did not just play a major role in the sports life of Baltimore. He and his wife Pat were among the region's most generous donors to the city's cultural institutions, including the
and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
"When Art brought his team to our great city, he brought back to Baltimore the energy and excitement that we had lost years before," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.
"But anyone who knew Art also knows that he was much more than simply the owner of a football team. When Art and Patricia Modell moved to Baltimore, they adopted the entire city. The charitable spirit of the Modells will forever be connected to the great work they have done for Baltimore, including their support of the
, which now bears their name," Rawlings-Blake said.
Jeannie Howe, executive director of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, described Modell as "a successful businessman who understood how philanthropy could make Baltimore a world-class city. He touched a whole cross-section of the community. He was influenced by his own personal attachment to the arts, and Pat's as well."
The Modells' $3.5 million contribution to the Lyric in 2010 was one of the largest gifts made to a Baltimore arts organization. The money provided the final push in a $12.5 million capital campaign to make badly needed renovations to the historic theater's backstage facilities.
"My wife and I were good friends of Pat and Art and we would take them to performances at the Lyric," said Ed Brody, president of the Lyric Foundation. "They were appreciators of fine music and opera. Pat fell in love with the theater the first time she came. She wanted to do something to help, and Art said, 'You got it.' He was enthusiastic as she was."
The Lyric was renamed in 2010 the Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric.
Pat Modell's interest in visual art — she had been a supporter of the Cleveland Museum of Art before moving to Baltimore — also rubbed off on her husband.
"She loved the Walters," said Gary Vikan, director of the museum. "Art was in the distance at first, but he became more and more involved. My appreciation for him is to the nth degree. He was enormously generous to us in all respects, and his generosity came with a light touch."
The Modells helped the Walters at a particularly crucial time a few years ago.
"He and Pat gave us $1 million during the economic downturn," Vikan said, "which was really important in getting us to the other side. They could not have imagined how critical that was."
director Doreen Bolger hailed the Modells as "exemplary citizens who recognized how many different endeavors make Baltimore the remarkable community it is. Their generosity enabled the BMA to present an exhibition on artworks inspired by Baltimore's own Edgar Allan Poe, a project I co-curated with students at The Johns Hopkins University. People loved it."
The Baltimore Symphony was another regular recipient of the Modells' philanthropy; Pat Modell was given honorary lifetime membership on the board of directors.
"Almost as soon as they came to Baltimore in the mid-1990s, Art and Pat Modell became subscribers and generous supporters of the BSO," said Paul Meecham, the orchestra's president and CEO. "They fervently believed that a great city should be home to vibrant, world-class cultural institutions as well as, of course, boast a great football team. They [donated] their time and resources to build a better Baltimore. Art will be sorely missed."
Vikan recalled Modell's engaging personality.
"My lunches with Art and Pat went on for hours," Vikan said. "Art was a wonderful story-teller and told the most wonderful jokes. He was also a great humanist, a passionate human being. But the last time I saw him, he was so depressed. He had a picture of Pat near him; he was talking to me, but looking at her."
Added Brody: "Pat and Art were great friends to many in the Baltimore community and beyond. They cared so much, and not just financially."