Arts & Culture

Tacoma Art Museum smashes into one new wing and celebrates the man who created another

Tacoma Art Museum now has a pair of wings.

At the museum’s north end, a ceremonial breakthrough of the new $10.2 million Rebecca and Jack Benaroya Wing was made by the couple’s sledge hammer-wielding granddaughter, Brooke Benaroya Dickson.

Later in the day, a celebration honoring Erivan Haub was held at the museum on Pacific Avenue. Haub died March 6 at his ranch in Pinedale, Wyoming. He and wife Helga donated the funds to build the Haub Family Galleries in a new wing at the museum’s south end in 2014.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to have these two collections, which are both world class, being given along with the capital to build the building and the endowment to support it,” TAM board president Bill Driscoll said.

The Haubs’ gift has greatly changed TAM’s size and scope, Driscoll said.

“The family’s impact has been substantial,” he said. “It took us in another direction from being strictly northwest to a broader Western focus.”

The Haub wing then influenced other benefactors, like Rebecca Benaroya, said the museum’s executive director, David Setford.


Haub’s son, Christian, and Christian’s wife, Liliane, attended the celebration Thursday. Christian noted his father’s love for Tacoma.

“Tacoma was a really special place for my parents,” he said. “They always felt comfortable here and made this a second home.”

Though Christian Haub speaks with a slight German accent, he and his two brothers were born in Tacoma.

“We would spend a lot of summers here and feel a real connection,” he said.

Liliane Haub said her father-in-law was an avid collector from childhood.

“He would never sell anything. Whatever he collected he had a hard time giving up,” she said. “So, it was a big surprise when he was thinking about donating this collection to the Tacoma Art Museum.”

Christian Haub said his father wanted to give something to Tacoma to “show his ongoing commitment to the community.”

“He felt like he could still come here and, as he called it, ‘Visit his babies,’” he said.

It was only after their purchase of a ranch in Wyoming that the Haubs developed a love for American Western art, Liliane Haub said.

“He loved the storytelling of American Western art,” she said. But, he never purchased any art that showed violence to people or animals.

“He was a kid from the Second World War, and he just didn’t like that,” she said.

Haub’s collection includes legacy artists like Frederic Remington and Georgie O’Keeffe but also living artists.

Veryl Goodnight is one of those. She spoke at the celebration.

The Colorado-based sculptor and painter said the Haubs have been her patrons since the 1990s.

“A patron is a level that is much higher than just a collector,” Goodnight said. “A patron is vital to the artist to have our message out to other people.”

Western art is unique to America, she said. “It tells the story of our country.”

Christian Haub said he visits Tacoma about twice a year, and Liliane Haub serves on TAM’s board.

“This is a community that means something to us,” he said.


Dickson took several whacks at the window that separated the existing museum from the new wing on Thursday, shattering the glass.

“I think it looks wonderful,” Dickson said as she surveyed the space which includes a 44-foot-long window overlooking the Prairie Line Trail and Pacific Avenue. “They’ve made a lot of progress.”

“It’s on time and on budget,” Setford said.

TAM will start the move in to the Benaroya wing in September. It opens to the public Jan. 19.

Seattle philanthropist Rebecca Benaroya provided $9.2 million for the construction of the gallery. She also donated 353 works from her family’s collection of studio glass, paintings and sculptures. The works include pieces by Dale Chihuly, William Morris, Ginny Ruffner and Cappy Thompson.

The Benaroya Wing will display both the collection and art from TAM’s permanent collection, Setford said.

Benaroya also provided an endowment for the care of the collection and a dedicated curator.

The new wing was designed by Seattle architect Olson Kundig, who also designed the museum’s Haub Family Galleries.

The roughly 7,000-square-foot Benaroya addition will add about 4,550 square feet of gallery space.

While the museum’s footprint is filled out, the museum could go up in the future, Setford said.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor