The Akron Art Museum receives an $8 million gift from Knight Foundation

Staff Report

In a move aimed at advancing the Akron Art Museum’s efforts to enrich the lives of Northeast Ohioans through modern and contemporary art, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently announced an $8 million gift to the arts-and-culture institution.

This major show of support will enable the museum to establish the Bud and Susie Rogers Garden as an iconic public gathering space, augment its collection of known and emerging contemporary artists, and engage visitors through technology, according to a news release.

“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, in a statement. “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.”

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 Mark Masuoka, Akron Art Museum CEO, in a statement. “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.

“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,” said Masuoka, the first John S. Knight Director and CEO of the Akron Art Museum. “It’s a legacy we believe in as we work to lead in Akron by enriching lives through modern and contemporary art.”

Akron Children’s Hospital CEO William Considine, a Knight Foundation trustee and long-time supporter of the Akron Art Museum, 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.” CV

Lead image: Family Movie Night (July 27, 2017), courtesy of the Akron Art Museum. Photography by Chris Rutan Photography.