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Museum of Anthropology Receives Transformational Gift of $5 Million From Koerner Foundation
Michael Koerner (l) and Walter C. Koerner (r). Photos: Courtesy Museum of Anthropology.

VANCOUVER, BC.- The Koerner Foundation, Toronto, has donated $5 million to the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology (MOA). The gift will support the Museum’s $55.5 million renewal project, A Partnership of Peoples, which is now underway. In 2001 and 2003 respectively, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund each awarded the MOA renewal project $17,247,628, contingent on matching community contributions. The Koerner Foundation’s gift is a significant step toward reaching the final funding target. Scheduled for completion in January 2010, the Museum will be transformed into one of the most advanced anthropological research facilities in the world.

In the early 1950s, Walter C. Koerner, a visionary leader and former Chair of UBC’s Board of Governors, was instrumental in negotiating with the federal and provincial governments to bring together the financial resources to establish the current Museum in 1947. He was also a collector of Native arts, who donated one of MOA’s largest and most highly-prized collections of Northwest Coast First Nations art. He commissioned Haida artist Bill Reid to carve the internationally renowned sculpture The Raven and the First Men, and assisted MOA in acquiring the world’s largest collection of Bill Reid artwork (more than 230 pieces). He also donated more than 600 remarkable European ceramics from the early 16th to 19th centuries that continue to inspire visitors and researchers alike, in the gallery that bears his name.

Michael M. Koerner, Walter C. Koerner’s son and President of the Koerner Foundation, says, “We are so pleased that Walter and Marianne Koerner’s legacy of leadership in shaping and supporting the Museum’s international reputation for excellence will continue today through the support of our Foundation.”

“The spirit and generosity of the Koerner family is fundamental both to the renewal of the Museum and to its continuing success,” said Prof. Stephen Toope, President and Vice-Chancellor of UBC, “This gift strategically amplifies the generosity of Walter C. Koerner’s contribution to MOA and our university.”

Says Museum Director Dr. Anthony Shelton: “We are tremendously grateful to the Koerner Foundation for this transformational gift, and for the many opportunities it affords Canada’s preeminent museum of First Nations art and world cultures.”

Koerner Foundation/Michael Koerner
The Koerner Foundation is a private foundation established in Toronto, Ontario in June 1985. The Foundation supports charitable purposes in Ontario and British Columbia, including institutions of higher learning, cultural institutions, and hospitals.

In keeping with his family’s philanthropic tradition, Michael Koerner and his wife Sonja have made important contributions to Canadian art and culture over the past 40 years. They have each volunteered for and supported numerous arts and educational organizations, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sunnybrook Hospital, Shaw Festival, Ontario Arts Council, and the Royal Conservatory of Music.

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