Sheakleys push art museum to $65M

The Cincinnati Art Museum has surpassed raising $65 million for its “A New View” campaign, the most ambitious fundraising effort in the museum’s 141-year history.

“The Cincinnati Art Museum is indispensable to what makes our unique region a vibrant place to work, to live, to play and to learn,” said Cameron Kitchin, the museum’s Louis and Louise Dieterle Nippert Director. “Our job, each day, is to make art accessible to every member of our community. Thanks to these incredible gifts, we can be what Cincinnati has asked of its art museum: innovative, intentional, visible and interwoven into civic life.” 

Andrew DeWitt, Amy Hanson, Rhonda Sheakley, Larry Sheakley and Murray Sinclaire present at the Cincinnati Art Museum’s “A New View” celebration on Oct. 27.

The “New View” supports three key priorities in the museum’s recent community-sourced strategic plan: visitor experience and scholarship, community impact and outreach and organizational excellence. The campaign entered its public fundraising phase in September 2021. The campaign will remain open as the museum continues to fundraise to support projects and programs.

Andrew DeWitt, Amy Hanson and Murray Sinclaire lead the campaign as co-chairs, with honorary chairs Marty and Nick Ragland and Kitty and Dick Rosenthal. 

“What made me excited about this campaign is that it is all about taking the Art Museum and turning it outwards to embrace our community – all of our community,” said Hanson. “We want to be that place where all feel welcomed and like they belong. We are adding community services and opening up the museum’s grounds in a way that is really transformative. This is truly ‘A New View’ of the Cincinnati Art Museum, and I am proud to be a part of this team effort.”

Campaign cabinet members included Susie Castellini, Manuel Chavez, Rance Duke, Polk Laffoon IV, Sherie Marek, Jon Moeller, Andrew Quinn, George Vincent, Phil Vollmer and Barbara Weyand.

Procter & Gamble’s leadership gift – given early in the campaign – made possible the museum’s Art Climb, completed in May 2020 and connecting the museum to surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, an anonymous lead gift launched the campaign’s endowment raise. Cincinnati Development Fund’s investment followed shortly thereafter to support the campaign’s connection to the Walnut Hills neighborhood. Larry and Rhonda Sheakley’s new gift pushed the campaign over the $65 million mark. To honor the Sheakleys, the museum will rename its Cincinnati Wing in their honor.

“Art is a vital part of a thriving, vibrant community, and I am proud that Rhonda and I could help position the Cincinnati Art Museum for success in demonstrating the power of art to both current and new audiences,” said Sheakley. “I look forward to seeing how the museum charts new territory as it forges ahead.” 

In addition to Procter & Gamble and the Sheakleys, important campaign donors include: the Wyler Family Foundation; Western & Southern Financial Group; Marnick Foundation; Jacob G. Schmidlapp Trusts, Fifth Third Bank Trustee; the state of Ohio; and The Carl M. Jacobs Foundation.

This milestone positions the museum to complete several upcoming projects, including the creation of long desired space for school groups and public programs to be named in honor of a major gift from the Sherie Marek Family; a universal Cincinnati 4th-grade program for arts education, a research center for photography, prints and drawings named for the Carl M. Jacobs Foundation; and new support for the museum’s commitment to institutional diversity and inclusion to inspire and connect Cincinnati.

Several projects that “A New View” funded already are complete, including the Art Climb; the outdoor addition of the Jaume Plensa statue, “Isabella,” which welcomes visitors driving up the main entrance and made possible by Craig and Anne Maier; the Wyler Family Entrance, serving as the museum’s new front drive and made possible by the Wyler Family Foundation; and the renovations of the Hanna Wing and the Anu & Shekhar Mitra Gallery.

Free general admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum is made possible by a gift from the Rosenthal Family Foundation. Parking at the museum is free.