The Baltimore Museum of Art announced on Tuesday that it has been promised $3 million — the third largest individual gift in its history — from two long-time supporters to pay some costs of its new center for education and creativity.
The Patricia and Mark Joseph Education Center, named after the donors, will open Sunday. The new center will culminate the final phase in the museum's multiyear, $28 million renovation project.
"What attracted us was the whole idea of educating schoolkids," attorney and real estate developer Mark Joseph said Tuesday during a press conference at the museum. "The BMA already has a very successful education program. We hope that our gift will bring as many Baltimore schoolkids to the museum as children from the region."
The couple have a history of supporting education in the region. Mark Joseph was president of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners from 1975 to 1980. And before she retired, Patricia Joseph was a dean at Stevenson University as well as a special assistant to the provost of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She also is an immediate past chair of the Board of Overseers at the Baltimore School for the Arts, which her husband helped found.
In addition to her nine years as a member of the BMA's Board of Trustees, Pat Joseph spent a decade working as a docent.
"She comes from an economic background, so working at the museum was a very educational experience for her," Mark Joseph said.
Half of the Josephs' gift will help pay the costs of building the new $4.5 million, 5,500-square-foot center. The remaining $1.5 million will be used for the endowment that will help fund programs designed to foster connections between the museum and visitors. Among other things, the new facility contains an exhibit space that will draw together works from the museum's collection that are grouped around a theme. It will also include an interactive gallery featuring a yearlong project by a local artist and a hands-on art-making studio for museum-goers.
"It's a momentous day at the Baltimore Museum of Art," said Clair Zamoiski Segal, chairwoman of the museum's board of trustees. The $3 million gift, she said, "will help imagination, innovation and creativity to flourish" in the city and beyond.
This is the second seven-figure gift this fall to be donated to a Baltimore cultural organization and earmarked for educating Baltimore pupils. On Sept. 12, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra announced it was receiving $6 million from the Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund. The money will create a special endowment fund for educational programs that, among other things, will help support concerts featuring student musicians playing alongside symphony members.
Museum spokeswoman Anne Mannix-Brown said the Josephs' gift is tied for the third largest individual gift in museum history, behind two 2007 contributions of $10 million from philanthropist Dorothy McIlvain Scott and $5 million that was donated anonymously. The following year, the museum received $3 million from former trustee Charles W. Newhall III and his wife, Amy, that was split between the endowment and the operating budget.
Mark Joseph founded The Shelter Group, which began developing multifamily housing in 1975. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he also served as Baltimore City's Deputy Housing Commissioner and Development Coordinator.