Minneapolis Institute of Art Announces More Than $19 Million in Major Endowment Gifts to Support Key Leadership Positions

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MINNEAPOLIS—June 3, 2021—The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) announced today that it has secured five major gifts for its operations and endowment, totaling more than $19 million:
•A gift of $6 million from long-time supporter and former trustee Curt Dunnavan will create the C. Curtis Dunnavan Fund for the Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer—one of the few positions of this type in the museum field nationally to be endowed.
•A series of commitments from long-time museum supporters Ken and Linda Cutler will fund Mia’s creation of a new curatorial position focused on Latin American Art. Their gift includes both an annual commitment towards this position during their lifetimes, and a bequest to permanently endow the position, expected to be valued at more than $6 million.
•$5 million in support from two donors will jumpstart the museum’s creation of its new DEAIB leadership role, to be called the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. A gift of $4 million from former board chair Nivin MacMillan—$1 million in immediate support and $3 million through a bequest—and a gift of $1 million from trustee Sheila Morgan will provide both initial funding and endowment support. The national search to fill this position is beginning, and the role will join Mia’s leadership team.
•Two longtime donors have made a bequest commitment of $2 million to expand their existing endowment to support conservation, research and programming for the museum’s collection of South, Southeast Asian and Chinese Art, and to provide support for reinstallation of the museum’s galleries.

Together, these gifts are part of the museum’s larger drive to grow its operating endowment—currently valued at $302 million, of which roughly 45% is restricted to art acquisitions—to ensure Mia has the resources it needs for ongoing financial stability. Contributing these additional funds to the museum’s endowment will generate nearly $1 million in additional operating budget support annually.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire institution, I want to thank Ken and Linda Cutler, Curt Dunnavan, Nivin MacMillan, Sheila Morgan and our generous endowment donors for their support and leadership, with commitments that will have an enduring impact on this institution,” said Katie Luber, Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President at Mia. “The creation of two new positions is an exciting moment for any institution. At the same time, Mia’s Deputy Director and COO position has long been an essential part of the museum’s leadership team, so it is particularly important that it also be an endowed post. Together these gifts are a step towards a larger priority, to bring our operating endowment up to levels that are commensurate with our peers and provide the annual support the museum needs.”

Ken and Linda Cutler Curator of Latin American Art
Mia’s creation of a new curatorial position for Latin American art reflects the growing Latino and Hispanic communities in the Twin Cities—as well as an awareness of a gap in the museum’s global approach to collecting and presenting art, which includes a diverse array of historical and contemporary art from across Africa, Asia, Europe, as well as both post-Colonial America and Native American communities. The new Ken and Linda Cutler Curator of Latin American Art—for which the museum is now seeking candidates—addresses this gap, with an endowment gift that funds the position in perpetuity.

Ken and Linda Cutler have been contributors to Mia since the 1980s; they have supported the museum’s general operations on an annual basis, and have made additional gifts for special projects including art commissions and exhibitions. They are collectors of contemporary art, and have long had an interest in Latin American art. A member of Mia’s Board of Trustees since 2014, Ken Cutler has served on the Finance Committee, Government and Community Affairs Committee, Advancement Committee, and as chair of the Audit Committee. He is also deeply committed to Mia’s efforts to serve racial equity by advancing Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, Inclusion and Belonging (DEAIB)-focused outcomes. He is currently Vice Chair of the Facing Change Committee, which was established as part of a nationwide initiative organized by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and provides the framework, training, and resources for museum boards across the country to build diverse and inclusive cultures within their organizations that better reflect and serve their communities.

“This gift is a reflection of our many interests, from collecting and celebrating Latin American art to supporting our community’s collective work on racial equity,” said Ken Cutler. “By endowing this new role at Mia, Linda and I have an opportunity to bring these different strands together in a way that will have a lasting impact on the museum.”

Recognizing their desire to support the creation of the Latin American curatorial position now—while providing a long-term commitment to the museum—the Cutlers proposed a two-part pledge. First, to address the operating endowment needs, they pledged a bequest worth at least $6 million towards this role. Second, they have committed to annual support towards the salary of the Latin American curator until the bequest is realized. In the near-term, Mia will supplement this by drawing on endowed funds previously granted by the Mellon Foundation for growth in the museum’s curatorial capacity.

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
“For more than a decade, Mia has been at the forefront of acknowledging and engaging with issues of diversity and inclusion, thanks in part to the exceptional work of our staff,” said Luber. “But it is clear that to advance this work further, and to embed it more effectively into the strategy, processes, and practices of the museum, we need a position and a person with responsibility for leadership and oversight of our DEAIB work. This funding, from longtime donors and trustees Nivin MacMillan and Sheila Morgan makes it possible for us to create the position of Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, while also ensuring that its continued place at the museum is not subject to discretionary budgeting. We are incredibly grateful for their support.”

Mia added the “B” for “Belonging” to the normal DEAI (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion) position to reflect the larger goal: that staff and visitors alike should always feel like they belong at Mia. This new role will embrace both internally facing departments such as human resources and externally facing roles such as government and community affairs, and will report to the director as part of the museum’s leadership team.

C. Curtis Dunnavan Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer
Curt Dunnavan has been an active supporter of Mia since the 1980s, providing annual contributions towards general operations as well as the creation of an endowment for the purchase of Asian Art, which continues to support the growth of the museum’s collection. In appreciation, Gallery 215 (Ancient China) is named The C. Curtis Dunnavan Gallery.

During his time as a Mia trustee, Curt served on the Accessions, Audit, and Investment Committees, and he has long been an advocate for the growth of Mia’s operating endowment, understanding its importance to the future financial health of the institution. Through his involvement on the board, Curt worked closely with Patricia Grazzini, the current Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer, and also recognized the importance of this role at the museum. His gift of more than $6 million to endow the position in perpetuity—it will be named the C. Curtis Dunnavan Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer—reflects his understanding of the centrality of strong financial leadership to the overall success of the museum.

“I have long advocated for Mia to grow its operating endowment, because it is insufficient in comparison to peer institutions,” said Curt Dunnavan. “Through my years of involvement with the museum, I have encouraged others to support the endowment and made such gifts myself. This contribution, specifically in support of the deputy director and COO position, is a way to invest in Mia’s future while also investing in its future financial planning.”