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May 24, 2021

National Gallery of Art Announces Andrew Mellon Foundation Challenge Grant Exceeds Goals With $80 Million Earmarked For Endowment

Andrew W. Mellon Memorial Fountain

Andrew W. Mellon Memorial Fountain. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Image © 2021 Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art

Washington, DC—The National Gallery of Art announced today that a challenge grant initiative for endowment funds awarded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has exceeded its goal. The Mellon Foundation awarded the endowment challenge grant on the occasion of the National Gallery's 75th anniversary in 2016. More than 200 donors to the National Gallery made contributions totaling $50 million to match the Mellon Foundation's $30 million grant, amounting to $80 million in endowment funding. In addition to securing key programs for the future in digital initiatives, conservation science, scholarly research, education, and outreach, the funding includes a $10 million leadership gift from trustee David Rubenstein, $8 million of which will support Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access at the National Gallery. The total matching funds raised exceed the original goal of $45 million.

"Meeting this endowment challenge grant exemplifies the sustained power of Andrew Mellon's vision of a national museum strengthened by the generosity of many individuals. The trustees and staff join me in expressing our deep gratitude to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its historic grant, and to the more than 200 private citizens who share with the Mellon family a spirit of patriotic philanthropy displayed through contributions to meet the challenge," said Kaywin Feldman, director of the National Gallery of Art. "Special, deep thanks go to our trustee David Rubenstein for a significant and exceptional gift of $10 million. We are particularly grateful to Christiane and James Valone, Roger and the late Victoria Sant, the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, the late Leonard and Elaine Silverstein, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick W. Beinecke, and the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation for their magnanimous gifts to the endowment that helped meet the Mellon challenge."

The Mellon challenge grant also spurred additional significant contributions to the National Gallery, amounting to almost $70 million in spendable funds given since December 2015. Transformational gifts to support art acquisitions, special exhibitions, and capital projects were made by the Lee and Juliet Folger Fund, the Honorable Alfred H. Moses and Ms. Fern M. Schad, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Mallory and Diana Walker, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, Betsy Karel and the Trellis Fund, and the Buffy and William Cafritz Family Foundation, Inc.

"As we launch a reimagined brand, my fellow trustees and I are thrilled that the institution will be able to fulfill our key strategic priorities. These efforts will revolve around Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion, digital initiatives, conservation science, scholarly research, and education outreach," said Mitchell P. Rales, president, National Gallery of Art. "We are grateful to all the citizens and foundations who contributed and the enduring generosity of the Mellon Foundation and Mellon family for supporting this impressive fundraising effort."

Endowment Challenge Grant

In March 2016, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation honored the 75th anniversary of the National Gallery's opening with a historic $30 million endowment challenge grant to support core programming. The National Gallery pledged to raise $45 million in new endowment funds by March 2021 to match The Mellon Foundation's grant. More than 200 donors, both longtime patrons and new supporters, have made commitments of more than $49 million to enhance the National Gallery's endowment.

The $80 million in new endowment funds will build upon core programming, some of which the Mellon Foundation has funded in the past, such as imaging science, photograph conservation, and fellowships in the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. New areas of support include the digital outreach program and future educational activities that will enable the National Gallery to expand its reach and fulfill its central mission of making art accessible to everyone.

The trustees and staff of the National Gallery of Art are grateful to the following additional individuals and foundations whose leadership contributions to the endowment helped to complete The Mellon challenge grant: Louisa C. Duemling, Frederic C. Hamilton Family Foundation, Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, Leonard A. Lauder, Jacqueline B. Mars, Sharon Percy Rockefeller and John D. Rockefeller IV, Edmond J. Safra Foundation, and Denise and Andrew Saul.

The National Gallery's educational programs serve a wide range of audiences, including the historically underrepresented, and provide opportunities to train and diversify the next generation of museum professionals. Given the rapid growth and change in technology, the National Gallery must keep pace to ensure that its collections, art historical and conservation research, and educational resources are available in digital form. This grant substantially strengthens digital outreach, digital imaging, and media production, ensuring the preservation and dissemination of National Gallery materials.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Since 1969, the Mellon Foundation has provided critical support for the National Gallery's core scholarly activities, all of which ultimately benefit the wider museum community. The Mellon Foundation has supported the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (the Center) with significant gifts for its fellowships, research, and publication programs. In the realm of conservation, Mellon Foundation grants have funded groundbreaking work in scientific research and imaging science. Past Mellon grants have also supported curatorial research and fellowships, scholarly publications, and the National Gallery of Art Library.

The Mellon Foundation has stepped forward at key moments in the National Gallery's history to help launch transformative projects. Together with Paul Mellon and Ailsa Mellon Bruce, the Mellon Foundation contributed funds for the construction of the East Building, which was designed by I. M. Pei and opened in 1978. In the mid-1980s, the Mellon Foundation made a leadership gift to the National Gallery's first-ever national capital campaign for the Patrons' Permanent Fund, a $50 million endowment for art acquisition. The Mellon Foundation made another substantial gift in 1991 to endow three senior positions in honor of the National Gallery's 50th anniversary, thus securing these vital positions for the long term. In 1994, the Mellon Foundation made a leadership gift for an unrestricted endowment to help launch the National Gallery's $105 million New Century Fund campaign.

Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation believes the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom to be found there. Through its grantmaking, the Foundation seeks to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Additional information is available at

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