Major Gift to the Stanford University Museum of Art from Philanthropist Phyllis Wattis

Contact: Jill Osaka, Public Relations Manager, 650-725-4657

Stanford, CA - Stanford University Museum of Art was pleased to announce the receipt of a $3 million gift from well-known Bay area philanthropist Phyllis Wattis. The gift endowed a curatorship in the art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas and a fund for acquisitions, exhibitions, conservation and educational programs in these areas.

Mrs. Wattis' generosity to Stanford goes back several years. She supported the campaign to establish the Rodin Sculpture Garden at the Stanford Museum in 1985, and endowed three professorships in 1988 in the areas of art, medicine, and business. This new gift to the Stanford Museum was among several recent large contributions that she has made to a number of Bay area arts institutions.

Thomas K. Seligman, the John and Jill Freidenrich Director of the Stanford Museum, who is a specialist in the field of African art, said: "Phyllis Wattis is a splendid friend of the arts and an admirer of art from the tribal world. Needless to say, I am delighted with her magnificent gift to our Museum. This will enable us to strengthen in a major way a curatorial and collecting area that I have long hoped to build at Stanford. The programs this gift will make possible will also support a number of faculty in their teaching of this field." Seligman was instrumental in the development of the department of the art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, where he was formerly Deputy Director.

The Wattis gift coincided with an important gift of art from collectors Ruth and Marc Franklin that enriched the Museum's holdings considerably. The gift included twenty-three objects from west and central Africa, one Nootka figure from British Columbia, three Okvik (ancient Eskimo) ivory carvings and three figures and a mask from Indonesia.

These gifts were made at a time of renewal for the Stanford Museum. Closed since the 1989 earthquake, the Museum is scheduled to reopen as the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts in January of 1999. The new Center will include the historic main building, a new 42,000 square foot wing, an upgraded Rodin Sculpture Garden, and new sculpture garden areas. The wing will house large galleries for special exhibitions and the Museum's permanent collection of modern and contemporary art, an auditorium, cafe, and bookstore.