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$210 million gift in Calders and funding to Seattle Art Museum from Jon and Kim Shirley
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$210 million gift in Calders and funding to Seattle Art Museum from Jon and Kim Shirley

Former Microsoft president Jon Shirley and his wife Kim have donated 48 works by Alexander Calder to the Seattle Art Museum.

The art donation is valued at $200 million and will go on view in November as part of an exhibition celebrating the gift.

The Shirleys have been collecting the works of Calder for 35 years, and the gift will help activate the museum now. Jon Shirley said it was a good time to consider giving that part of their collection to the museum.

The Shirleys have donated their art collection to the Seattle Art Museum, allowing visitors to see the breadth of creativity and the development of one artist.

The gift is accompanied by a $10 million endowment and an annual commitment from the Shirleys of $250,000 to $500,000 for programming and research related to Calder and his lasting impact on art history.

This gift provides an exciting opportunity for the museum to broaden what they show and broaden the understanding of the influence that Calder had on other artists.

Shirley and his late wife Mary donated a 1971 outdoor sculpture by Calder, The Eagle, to the museum, leading to the development of the Olympic Sculpture Park. This park has become a beloved space for the city’s residents, with The Eagle as its icon. The Olympic Sculpture Park and the Calder donation are examples of a collector who is focused on giving back and having an impact in his community.

Shirley’s love of Calder began when he was a student at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. When the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. opened its acclaimed 1998 retrospective, he was a lender to the exhibition, leading to the creation of a great collection.

Through the Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation, Jon and his late wife, Mary, have supported not-for-profit arts, educational, and human service organizations. They spearheaded the creation of the Olympic Sculpture Park in downtown Seattle, providing the lead gift that facilitated the park’s construction and funding an endowment to provide for the ongoing operations of the park.

Shirley served as chairman of the board of trustees of the Seattle Art Museum and as chair of the Olympic Sculpture Park’s building committee.

Collectors of modern and contemporary art, particularly the work of Alexander Calder, Jon, and Mary Shirley gifted Alexander Calder’s Eagle to the Olympic Sculpture Park.

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