by Jennifer Page Wall, University Advancement
William & Mary's Muscarelle Museum of Art will soon be expanding and adding a new gallery for American art, thanks to a $1 million commitment made by Patty ’62 and Carroll ’62 Owens through the Owens Foundation. This announcement comes on the heels of the Board of Visitors approving the art museum’s construction and expansion project—a critical step forward in both fundraising and planning for the building.
As longtime supporters of the university, the Owenses are playing a big role in ensuring that the museum will remain a vibrant jewel in the center of William & Mary’s campus.
“The museum is a treasure that needs to grow. Over the last several years, it has experienced a remarkable increase in visitors and students and faculty are utilizing the museum's experiential learning programs more and more," said Patty. "The space simply hasn’t kept up with the demand."
"There are also many pieces of art work that the museum has had for a number of years but no place for them to go. We want to fix that,” added Carroll.
For decades, Patty and Carroll have been bold proponents of the Muscarelle Museum of Art. In the early 2000s, when the museum faced severe budget cuts, they both led efforts to keep the museum from closing its doors by offering a three-year challenge grant. After helping to raise nearly $1 million, the Muscarelle was able to garner enough resources to keep its doors open, thus saving the museum.
“Patty and Carroll are visionary philanthropists who believe in the power of infusing art and culture into the entire William & Mary community and beyond. The museum will benefit greatly from the gift and we couldn’t be more thankful,” said Aaron De Groft ’88, director of the Muscarelle Museum of Art. “It is indeed very fitting that the new gallery for American art will be named in Patty and Carroll’s honor.”
De Groft recently outlined a strategic plan that will advance the art museum’s core mission of serving as a dynamic resource for the community, a working laboratory for the university and providing a platform for visiting exhibitions and its own collection. The Foundation's gift greatly expands this plan, according to De Groft.
De Groft's vision is reflected in the university’s new For the Bold fundraising campaign. In total, the museum aspires to raise $60 million for the campaign. Fundraising priorities include tripling the visitor spaces and galleries for collections and exhibitions, creating a teaching center for research and experiential and engaged learning as well as establishing a state-of-the-art auditorium and gathering space to bring the community together.
Both Patty and Carroll believe that this gift will help fuel even greater appreciation for the museum and the art that is housed within it. “The Muscarelle Museum has enriched campus life in so many ways, particularly with its world-renowned art exhibitions and scholarly programming offered under Aaron’s leadership,” said the Owenses. “We hope the gift will inspire future generations to immerse themselves in the arts and provide an atmosphere in which students and the community as a whole can thrive."
The Owens Foundation is currently headed by Carroll and Patty and is comprised of their two children Carrie Owens Garland ’90 and Coby Owens M.B.A. ’92, as well as Donald G. Owens ’65, J.D. ’71 and Millie West HON ’91. This is only one of many impactful gifts that have been given by the foundation to William & Mary during the For the Bold campaign. In addition to its support for the museum, the foundation has given generously to VIMS, the Alumni House, Ash Lawn-Highland and most recently was the impetus behind the creation of the bronze James Monroe statue standing in front of Tucker Hall.
“Patty and Carroll are two of William & Mary's most loyal supporters and their continued investment in the university is a reflection of their deep love for alma mater,” said Matthew T. Lambert ’99, vice president for University Advancement. “I join them in eager anticipation of the renovation and expansion of the museum as a result of generous support in this campaign.”
Patty has served on the Muscarelle Museum of Art Foundation Board for nearly 15 years and Carrie has been a member on the board since 2013. Carroll has been active on many boards over the past few decades, including serving on the William & Mary Foundation as well as the VIMS Foundation Board and Council.