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AVAM seeking $25 million for its endowment and naming rights

The Aaron Aardvark Visionary Art Museum?

Rebecca Hoffberger is offering up the naming rights to the institution she founded — now known as the American Visionary Art Museum — in exchange for $25 million that would among other things shore up the endowment.

But Hoffberger hopes that whoever takes her up on the offer will be someone with a sense of humor. It could be a person or company willing to keeping the museum’s name the way it is now, she said, or who would eschew a corporate logo in favor of a more whimsical moniker.

“We’re looking for a kindred spirit,” is how she put it.

For instance, she loves the idea of future generations of Baltimoreans planning their visit to the Aaron Aardvark Museum, or even the Aaron Aardvark Ark.

AVAM is going into its 23rd year with a $3 million endowment, but that’s not nearly enough to pay for emergency repairs, purchase a nearby townhouse that could be converted into the museum’s library, enhance education programs and hire a new director when Hoffberger eventually retires.

She estimates that $25 million is the sum necessary to put AVAM on the kind of permanent stable financial footing that would allow her to seriously consider offers she’s received to open a satellite museum in California.

“Twenty-five million dollars would guarantee AVAM’s future,” she said, “and it would even provide a cushion that would allow us to bounce back after a misstep.”

There’s precedent for a gift that large to the museum.

Hoffberger raised $25 million in the early 21st century and built what is now the Jim Rouse Visionary Center, which is attached to the main museum. That building opened in 2004.

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