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Benaroya Collection gifted to Tacoma Art Museum

Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) has announced the gift of a collection of 225 works including Northwestern and international studio art glass, along with important paintings and sculptures by renowned regional artists.

Becky Benaroya has bequeathed the collection that she and her late husband Jack Benaroya carefully assembled during their 70 years of marriage. The gift, announced on Mrs. Benaroya’s 93rd birthday, includes a contribution for the construction of a new 7,390 square-foot gallery addition in which to present the collection, an endowment fund for its care, and funds for a dedicated curator. The contribution to support the gift totals nearly $14 million. TAM’s expanding collection further establishes the Pacific Northwest as the nation’s art glass epicenter.
The new wing will be designed by award-winning architect Tom Kundig of Seattle-based Olson Kundig and is projected to open in autumn 2018. It will house 5,700 square feet of gallery space, in addition to 1,690 square feet for public facilities and support functions. Tom Kundig successfully completed TAM’s Haub Family Galleries in November 2014.
“We’re deeply honored and grateful for this incredible gift to Tacoma,” said Stephanie Stebich, TAM Executive Director. “We are very pleased to celebrate Becky’s generosity and this exemplary collection with a preview exhibition in October 2016, to give everyone a taste of what is to come when the new galleries open. For Becky to make this extraordinary gift to the public on her birthday is inspiring and we are forever grateful.”
The Benaroya’s gift includes 150 exceptional works in glass, bringing TAM’s glass holdings to nearly 1,000 pieces and placing it among the most important studio art glass collections in the nation. It complements TAM’s permanent retrospective of Dale Chihuly’s works, Anne Gould Hauberg collection, and Paul Marioni studio glass collection. The works in the Benaroya collection represent “the best of the best of these artists,” according to TAM’s Chief Curator Rock Hushka, including eminent Northwest glass artists Sonja Blomdahl, Dale Chihuly, Joey Kirkpatrick and Flora C. Mace, Dante Marioni, Paul Marioni, Richard Marquis, Benjamin Moore, William Morris, Charles Parriott, Maxi Powers, Ginny Ruffner, Cappy Thompson, Toots Zynsky, and many more.
The Benaroyas also collected national and international glass artists, often with an association to the influential Pilchuck Glass School, including César Baldaccini, Howard Ben Tré, Kyohei Fujita, Ulrica Hydman-Vallien, Stanislav Libensk. and Jaroslava Brychtová, Marvin Lipofsky, Raymond Martinez, Jay Musler, Seth Randal, Clifford Rainey, Julio Santos, Livio Seguso, Therman Statom, LinoTagliapietra, and Bertil Vallien, among others. Mrs. Benaroya’s personal passions include the international art deco glass by Daum and Lalique and fiber art by Olga de Omaral and Claire Zeisler.
Additionally, the gift includes significant paintings by key Northwest artists such as Leo Adams, Guy Anderson, Deborah Butterfield, Kenneth Callahan, Joseph Goldberg, Morris Graves, Paul Horiuchi, Jeffry Mitchell, Mark Tobey, and George Tsutakawa. “We look forward to sharing the full breadth of this gift with our visitors,” added Hushka.
“My son Larry and I were very thoughtful in considering the best placement for the works of art that Jack and I collected. We approached TAM for many reasons; chief among them was the Museum’s focus on Northwest art. We believe that our collection fits beautifully with TAM’s holdings and mission. We also wanted to keep the collection together and in the Northwest,” said Mrs. Benaroya. “Jack especially was passionate about the studio glass movement and we were early supporters. Finding the right home for our works is a very personal matter. This choice reflects and honors Jack’s vision, and now sustains his legacy, to have these works on public view to inspire generations to come. It makes me very happy that he will be remembered in this way.”
This transformative gift advances TAM’s collection strategy of building a premier regional collection that tells the story of the Northwest artistic identity in all its richness and complexity. TAM also collects art from the broader Western region, with more than 300 works of western American art gifted by the Haub family along with $20 million in expansion and endowment funds in 2012.
Underscoring the benefit of the gift within the community, Dale and Leslie Chihuly said, “Our dear friends Jack and Becky Benaroya have long inspired all of us with their generous and loving support of the arts in the region. They have also been devoted benefactors of the Pilchuck Glass School. We are delighted that, after decades of careful and passionate collecting, Becky and the family have decided to gift this important body of work to the Tacoma Art Museum where it can be enjoyed by the public for years to come.”

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