WEST PALM BEACH — Hope Alswang, who has led the Norton Museum of Art since April 2010, will retire in March after it reopens following its massive expansion and renovation by the eminent British architect Norman Foster.
Alswang, who led a $100 million capital campaign called The New Norton, has overseen an expansion of the institution’s collections, receiving donations of more than 875 artworks and the purchase of more than 700, buttressing its collections of modern art and photography.
She also inaugurated the Recognition of Art by Women (RAW) exhibition series, which highlights living women artists, and increased opportunities for free admission and programs for the public.
“Hope has had an electrifying effect on the Norton Museum of Art during her tenure,” said Harry Howell, chairman of the museum’s Board of Trustees, in a prepared statement. “In supporting our curators to develop groundbreaking exhibitions and significantly expand the permanent collection, she has brought the museum global attention. Now, thanks to her efforts and those of a committed board of trustees and dynamic staff, the Norton is on the cusp of successfully realizing a stunning new wing and beautifully enhanced campus that will transform this institution.”
The capstone to Alswang’s leadership at the Norton has been leading The New Norton project, the largest capital campaign and building transformation in the institution’s history. The Foster + Partners designed project is dramatically re-orienting the Museum entrance, adding 35 percent more gallery space, a new state-of-the-art auditorium, a new dining pavilion, double education space, and creating “a museum in a garden.” The museum, which closed in July for the final phase of renovations, will reopen to the public Feb. 9.
“The founder of this institution, Ralph Norton, gave the museum a simple, but powerful mission: to share and celebrate great works of art with the public. During my time here, in collaboration with a remarkably dedicated board of trustees and brilliantly talented staff, I’ve tried to interpret the meaning of that mission,” Alswang said in a prepared statement. “Which works do we designate as great art? What are the ways in which we can share and celebrate them? Who do we mean, when we speak of the public? The answers we formulated together have now taken tangible form in our new wing.”
The Norton’s board has launched a nation search for Alswang’s replacement.[Palm Beach ArtsPaper interviewed Alswang in 2010 when took over the Norton directorship. Here’s a look back at that interview. palmbeachartspaper.com/new-norton-chief-aiming-her-museum-for-the-top/]
Meanwhile, the Norton announced earlier this summer that it has received the largest philanthropic gift in its 77-year-history, a $16 million donation from the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund, to help support the ongoing museum renovation.
Museum officials said the fund plans to provide an additional $4 million to endow the directorship, bringing its total support of the Norton to $20 million. In recognition of the gift, the Norton’s new structure will be named the Kenneth C. Griffin Building.
The fund was financed exclusively by philanthropist Griffin, founder and CEO of Chicago-based Citadel, one of the world’s most successful investment firms.
“It is impossible to overstate the importance of this gift to the Norton, and our sincere gratitude to Ken for making it possible,” Alswang said. “Not since Ralph Norton built the museum itself has there been such a significant investment in it by a single donor.”
“The ‘New Norton’ is the realization of an ambitious, transformative vision for the museum,” said Griffin. “It will create a wonderful opportunity for generations of Palm Beach families, students and visitors to learn about and enjoy art.”
A Florida native, Griffin has given more than $600 million to educational and cultural causes.
Plumosa pupil receives gift of cello, lessons
BOCA RATON – Ten-year-old Aidan Lucero, a cello student at Plumosa School of the Arts in Delray Beach, has received a Carlo Lamberti Sonata cello in three-quarter size, along with free semi-monthly private instruction from Manuel Capote, music education and community outreach coordinator at the Lynn University Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton.
The Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition, in partnership with SHAR Music and Plumosa, surprised Aidan with the donation during a special presentation in June at the Nat King Cole Generation Hope Summer Strings program at Lynn’s Wold Performing Arts Center.
Originally from Hollywood, Aidan has been a student at Plumosa for six years. While there, he began studying the cello in third grade. He is now attending the Bak Middle School of the Arts with the goal of attending the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach.
Plumosa is a kindergarten-through-fifth grade Title I school where most its 627 students cannot afford to rent or purchase their own musical instruments or pay for private instruction. Nat King Cole Generation Hope’s mission is to provide music education to children with the greatest need and fewest resources by funding programs that provide for instruction, mentoring and resources.
Twin daughters of the great jazz pianist and singer Nat King Cole, Casey and Timolin Cole of Boca Raton, launched the program in 2008 to honor the legacy, music and life of their father after learning of budget cuts in public schools negatively affecting the arts.
Cultural Council, partner create Arts Accelerator
LAKE WORTH – The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County and the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland have launched a year-long training and consultation program for 10 cultural nonprofits in Palm Beach County.
Called the Palm Beach County Arts Accelerator, the program will focus on 10 institutions preparing to undertake major fundraising efforts in either or both the private and public sectors.
Participants include: Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, Boca Ballet Theatre, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Center for Creative Education, Historical Society of Palm Beach County, Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Loxahatchee River Historical Society, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, South Florida Science Center and Aquarium and the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches Inc.
A mix of in-person training and one-on-one, in-depth consultation will ready participants to implement their efforts while maintaining organizational stability. The program is offered free of charge to participants, underwritten by two gifts: one from The Donald M. Ephraim Cultural Leadership Fund and a second from Suzanne L. Niedland.
FGO director Danis bound for California
DORAL – Susan T. Danis, general director of Florida Grand Opera, is leaving the company Oct. 12 to become CEO of the La Jolla Music Society and The Conrad Presbys Performing Arts Center in San Diego, Calif.
During the transition period, outreach director Justin Moss, a 25-year veteran of the company, will serve as interim general director.
“This was not a decision I took lightly,” Danis said. “The past six years have been very rewarding and I am very proud of the opera we created and the impact FGO has had on the community.”
FGO officials said Danis played a critical role in the revitalization and involvement of Broward County patrons; significant growth in the quality of opera produced by the company; the development of the Made for Miami series and the presentation of cutting-edge education and outreach programs.
Danis came to FGO after 12 years at the Sarasota Opera. At FGO, she presented contemporary operas such as Marvin David Levy’s Mourning Becomes Electra and Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas along with more traditional grand opera fare.