The Making of a Masterpiece

Over the past decade, the Museum of Fine Arts has raised more than $500 million as part of an ambitious plan to reinvent itself. This month, the public finally gets to see what a half-billion dollars gets you these days.

In just seven years, the MFA raised an unprecedented (and jaw-dropping) amount of money for its “Building the New MFA” campaign. Where all that cash came from — and where it went.

$504 million was raised from 2001 to 2008.
$41 million of the total donations came from foundations.
$35 million from corporations.
$11 million from government grants.
$2.1 million from museum staff.
$415 million from individuals. Two thirds, or $268 million, of the $415 million came from just 92 people, the MFA’s trustees.

$345 million went to construction (including the new Arts of the Americas Wing, the restored Fenway and Huntington Avenue entrances, and an expansive central courtyard that boasts a 63-foot-high glass ceiling).
$47 million to annual operating expenses (including staff payroll, maintenance, and programming).
$112 million to the museum’s endowment.
But that’s not all… $214 million more in art and cash has been donated through the separate (and ongoing) Gifts of Art campaign.

$50 million came from a single anonymous donor.
$25 million (at least) each from individual donations by George D. and Margo Behrakis, Joyce and Edward Linde, and the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation.
$15 million from Bank of America, which earned the company naming rights to the MFA’s Huntington Avenue plaza.
$10 million (at least) each from individual donations by Barbara and Ted Alfond, the Estate of Roberta E. Logie, and two anonymous donors.
$10 million from a donation by State Street Corporation, which earned the company naming rights to the MFA’s Fenway entrance.
$5 million from the Calderwood Charitable Foundation.

  • Jeannie

    Dear Mr. Baker,
    Great article on the “new” MFA! However, it should be noted that the George Putnam who founded Putnam Investments was not married to Amelia Earhart. Earhart’s widower was George Palmer Putnam of Rye, NY, publisher of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, NYC.