Milwaukee Art Museum Erases Building Expansion and Operating Debt

Posted on May 5th, 2006

Milwaukee, WI, May 5, 2006— The Milwaukee Art Museum announced last night at a Harvard Business School dinner honoring Sheldon B. Lubar, chairman of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, as Businessman of the Year, that Lubar’s goal of retiring the debt from the Museum will be achieved by the end of 2006. 

In July 2003, Sheldon B. Lubar volunteered to lead a campaign to retire the remaining debt incurred during the construction of the Museum’s internationally acclaimed Quadracci Pavilion addition designed by Santiago Calatrava. He promised those who pledged to the campaign that their gifts would only come due when a milestone of $25 million was reached.

Last spring, Lubar announced that this milestone had been reached and fund-raising continued. By last November, the Museum needed a remaining $3,500,000 to clear the debt including estimated interest on pledges due in the future. Last fall, Museum Trustee Betty Quadracci offered a challenge grant of $3 million if this could be shown to clear debt including future interest by December 2006. This involved getting donors to accelerate their pledges – – which most of them have did did – – and the raising of a further $500,000.

Two local businesses each contributed $50,000. On May 3 , rd Sue Selig, a Museum Trustee, and her husband, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, pledged the remainder. This is the fifth donation the Seligs have given for the building.

Thanks in large part to several dedicated Museum Trustees who provided conditional pledges and challenge grants, the goal of clearing the debt was reached eight months ahead of schedule. David Gordon, director and CEO of the Milwaukee Art Museum, stated, “We have reached a new level of philanthropic support, which can only happen when you have a highly engaged Board of Trustees which cares deeply for the institution.” Gordon said there was a generous response to the retiring-the-debt campaign. The following gave over $1 million to retire the debt: Chris Abele, Donald and Donna Baumgartner, The Cudahy Foundation, Marianne and Sheldon Lubar, The Reiman Foundation, Sue and Bud Selig, Betty Quadracci/Quad Graphics, David and Julia Uihlein, Lynde Uihlein, Andy and Carlene Zeigler.

Sheldon B. Lubar remarked that the “Milwaukee Art Museum is more than an architectural wonder that has awed the community and a nation; the Museum is a symbol for the City of Milwaukee. I am deeply grateful to our generous donors, many of whom have given several times.”

Betty Quadracci is also giving the Museum $625,000 to clear operating fund debt. She said “My late husband Harry and I were the first major donors to the Calatrava-designed addition. It seems appropriate that I should be the last. I felt that we needed to lift the financial burden on the Museum and reduce the Museum’s debt to zero so that the Museum can concentrate on the future.”

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