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DMA Recieves Anonymous Nine Million Dollar Donation

by Jerome Weeks 5 Nov 2013 11:09 AM

It’s going to help underwrite the free admissions policy for three years and get the DMA’s entire collection online.


anderson 3cutDMA director Maxwell Anderson. Photo by Jerome Weeks. Image outfront from Shutterstock.

The Dallas Museum of Art has received a new anonymous gift of nine million dollars. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports it’s not going to purchase a new masterpiece. But museum visitors will appreciate it anyway.

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A nine-million dollar donation is more than one-third the DMA’s entire annual budget of 22 million dollars. So this new anonymous gift is sizable – even if it’s not going toward something glamorous like a new wing. Instead, it’s a major affirmation of the new paths director Maxwell Anderson has taken the museum since coming to Dallas two years ago. Four millions dollars will go to support his free admissions policy and the free membership program called DMA Friends. Both of these began this past January.

Director Anderson says, “It’s exhilarating to look at how our move to free admission and membership has been embraced. This is the latest and most majestic statement of support for it. But the other headline for me is 35,000 people have signed up to be DMA Friends. And we’re still adding over 800 people a week to our membership program, which is the fastest growing in the country.”

The remaining five million dollars will go to something else that has been central to Anderson’s plans: reaching people through their laptops, smartphones and tablets.

“We have 22,000 works in the collection,” Anderson notes. “This is going to allow us to get every object in the collection online. And it allows the encyclopedic mission of the museum to be manifest in real time in ways that very few museums around the world are able to provide. That’s remarkable.”

Whenever possible, these online items will be free and open for use by the public. The new donation will even fund ways to measure the impact of this online project.

Here’s the full press release:



– Donation Supports DMA Commitment to Expanding Access to Audiences Worldwide–


Dallas, TX, November 5, 2013 – The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) today announced an anonymous gift of $9 million over three years to ensure free general admission to the DMA and enable the Museum to publish its entire collection online.


The donation, effective immediately, will provide $4 million in unrestricted general operating support for free general admission. It is structured to include matching funds from additional giving of $2 million raised over a five-year period. The remaining $5 million will complete the digitization of the Museum’s permanent collection, including the creation of rich educational content to support free online experiences with art. The gift includes resources to measure the educational impact of the project.


The DMA is the largest museum in the region, providing access to its collection and a wide range of exhibitions and educational and public programs to the community. In January 2013, the DMA returned to a policy of free general admission, reflecting its renewed emphasis on increased accessibility. In tandem with this shift to free general admission, the DMA launched an innovative new platform of visitor participation called DMA Friends, which offers free membership to anyone who wishes to be a part of the Museum. Since the launch of DMA Friends, more than 35,000 visitors have enrolled in the program, 94 percent of whom self-report no prior involvement with the Museum.


By digitizing its entire collection, the DMA will create one of the most sophisticated online art collections in the world, by providing greater accessibility to its collection and leading the field in the quality of information available for use by students, teachers, and scholars. In addition, whenever permitted by existing agreements, the DMA will release all images, data, and software it creates to the public under Open Access licenses for free personal and educational use.


“This is an exciting moment in the Museum’s history, and we are deeply grateful to our donor for the exceeding generosity and the significance of this gift,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director. “With this donation, the DMA will become one of the world’s most open and accessible museums. This opportunity reinforces our deep commitment to serve as an important educational resource for our local and regional community, as well as for our growing online audiences worldwide.”


“We are extremely grateful for the support this gift provides to the DMA,” added Robert Stein, Deputy Director. “It is a vote of confidence in the Museum’s efforts to make free experiences with art broadly available to the public, both onsite and online. By providing Open Access to so much new content about our collection, this donation is making an important statement about the value of open cultural data for the future of our field. I’m thrilled about the opportunity this provides for the DMA to make a significant impact in the field digitally.”


About the DMA Friends Program

The free membership program encourages and recognizes visitor participation as an essential ingredient of the museum experience. Through this groundbreaking new approach, the DMA encourages a vibrant and connected community as part of the Museum, and strengthens the larger cultural community in Dallas, as well. DMA Friends is gaining popularity as a model for museums across the country to increase their educational impact, and in September the Museum received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to study the research potential of this model with three partner institutions: Denver Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Minneapolis Institute of Arts.


About the Dallas Museum of Art

Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and acclaimed educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 22,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, the Museum welcomes more than half a million visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events, and dramatic and dance presentations.


The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Partners and donors, the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.