$10M gift supports ICA Pittsburgh and public art at Carnegie Mellon University

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$10M gift supports ICA Pittsburgh and public art at Carnegie Mellon University
View of recent public art installation by Jessica Stockholder. Image courtesy Jessica Stockholder and Carnegie Mellon University.

PITTSBURGH.- Carnegie Mellon University announced today that longtime supporters, art patrons, and CMU alumni Tod and Cindy Johnson have committed $10 million to advance art on campus and the university’s new Institute for Contemporary Art Pittsburgh (ICA). Half of the gift is dedicated to create the Tod and Cindy Johnson Endowment for Public Art, which will support the acquisition of new art as well as programming. The remaining $5 million supports the ICA’s new and expanded home within the Richard King Mellon Hall of Sciences, an interdisciplinary center that will also house departments from CMU’s Mellon College of Science and School of Computer Science. Carnegie Mellon will break ground on the new facility, designed by ZGF Architects, this Friday, April 12.

In recognition of the Johnsons’ generosity, CMU will name its public art curator the Johnson Family Public Art Curator. In addition, a gallery in the new ICA Pittsburgh will be named in their honor.

“For decades, Cindy and Tod Johnson have been among Carnegie Mellon University’s most visionary and generous supporters,” CMU President Farnam Jahanian said. “Their passion for our mission is matched by their extraordinary love for the arts, and we are grateful that they are cultivating a legacy that will spark discourse, ideas, and creativity across our campus for generations to come.”

“Carnegie Mellon has been a special place for Cindy and me since we met as students. In fact, Cindy earned her fine arts degree from what was then Carnegie Tech, deepening our love and appreciation for the arts, which has been a passion throughout our lives,” Tod Johnson said. “With this gift, we are thrilled to provide support for the ICA Pittsburgh, which will become a CMU and Pittsburgh focal point for groundbreaking art exhibitions and programming, and more broadly for public art on campus for many years ahead.”

The Johnsons’ gift coincides with installations of new public art projects across campus, including most recently Making Way by Jessica Stockholder, a site-specific work that interweaves art with architecture, and an abstract 44-foot-long mural by Stephanie Dinkins. Later this month, the university will unveil a new work by Amanda Ross-Ho, a 10-foot-tall monument of ascending colors that responds to the unique landmark of The Fence at CMU and plays homage to on-campus traditions of advocacy, inclusivity, and community.

“Carnegie Mellon’s commitment to public art and interdisciplinary collaboration has created a program unique to higher education. This program will be further enhanced by the new ICA Pittsburgh, which will position us to create experiences that promote conversation and bring meaning to our contemporary life like nowhere else,” said Elizabeth Chodos, the inaugural Johnson Family Public Art Curator and director of the ICA Pittsburgh. “I am honored to be the first to hold this position and to be able to use these generous resources to advance the arts at CMU, in the Pittsburgh region and beyond.”

Tod and Cindy Johnson

Cindy Johnson is an arts advocate and philanthropist. She has been an active supporter of museums including the Guggenheim and Neuberger Museum of Art, and serves as co-chair of the board of directors for St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children in New York.

Tod Johnson is the co-founder and managing director of Duo Partners, a New York-based investment and consulting firm. Previously, he was the executive chairman of The NPD Group, a global market-research firm that he led for 51 years; today he is chair of the Board of Directors for Circana, a company founded by the merger of NPD and IRI. Tod is an emeritus member of CMU’s Board of Trustees, on which he served for more than four decades, and has held numerous volunteer leadership roles at Carnegie Mellon, including chairing its Centennial Campaign. He is the president and chief executive officer of The Metropolitan Opera.

Prior to their most recent gift, the Johnsons gave $50 million to CMU to endow undergraduate scholarships as well as persistence activities that help students stay on the path to graduation. This transformational contribution, made in 2018 as part of Make Possible: The Campaign for Carnegie Mellon University, was the single largest gift for scholarship support in the university’s history. In addition, previous gifts include the establishment of the Herbert A. Simon Professorship of Economics and Psychology, support for the Tepper Quad and Purnell Center for the Arts, and an endowment for the university’s Fifth Year Scholar Program.

Cindy (B.A. in art) and Tod Johnson (B.S. in graphic arts management and M.S. in industrial administration) met and married while students at the Carnegie Institute of Technology.

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