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Walker Art Center raises $78 million to complete campus plan
More than half a million people have visited the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden since it opened on June 10, 2017. Photo: Walker Art Center.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN.- The Walker Art Center has successfully secured more than $78 million to complete its campus renovation plan, grow its operating endowment, and add major public artworks inside and outside.More than 330 households, corporations, foundations, and government agencies contributed $78 million in support of a $75-million capital campaign to redesign the Walker and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, creating a more welcoming, environmentally sustainable destination for the next generation. In 2011 the Walker formally launched a $55-million fundraising effort and increased it to $75 million in 2015 in order to fund a newly designed front entrance and plaza.

The Walker raised $66 million from the private sector to re-landscape the five-acre greenspace adjacent to the Walker (now known as the Wurtele Upper Garden), add a new main entrance and restaurant on Vineland, renovate the entire facade of its iconic 1971 building, and grow the institution's operating endowment.

Walker Executive Director Olga Viso comments, "Many people stepped up to provide the monies necessary to complete the drive. I am especially grateful to the Wurtele, Pohlad, and Atwater families for their amazing lead gifts. Their support, along with that of many other individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies, has truly helped make the Walker's modernized campus plan a reality for this community."

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board also completely renovated the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in collaboration with the Walker. The Sculpture Garden has been a unique public/private partnership between the Park Board and the Walker since 1988. The Park Board received $8.5 million in public bonding support to fund the reconstruction of the Sculpture Garden as well as $1.5-million from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization for an ambitious rainwater reclamation effort that is part of the project.

The Walker's Capital Campaign Committee, which consisted of a group of Walker Trustees, met monthly for nearly a decade strategizing how to secure the $75 million needed to complete the plan. Honorary Trustee Roger Hale conducted a feasibility study that helped launch the fundraising campaign. Patrick Denzer and Donna Pohlad served as Co-Chairs of the Capital Campaign Committee and led the charge to raise the substantial funds necessary to execute the entire project. They were joined by Honorary Co-Chairs Judy Dayton and Roger Hale, who provided decades of institutional experience to the endeavor.Chief of Advancement Christopher Stevens states, "The Walker's Capital Campaign Committee included two of the trustees with the longest tenure with the institution as well as a new generation of Board leaders. The Walker was the beneficiary of an incredible group of volunteer fundraisers who made dozens of solicitations for this campaign. Their extraordinary determination over the years made a huge difference in helping the institution exceed its $75-million goal."

Margaret and Angus Wurtele provided the lead $20-million gift to the campaign, which is the largest, single cash gift in the history of the Walker. The Pohlad family a gave an $8.5-million gift and Martha and Bruce Atwater provided a $6.0-million gift, helping ensure the drive's success.

In addition to the funding outlined above, 31 households contributed nearly $2 million to help acquire new works for art for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Wurtele Upper Garden. Those monies were augmented by more than $8.6 million from existing endowed acquisitions funds that had been previously established by donors. In addition, several works of art now on view were donated and/or promised to the Walker by individuals. The Walker campus and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden now features 60 outdoor artworks across 19-acres, including nearly 17 major new sculptures.

Six commissioned works—by artists Nairy Baghramian (Iran), Frank Big Bear (US), Theaster Gates (US), Mark Manders (The Netherlands), Philippe Parreno (France), and Aaron Spangler (US)—are now on view as well as works by Tony Cragg, Katharina Fritsch, Gary Hume, Robert Indiana, Kcho, Liz Larner, Sol LeWitt, Matthew Monahan, Eva Rothschild, Kiki Smith, and Monika Sosnowska.

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