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$25 Million Gift to Support the Art Institute of Chicago



February 13, 2024

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CHICAGO — A $25 million gift from the Bucksbaum family—Carolyn (Kay), Jacolyn (Jackie), and John Bucksbaum—will support future initiatives of the Art Institute of Chicago, with a focus on the creation of the Bucksbaum Photography Center. This remarkable support is a lead gift in the museum’s visionary multi-year plan to expand and enhance the visitor experience.

The Bucksbaum Photography Center will house the Department of Photography and Media and its collection. This transformational investment will have a lasting impact on visitors looking to experience the museum’s singular and world-renowned collection, expanding access to the power of Photography and Media.

This is the largest philanthropic contribution to the Photography and Media Department in the history of the Art Institute of Chicago and is one of the largest Photography and Media-specific donations to any museum in the country.

“It is an honor to work with Kay Bucksbaum and her family who have the vision and foresight to invest in our city’s cultural leadership,” said James Rondeau, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute of Chicago. “We are immensely grateful for Kay, Jackie, and John’s long-term commitment to the museum and look forward to continuing our partnership.”

This extraordinary gift will be a transformative investment in the future centrality and visibility of the department—its staff, facilities, collections, and exhibitions.

“This contribution is paramount to future ambitions for the Photography and Media department,” said Matthew Witkovsky, Richard and Ellen Sandor Chair and Curator, Photography and Media. “The Bucksbaum family’s investment will have a lasting impact that all visitors can experience.”

A long-time collector and leader of the museum, Kay Bucksbaum’s passion for photography was instilled early in childhood through her father and remains steadfast to this day. Kay has served as a member of the Photography and Media Curatorial Committee since 2003 and a member of the museum’s Board of Trustees since 2002. Combined with her interest in modern and contemporary art, she has been instrumental in numerous projects at the museum over the last 25 years, including the naming of the Carolyn S. and Matthew Bucksbaum Gallery as part of the construction of the Modern Wing.

“I have an abiding passion and appreciation for the power of photography and media,” said Kay Bucksbaum. “This gift from our family is an investment in the future of the department at the museum and the curators who are moving this field forward.”

Beyond the Art Institute of Chicago, Kay is a trustee at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and an advisory board member of the Bucksbaum Institute of Clinical Excellence at the University of Chicago.

Jackie and John Bucksbaum are both true civic leaders. In addition to serving on the Art Institute of Chicago’s Committee on Photography and Media since 2016, Jackie is a member of the Board of Directors for the Society for Contemporary Art, is on the Cinema/Chicago Executive Committee, and is a member of the Latin School of Chicago’s Senior Advisory Council following years of service on the Board of Trustees. John is a trustee at the Field Museum of Chicago, an advisory board member of the Bucksbaum Institute of Clinical Excellence at the University of Chicago, campaign director of the Chicago Chapter of the American Jewish Committee and a member of the boards of directors of both Navy Pier and the Chicago Sports Commission for Sport Tourism.


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