Benaroya family donates art collection, $14M to Tacoma Art Museum

Seattle philanthropist Becky Benaroya has donated her family’s collection of 225 works of art to the Tacoma Art Museum. The gift, announced on Benaroya’s 93rd birthday, includes $14 million to build a new 7,390 square-foot gallery in which to showcase the collection, an endowment fund for its care, and funds for a dedicated curator.

“We’re deeply honored and grateful for this incredible gift to Tacoma,” said Tacoma Art Museum Executive Director Stephanie Stebich. “For Becky to make this extraordinary gift to the public on her birthday is inspiring and we are forever grateful.”

The new wing will be designed by architect Tom Kundig of Seattle-based Olson Kundig and is projected to open in fall 2018. It will house 5,700 square feet of gallery space, in addition to 1,690 square feet for public facilities and support functions. Kundig successfully completed the Tacoma Art Museum’s Haub Family Galleries in November 2014.

Becky Benaroya and her late husband, Jack, assembled the collection during their 70 years of marriage. The collection includes Northwestern and international studio art glass along with paintings and sculptures by renowned regional artists.

The works in the Benaroya collection represent “the best of the best of these artists,” according to Tacoma Art Museum Chief Curator Rock Hushka, including Pacific Northwest glass artists Sonja Blomdahl, Dale Chihuly, Joey Kirkpatrick and Flora C. Mace, Dante Marioni, Paul Marioni, Richard Marquis, Benjamin Moore, William Morris, Charles Parriott, Maxi Powers, Ginny Ruffner, Cappy Thompson, Toots Zynsky, and many more. Additionally, the Benaroya’s gift includes significant paintings by Pacific Northwest artists such as Leo Adams, Guy Anderson, Deborah Butterfield, Kenneth Callahan, Joseph Goldberg, Morris Graves, Paul Horiuchi, Jeffry Mitchell, Mark Tobey, and George Tsutakawa.

Tacoma Art Museum plans to mount a preview exhibition in October 2016

“My son Larry and I were very thoughtful in considering the best placement for the works of art that Jack and I collected,” said Becky Benaroya. “We approached the Tacoma Art Museum for many reasons; chief among them was the Museum’s focus on Northwest art. We believe that our collection fits beautifully with the Tacoma Art Museum’s holdings and mission. We also wanted to keep the collection together and in the Northwest.

“Jack especially was passionate about the studio glass movement and we were early supporters,” she added. “Finding the right home for our works is a very personal matter. This choice reflects and honors Jack’s vision, and now sustains his legacy, to have these works on public view to inspire generations to come. It makes me very happy that he will be remembered in this way.”