Forget the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Bellarmine Hall might be your Art History class’ next field trip.

The Bellarmine Museum, set to open in the fall of 2010, has received a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Bellarmine Museum, set to open in the fall of 2010, has received a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Fairfield University recently received a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the Bellarmine Museum, which is set to open in fall 2010. Museum highlights include items on loan from the Cloisters Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art along with the University’s collection of Italian Baroque and Renaissance period paintings.

By July 31, 2013, the University must match the grant four to one, completing a $2.5 million endowment for the museum. The University is currently fund-raising the $2 million needed.’

When asked about the fund-raising process amid the difficult economic climate, Vice President of Advancement Stephanie Frost said she sees the NEH grant as an opportunity rather than a challenge.’

‘Gifts to the project’s endowment will help the institution receive the NEH monies, so there is a great opportunity here for leverage and for having’ one donor’s’ gift count in helping to raise another gift,’ Frost said. ‘Challenge grants are always welcome, especially those from a prominent organization such as the NEH, but are even more welcome in difficult economic times.’

Frost said the fund-raising team spends a large amount of time reaching out to alumni, parents and friends of the University to secure such funds.’

‘Based on those many conversations, we are able to reach out to individuals who we know have an interest in the arts,’ she said.’

John Meditz ’70, a University trustee and vice chairman and co-founder of Horizon Asset Management in New York City, gave a $2.5 million gift to support the capital part of the project. Before that the Charles and Mabel P. Jost Foundation and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation offered $125,000 and $50,000, respectively.’ ‘

‘To the extent the Bellarmine Museum will augment the greater goal of more fully integrating life and learning on campus, I believe it represents a great milestone for Fairfield,’ said Meditz in a 2008 Fairfield Now article.’

According to a recent press release, the NEH grant will add to an endowment to fund a full-time museum director, faculty and staff workshops on integrating visual arts into the curriculum, a lecture series, planning to find and install exhibitions and loans, and web site development.

Jill Deupi, interim director for the museum, said the Bellarmine Museum ‘will substantially enhance the Art History program and what it has to offer,’ and said she and her colleagues use ‘many of the objects slated for the museum in [their] day-to-day teaching.’

‘These pieces are already used with great regularity and success,’ said Deupi.’ ‘The process of hands-on learning will only be facilitated when these works are all gathered together in one central location; a location that will also include a ‘Smart’ classroom on-site.’

Art History student Nadine Hovnanian ’09 said the museum will serve students in their required Visual and Performing Arts courses as well as the greater Fairfield community.’

‘I find that the Museum will greatly complement Fairfield University’s mission, and’ will encourage interdisciplinary inquiry among its students,’ Hovnanian said. ‘I believe it will serve as a wonderful supplement to courses, not just those strictly focused on the arts.’

Deupi said she wants to invite all departments to benefit from the museum.’

‘Indeed I foresee exhibitions several years down the road that may be co-curated by faculty from Art History and, say, Biology,’ she said.

Centerbrook Architects and Planners of Centerbrook, Conn. are designing the museum. Its other projects include the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College, the Williams College Museum of Art and the Fairfield Museum and History Center, according to the Fairfield Now article.’

The museum will be the third art ‘gallery’ on campus. Others are the Thomas J. Walsh Gallery in the Quick Center and the Lukacs Gallery in Loyola Hall.

‘I think it is fair to say that the Bellarmine Museum can only enhance Fairfield University and what it offers its students, as well as its faculty, staff, alums, supporters and members of the surrounding communities,’ said Deupi.

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