Investing in Education
The Girard Legacy Endowment Fund
Fun fact: an astonishing 97 percent of the people who visit Multiple Visions: A Common Bond, Alexander Girard’s installation at the Museum of International Folk Art, say they’d like to see the exhibition again.
What they generally don’t know is that the objects on view represent less than 10 percent of the entire Girard Foundation Collection, which Alexander and Susan Girard gave to the museum as a legacy gift in 1978.
Comprising some 106,000 objects from 100 countries on six continents, the collection, which largely resides in storage a floor below the installation, requires significant and ongoing preservation. So does the installation itself, which is seen by an estimated 80,000 visitors each year. Yet there is no dedicated fund to address the multitude of current and future needs of this ever-popular museum destination.
Out of need springs action. Earlier this year, as Multiple Visions marked 40 years of delighting museumgoers of all ages, museum leadership, along with the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, established the Girard Legacy Endowment Fund to serve the ongoing needs of the Girard Foundation Collection and Archives and the Multiple Visions installation.
Co-chaired by longtime museum supporter Connie Jaquith and Foundation trustee Edelma Huntley, and assisted by a volunteer committee, the campaign aims to raise $5 million—$1.5 million in cash for immediate impact and an additional $3.5 million in planned gifts.
“Three transformational gifts form the core of the museum and its global collections— Bartlett, Neutrogena/Cotsen and Girard,” says Jaquith. But while the Bartlett and Neutrogena collections came with financial endowments for their preservation and exhibition, the Girard collection did not. The Girard Legacy Fund fills the need for permanent f inancial support for the Girard collection and Multiple Visions installation that will both respect Girard’s original intentions and respond to visitors’ evolving expectations.
To date, the Foundation has raised over $600,000 in cash and $1.2 million in planned gifts. The campaign was launched with a sizable $300,000 bequest from the Bruce Kaliser Estate and two separate $100,000 gifts—one from Lynn Godfrey Brown and the other from the Friends of Folk Art. These were soon followed by a third contribution of $100,000 from Carl Kawaja and Gwendolyn Holcombe to establish the Elisabeth W. Alley Fund for the Girard Wing in honor of Carl's mother.
In addition, another forward-thinking gift of $100,000 has been promised from Susan and Steven Goldstein upon their passing. Before making their home in Santa Fe, the Goldsteins’ philanthropic giving focused on youth education in Lexington, Kentucky. When attending a Girard Legacy Fund presentation, and learning that the collection provides an experiential window on the world, the couple made a generous commitment to expanding Girard’s educational reach. The fund will support new educational initiatives, including innovative technologies, lecture series, symposia and other public programming.
“I knew immediately I wanted to give to the fund because of the installation’s incredible impact on kids,” says Steven, a well-known neuroradiologist and former professor of radiology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.
“We are all about providing learning opportunities to young people,” adds Susan, an accomplished ceramicist and past president of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen who is well versed in folk art. “MOIFA is an educational institution. You learn about people and other cultures. It’s a museum where you learn about humanity.”
The Goldsteins’ planned gift to the Girard endowment campaign is through a fund that the Santa Fe Community Foundation maintains on their behalf. Steven adds to the fund through a qualified charitable distribution using the required minimum distribution from his IRA. This approach allows an individual to donate up to $100,000 tax-free to charity.
The beauty of the Girard Legacy Fund is that there are countless ways to tailor your gift to your specific interests.
“The Girard Legacy Endowment Fund is an opportunity to preserve and enhance Alexander Girard’s life-changing gifts of art, imagination and scholarship," says campaign co-chair Huntley. "By contributing cash or naming the museum in your will or estate plan, you will connect more visitors from around the world to Girard’s artistic legacy.”
To support the Museum of International Folk Art, contact Laua Sullivan at 505 216.0829 or Laura@museumfoundation.org.
This article and image are from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s Member News Summer 2023.