Skip to main content

Agnes Gund '60 of MoMA spoke on campus as part of 'The State of American Museums: A Roundtable Discussion.'

Art devotee Agnes Gund '60 could have transformed New York's legendary Museum of Modern Art just by supporting it – which she did, in addition to providing more than 150 works of art.

In addition, as president of the museum from 1991-2002, Gund led an extraordinary $858 million renovation that reinvented MoMA – an institution some consider to be the most influential of its type in the world.

When the museum reopened in 2004, the project earned critical acclaim and brought visitors back to MoMA when many other museums were facing declining revenues.

Gund gave her time, applying the same diligent work ethic she provides for all her charity efforts and convincing fellow trustees to follow her example and make their own significant contributions.

"I don't want to be in-name-only for committees," Gund, now president emeriti, told New York magazine in 2005. "I'm at the museum every day."

Gund believes in giving back, which is the same reason she previously served as a Connecticut College Trustee and founded Studio in a School, a non-profit organization that brings artists into New York City schools. She established the program in 1977 when budget cuts virtually eliminated arts classes from New York City public schools.

"I think everyone is proud if they can leave their children better off than they were," Gund, a mother of four, told The New York Times in 2001. "But there's a difference between better off and hugely wealthy. I don't think anyone needs to make huge amounts of money or inherit huge amounts of money without giving to the public good."

She received the Connecticut College Medal, the highest honor awarded by the College, in 1984, for her philanthropic work, and returned to campus Wednesday, April 8, 2009, for "The State of American Museums: A Roundtable Discussion."

Gund, Carl Nold and Jock Reynolds, all leading figures in American museums, discussed how the economic crisis is affecting museums today and what responsibilities local museums have to their communities. The discussion was moderated by Christopher B. Steiner, the Lucy C. McDannel '22 Professor of Art History and director of the museum studies program.

-Rachel Harrington

April 3, 2009