excellent stewardship and leadership---he may well be one of the best to come out of the Children's Museum's management! Thanks for taking care of business John, hopefully the other non-profit (the one across the river) can some day perform like you.
  • Wonderful!
    Nelson Henderson wrote: "The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit." This is a transformational gift from which generations of museum-goers will benefit in perpetuity. Thank you to the donors. Thank you to John and the vision of the museum board. Kudos to my dear friend Susie Maxwell and museum leaders for understanding the importance of building relationships!
  • local gem needs more spotlight
    This is such a fantastic museum; glad to hear of the support and of course national reputation. Under-appreciated here at home. We have attended the Summer Indian Market or fest or whatever it is called and the venue, education and entertainment programs are great, the artists and art are fantastic, but the attendance sorely lacking. Isn't that how it is -- sometimes the things close to home don't grab our attention -- but they would if we were traveling. Eiteljorg, do you host summer day camps? Do you know working parents can deduct day camp fees from their taxes? Would this be an opportunity to grow an audience?
  • Well done!
    This is great news! Congratulations, Mr. Vanausdall and staff,and thank you, Donors, for putting your resources in such a fine institution.
  • Fantastic
    Countless thanks to the donors. The Eiteljorg is a Magnificent Institution that needs more press. Go for Jingle Rails but stay for the rest!

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