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Eskenazi Museum of Art Receives $4 Million Gift

Above: The Eskenazi Museum of Art. Photo: Indiana University.
Above: The Eskenazi Museum of Art. Photo: Indiana University.

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA—The estate of Jane Fortune, the champion of women artists who passed away last fall, has gifted the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University a collection of sixty-one artworks and enough funds to launch the Jane Fortune Endowment for Women Artists. In recognition of the donation, which is valued at $4 million, the museum will rename the first-floor of its gallery for American and European Art from Medieval to 1900 after the philanthropist.

An Indianapolis native, Fortune was a scholar and collector whose commitment to supporting female artists was recognized worldwide. She founded the Florence, Italy-based nonprofit Advancing Women Artists Inc., which was dedicated to researching, restoring, and exhibiting artwork of female artists, and served on the board of directors for various institutions, including the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She was also a member of the national advisory board of the Eskenazi Museum of Art.

Fortune’s gift includes a rare drawing by Florentine artist Sister Plautella Nelli; a cyanotype photograph by the nineteenth-century British photographer Anna Atkins; and a wall-mounted work by Ghanaian-born artist El Anatsui, the first work by the artist to enter the museum’s collection. Before she died, Fortune was working on building a research database of international female artists in collaboration with Indiana University and the Eskenazi Museum of Art, called “A Space of their Own.”

“Jane’s passion and dedication to the arts, especially the under-recognized achievements of women artists, will live on at Indiana University through the seeds that she has planted with her generous gifts,” museum director David A. Brenneman said in a statement. “The Eskenazi Museum of Art is extremely proud to be handed Jane’s torch and to continue Jane’s mission into the future.”

June 27, 2019