By Todd Cohen
RALEIGH, N.C. — Based on a pilot program in a handful of counties, nearly 300 seventh-graders at 46 middle schools in 24 counties throughout the state now are learning about history, English language arts, science and math by studying digitized versions of art from the North Carolina Museum of Art, with the help of a curriculum and training the Museum developed with and for teachers.
Supporting the “Art of Collaboration” initiative are funds the Museum raised in a just-concluded capital campaign that generated a record-high $50.6 million, exceeding its goal by $600,000.
Roughly half the total raised help boost the Museum’s endowment, which had plunged in value during the recession to $14 million in 2006 and now totals $31 million.
The endowment, which remains smaller than those of peer institutions such as the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla., and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Va., supports operations, education programs, exhibitions, art purchases, lectures and symposiums.
Chaired by Ken O’Herron, president of O’Herron and Co., the campaign generated $15.7 million in deferred gifts through bequests and annuities from 28 individuals, including $14.5 million to the endowment, three-fourths of which is restricted by donors to specific uses.
Kathryn Yandell, senior director of major gifts at the Museum, says key goals of the campaign were to secure deferred gifts and strengthen its efforts to develop major gifts and planned gifts.
The campaign also generated $8.85 million to support landscaping around the $73.3 million West Building the Museum opened in April 2010 with public funds, and to sustain and maintain the Museum’s grounds and park. Funding for the West Building included $15 million from Raleigh and Wake County and the remainder from state appropriations.
The campaign also generated $7.6 million to support the Museum’s $18 million in general operations. Operating with a staff of 150 people, the museum receives 30 percent of its operating funds from the state and 70 percent from private support.
The biggest gifts to the campaign, which enlisted nearly 300 donors, included $9.5 million from an individual who asked to remain anonymous; $2.5 million each from Wells Fargo and the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust; $2 million from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation; and $1.45 million from the Andrew Mellon Foundation.
With just over 18,000 members, the Museum generates $4 million to $6 million a year in annual revenue, including membership revenue that is main source of its unrestricted funding each year.
The campaign eclipsed the $26 million the Museum raised in the early 2000s in a comprehensive campaign that, unlike the just-ended campaign, included annual fundraising.
While the campaign has ended, the Museum now is trying to raise $400,000 to supplement $1.6 million it received through a state allocation to improve storage space and technology for its collection, which is housed in its East Building that opened in 1983, says Ellen Stone, director of development.
The museum also is looking at possible improvements to its park that might include such amenities as benches, water fountains and a visitor center. The park already is attracting 100,000 visitors a year, while the museum typically attracts 300,000 visitors a year, a number that can grow by 100,000 in years it stages blockbuster exhibitions.