Tacoma Art Museum exceeded fundraising goal for new wing

Haub family member will take seat on museum's board of trustees

Tacoma News TribuneFebruary 27, 2014 

The Tacoma Art Museum exceeded its $15.5 million fundraising goal for its new addition, its director announced Wednesday.

During a ceremony to install the last beam -- known by craftspeople as a "topping off" ceremony -- director Stephanie Stebich told the dozens in attendance that such fundraising success shouldn't discourage them from continuing to give.

"Feel free to write a second check," she said, and was greeted with warm laughter.

The museum broke ground in September on an expansion and renovation to house the private art collection of German billionaire Erivan Haub and his wife, Helga. The Haubs will donate 280 works of art that have been in their private collection, as well as fund an endowment. The donation and expansion will add 10 jobs to the museum staff.

One of the Haub's daughters-in-law, Liliane Haub, attended the ceremony Wednesday. She has been deeply involved in the planning, and she was effusive in her gratitude to Tacomans.

"Thank you to the city and the people of Tacoma for being so enthusiastic about the art and the gift," she said, a point she emphasized later in an interview. The Haub family collection is large, and often museums don't have room for ones of its size.

In a sign that the Haubs will continue to be involved in Tacoma, Liliane Haub will take a seat on the museum's board of trustees. She has a background in art curation, as well as being the representative for her family's collection.

"The family's connection to Tacoma will be even stronger" as years go by, Haub said. Her husband spent his childhood summers here. They brought their own children, who now all are young adults. "We're coming out more," she said.

The Haubs also own significant property in downtown, including the Columbia Bank Center.

Laura Fry, the first Haub curator of Western Art, said the first exhibition will be "Northwest in the West: Exploring our Roots" and will open on May 10. The show will answer the question of how Western art is a natural fit for a museum with a Pacific Northwest focus.

The Haub donation already has inspired another donation, Stebich announced. Christopher and Astrid Forbes, friends of the Haubs, have given a piece by John Nieto, whose work is represented in the Haub collection as well. Separately, a family learned of the plans for the Haub collection and donated their collection of 200 books and journals detailing Western art.

Stebich said gifts like the Haubs inspire such chain reactions.

"Transformative gifts inspire other people," she said. "They're watching to see how we handle (the Haub) gift. It will pay dividends far into the future."

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