History often notes the vision and generosity that led Andrew Carnegie to create an unparalleled array of educational and cultural institutions in countless communities. Less often noted is that he viewed his gifts to each community as one side of a vital partnership. He built some 2,500 libraries but left it to the local citizenry to purchase and donate the books. He built the home of his Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh, but he intentionally stopped short of providing the endowment that would ensure their growth and survival.
Since then, supporters of this great institution have been every bit as essential to Carnegie Museums’ success as was the initial investment of its founder. The generosity of donors throughout our history has sustained our museums and, in doing so, enriched the lives of many millions of people, in greater Pittsburgh and around the world.
In this issue’s cover story, we celebrate the extraordinary vision of two such donors: Milton and Sheila Fine. Their personal collection of contemporary art was carefully constructed with the guidance of Carnegie Museum of Art directors and curators, reflecting the couple’s generous intent of one day gifting it to the museum. The Milton and Sheila Fine Collection, now a permanent part of the museum’s holdings, is the source of a breathtaking exhibition on view in the Museum of Art’s Heinz Galleries through March 17, 2024.
Giving takes many forms, of course. We are blessed as a region by the support of numerous foundations and corporations that believe, as we do, that the cultural vitality and diversity of a community matters to its economic development and the well-being of all its residents. In this issue’s Class in Session story, we’re reminded of the leadership gifts of The Richard King Mellon Foundation and The Henry L. Hillman Foundation that enabled us to launch The Andy Warhol Museum’s Pop District initiative. Last May, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted Carnegie Museums the right to offer a diploma in digital marketing for students enrolled in the Pop District’s innovative workforce development program. We are now, in effect, a private school as well as a union of four dynamic museums! And that is only the latest example of how our institution has continued to evolve, with the generous support of the community we serve.
Giving is also a learned behavior, as you see when you read about the ways Peter and Kristina Gerzsten have been raising the philanthropists of the future. The Gerzsten family, like all members and donors of Carnegie Museums, belong to a remarkable legacy of giving that began 128 years ago. That’s what Andrew Carnegie had in mind all those years ago, and we are grateful to you and the many before you who have chosen to make Carnegie Museums a part of your lives.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
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