Press Room / Minneapolis Institute of Art Receives Largest Staff Endowment Gift in Its History

December 9, 2014

Minneapolis Institute of Art Receives Largest Staff Endowment Gift in Its History

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The Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Foundation Gives Eight Million Dollars To Endow Director and President Position 

Gift Given To Mark the MIA’s 100th Birthday Year

Pictured left to right: Nivin MacMillan, Kaywin Feldman

Pictured left to right: Nivin MacMillan, Kaywin Feldman

Minneapolis, December 8, 2014—The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) today announced an $8-million gift from the Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Foundation to endow the position of Director and President. It is the largest endowment gift ever to the museum for a staff position. Kaywin Feldman, who has been Director and President since 2008, will inaugurate the Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Director and President of the Minneapolis Institute of Art position. The gift is given in honor of the upcoming centennial year of the museum, in 2015.

Diane Lilly, Chair of the MIA’s Board, said, “On behalf of the board and the museum staff, I wish to thank Nivin MacMillan for this extremely generous gift, which ensures the vitality of the director’s position in perpetuity. Nivin’s passion and commitment to the museum—and to art—has been longstanding. We are grateful to her and applaud the Foundation’s leadership in supporting and celebrating the museum during its 100th birthday year.”

“It is a privilege to support the museum in this way, especially at a moment which demonstrates the impact of remarkable leadership,” said trustee Nivin MacMillan. “Kaywin Feldman has attracted a talented team, not the least of her enticing Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Matthew Welch, to stay in Minneapolis. She is astoundingly creative and strategic about positioning the museum for the 21st century so it can fulfill its mission as effectively as possible. If we are to be the best in the future, it is imperative that the director’s position attract comparable leadership.”

Mrs. MacMillan’s interest in the museum began when she joined the Docent Training program in the late 1970s, soon after she moved to Minneapolis. She then worked at the MIA for almost ten years teaching the museum’s docents. In 1997 she joined the Board of Trustees. Since then she has served on various committees and has chaired both the Development and the Accessions Committees. Most recently, she chaired the Steering Committee that raised more than $6 million for the MIA’s 100th Birthday Year. Major gifts from the Foundation include sponsorship of the exhibitions “The Louvre and the Masterpiece”and “Rembrandt in America,” and support for the acquisition of An Exile Dreaming of Saint Adorno, by Siah Armajani, a watercolor by J.M.W. Turner, and other works for the departments of Prints & Drawings, Native American Art, and Photography. She also contributed, through the Foundation, to the redesign of the African galleries in 2013.

Last year the Foundation gave the museum a group of 35 watercolors by Seth Eastman—a soldier/artist posted at Fort Snelling in the 19th century—originally collected by James J. Hill, one of the founders of the MIA. Eastman recorded the life of the Dakota people, living near the fort, from an intimate vantage point unavailable to most outsiders. Her husband, Duncan MacMillan, bought the collection in 1995 to save this important evidence of Minnesota’s past from being sold off and scattered around the country. Although Mr. MacMillan’s great interests were in the areas of education and medicine, Mrs. MacMillan said that he would have been thrilled to see the Eastman works at the museum, where they belong. Mrs. MacMillan added, “Duncan would have recognized how crucial the role of the Director and President is to the ongoing excellence of the MIA as we embark on our second century.”

Duncan MacMillan served as a Cargill director for more than 30 years. Mr. MacMillan was a graduate of Brown University in Providence, RI, and, as a trustee of the university for many years, was a devoted and generous supporter of the school.

Of Mrs. MacMillan, Kaywin Feldman said, “Nivin is passionate about the mission of the MIA, and her enthusiasm is infectious. She has strategically supported the growth of the museum’s collection over a number of years, helping us to acquire singular masterpieces. I am extremely proud to become the Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Director and President.”