Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, a couple committed to higher education and advancing the arts, have donated more than $2.8 million to the U-M Museum of Art to enhance and develop its exhibitions program, ensuring that UMMA can continue to be a center of ambitious exhibition-making and interdisciplinary thinking.
The Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Museum Fund will provide essential support for the museum’s signature exhibitions, which reach more than 240,000 annual visitors. In recognition of the Tisches’ gift, UMMA will name its apse — the expansive central gallery in historic Alumni Memorial Hall — the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Apse.
“Jon and I are thrilled to support UMMA and arts engagement at U-M,” said Lizzie Tisch. “We believe that providing opportunities for students to engage with art during the formative years of their university experience is essential to their development as global citizens.”
UMMA’s exhibitions and programs connect its visitors to contemporary issues and artists as well as its rich historic collections of Asian, African and American art, UMMA Director Christina Olsen said.
The museum’s renewed focus on nationally important exhibitions — driven by campus collaborations, research, and partnerships — is expanding the role of a campus museum beyond the traditional model.
“As the museum’s most visible form of engagement, exhibitions stimulate new scholarship and thinking, and drive attendance and community engagement,” Olsen said.
“In the past year, UMMA has invested significantly in developing exhibitions on a global scale that contribute to the university’s academic vitality and have deep connections to the university’s curriculum, student interests and current events.”
Support from Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch will enable UMMA to bolster its diverse array of exhibitions and initiatives, providing opportunities for the greater university and Michigan communities to connect with a wide range of dynamic art and distinguished artists.
Located in UMMA’s Alumni Memorial Hall, the apse is highlighted by its columns and a domed ceiling in the Beaux-Arts architectural style. The space was transformed in April 2019 with a new long-term exhibition that highlights the breadth and variety of the museum’s collections.
The reinstallation, titled “Collection Ensemble,” includes American, European, African and Asian art, and recasts the role of the collection as an active, creative, sometimes startling source of material and ideas, open for debate and interpretation.
The apse is also home to high-profile university events and programs, ranging from celebratory dinners for honorary degree candidates to readings by international best-selling authors.
“Lizzie and Jonathan’s transformative gift will allow UMMA to strengthen an exhibition program that challenges, energizes, and inspires the students, faculty, and visitors from across the country that make up our highly diverse public,” Olsen said.
“UMMA’s exhibitions stimulate groundbreaking research and collaborations across diverse disciplines, inspiring creativity and new thinking.”
U-M alumna Lizzie Tisch earned her bachelor’s degree from LSA. Jonathan, an alumnus of Tufts University, is co-chairman of the board of the Loews Corp., and chairman and CEO of its Loews Hotels & Co subsidiary. He is also a co-owner of the New York Giants.
As collectors, benefactors and proponents of contemporary art and artists, the Tisches are ardent supporters of leading arts and culture organizations across the United States. This gift to UMMA follows their recent major gift to The Shed — the New York cultural center that commissions, develops and presents multidisciplinary art — which opened in the city’s Hudson Yards in April 2019.
At U-M, they have supported internships at LSA and the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, exhibitions and programs at UMMA, and the football performance center in Athletics, among other areas. Their philanthropic contributions to Michigan total more than $8.6 million.
The Tisch family’s multigenerational support for Michigan began with Jonathan Tisch’s parents, the late Preston Robert Tisch and the late Joan Tisch, who, as U-M students, met on the steps of the Hatcher Graduate Library.
A collector of 20th-century art, Joan Tisch gave $1 million to UMMA in 2007 to name the Joan and Bob Tisch Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art.
“The Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Museum Fund will extend the Tisch family legacy at UMMA by providing opportunities for tomorrow’s cultural leaders to deeply engage with extraordinary art and artists,” said Olsen.