A gift of $11.75 million to the Cincinnati Art Museum – to establish the Alice Bimel Endowment for Asian Art – was announced at the museum’s 137th Annual Meeting of the Shareholders of the Cincinnati Museum Association on May 15. This is the largest single monetary gift in the museum’s history and will enhance collections of the arts from South Asia, Greater Iran and Afghanistan.
Throughout their lifetimes, Alice and Carl Bimel developed a fascination with South Asian art of all periods, which led to an interest in the regions of Greater Iran and Afghanistan. In total, the Bimels have donated more than $14 million, in addition to significant collection objects, to the museum.
“The opportunity to build an ambitious collection in the public museum today is rare. Alice and Carl Bimel have made that possible for Cincinnati. With this endowment, we can create an exceptional collection, one that represents the vibrancy and vitality prevalent in the arts of the region, from both the historic period and the contemporary,” said Dr. Ainsley Cameron, the newly appointed curator of South Asian Art, Islamic Art and Antiquities.
Alice, who passed away in 2008, and her husband Carl, who passed away in 2013, were longtime supporters of the museum – and have left a legacy of philanthropy. Alice was a Cincinnati Art Museum volunteer for more than 40 years, and was a member of the first docent class in 1960. In 1972, she was the first woman named to the museum’s board of trustees. She also was one of the principal volunteers assisting with the museum’s fundraising efforts before the museum’s development department was established in the fall of 1981. Two years before her death, Alice was awarded the Cincinnati Art Museum’s George Rieveschl Medal for Distinguished Service.
The Bimels traveled extensively throughout Asia. They collected miniature paintings and other South Asian works of art that are now in the museum’s permanent collection, and also provided support for the purchase of acquisitions in other regions represented in the museum’s Asian collections.