Release Date: September 29,2017

Knight Foundation announces major gift to Akron Art Museum to engage more people in art

Advancing its mission to enrich lives through modern and contemporary art, the Akron Art Museum today announced an $8 million gift from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The support will enable the museum to break down barriers and bring more art into people’s lives, by establishing the Bud and Susie Rogers garden as an iconic public gathering space, augmenting its collection of known and emerging contemporary artists and engaging visitors through technology.

“Great art has the power to connect us, and a great museum can amplify that power across a community,” said Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation president. “The Akron Art Museum has a nearly 100-year history of innovation and connection to community. We want them to continue to build community, bringing together public spaces, great art, and digital technology—and probably in ways none of us can imagine today.”

Ibargüen and Akron Art Museum CEO Mark Masuoka announced the funding at a special reception at the museum.

Knight Foundation has made significant contributions to the Akron Art Museum’s development in the past 20 years, including a multi-million dollar grant for its expansion. In 2007, the museum opened the John S. and James L. Knight Building—the first North American building designed by award-winning architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au—an energy-efficient structure that has become a visually spectacular landmark for the city.

“Knight Foundation’s grant is an investment in the vision that guides the Akron Art Museum, in bringing meaningful art experiences to the community that we serve,” said Masuoka. “Knight’s support allows the Akron Art Museum to expand how we welcome our visitors and reflect the diversity of our community. We’ll be able to leverage greater resources to enhance visitor engagement and broaden visitor access to the museum’s collection, programs and events through the creation of innovative digital infrastructure and the continued stewardship of the museum collection.”

In keeping with the community-minded principles of John S. Knight, a newsman and Akron native who championed fostering more informed and engaged communities, the position of the Akron Art Museum Executive Director and CEO will be renamed in his honor. Mark Masuoka, the first John S. Knight Director and CEO of the Akron Art Museum, said “Given Jack Knight’s commitment to being the kind of leader who tirelessly worked to improve the civic landscape, we’re proud to rename the executive director’s title in his name. It’s a legacy we believe in as we work to lead in Akron by enriching lives through modern and contemporary art.”

CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital, Knight Foundation trustee and long-time supporter of the Akron Art Museum William Considine added, “There’s a rich history of the Akron Art Museum demonstrating how the arts can make the city a better place. It’s significant that Knight Foundation believes in the role the Akron Art Museum serves in Akron and that they’re willing to embrace this institution with such dedication.”

Key concentrations of Akron Art Museum’s mission

The museum’s four major areas of concentration, exhibitions, the museum collection, public engagement and operations, have all realized exponential rates of growth and benefits to the city since the opening of the 2007 Knight-supported expansion.

Knight Foundation’s grant will enhance all four areas by:

Exhibitions: Supporting the planning and execution of exhibitions by significant modern and contemporary artists, including the exhibition of work by artists whose practice explores digital aspects of contemporary culture.

Collections: Strengthening the museum’s on-going commitment to scholarship, research and acquisitions of significant artworks to be installed in the museum’s collection galleries and in the Bud and Susie Rogers Garden.

Public Engagement: Enhancing the digitization of the museum collection, in addition to the creation of digital assets that include web, gallery and program design that broaden access to the collection and boost visitor experience.

Operations: Supporting the integration of technology into museum operations by enhancing the museum’s ability to provide engaging digital content and incorporating technology into visitors’ experiences.

More information about the impact of the Akron Art Museum, its mission and its vision for the future in downtown Akron are available at www.AkronArtMuseum.org.