The Leir Foundations have been a truly remarkable resource for the Museum from their inception. In 2002, the Foundations gifted Leir Hall, a spectacular three-story hall with dramatic skylight, to provide a space for community interaction. This hall had a transformative impact on the Museum, allowing it to host family programs, including monthly favorites like Park Bench and Home School Days as well as Free Family Days, and public programs, such as the recent screening of "ALL ME: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert" in February. The hall also houses overflow art classes and receptions from the Museum’s Yard School of Art and provides a gathering space for school tours, which serve both local schools and disadvantaged students and their teachers. Members of the community benefit not only from MAM’s own programs in Leir Hall, but also through facility rentals by external organizations and individuals, and events with community partners, including the MSU/MAM Art Talks with the Master of Fine Arts degree program at Montclair State University, the first annual Montclair Film Festival, and the Annual Conversation on Education and the Arts with Montclair Community Pre-K. In addition, MAM’s special fundraising events, including the recent Art on Tap and the Museum’s annual galas, would not be possible without this remarkable space.
The Leir Foundations were also the seminal funder for "Cezanne and American Modernism," on view at the Montclair Art Museum in the fall of 2009. Reaction to the exhibition was nothing short of extraordinary. Attendance records for special exhibitions reached an all-time high, drawing 51,047 visitors from 42 states in just 17 weeks. Membership, school tours, and public programs all reached remarkable levels during this exhibition. Without the fundamental support of the Leir Foundations, this historic exhibition would not have occurred.
The Foundations became involved with the Museum through Adrian Shelby, MAM’s current chair of external affairs, who is also serving as the gala’s honorary chairwoman. “Hidden Treasures” is subtitled “A Gentleman’s Gala” to acknowledge the unprecedented involvement of gentleman co-chairs, including Merrick Andlinger, John M. Dowd, Michael Heningburg, Jr., James E. Johnson, Andrew Lacey, Jim Leitner, and Terry Wall. Esther Harper, the Museum’s director of development, said: “We contacted seven men hoping that a few would participate. To our surprise and delight, all seven responded yes. The men in the museum community really stepped up this year.” Lora Urbanelli, director of MAM, added: “These men truly represent some of the hidden treasures of our board.”
The gala will also recognize the treasures within the Museum: great works of art. All three exhibitions on view during the gala–"Look Now: Modern and Contemporary Art from Private Collections,"
For more information about the gala, visit http://www.montclairartmuseum.org/
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The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) presents exhibitions and programs that reflect its collection of historic and contemporary American and Native American art. MAM's Yard School of Art offers classes for people of all ages.