$28 Million Donation Opens Doors For Art Students at Chazen Museum

Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd

Contributing to art education does not always necessarily mean teaching it. Jerome and Simona Chazen, alumni from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, are purveyors and practitioners of this philosophy. The Chazen’s found success after Jerome Chazen founded the successful fashion company Liz Claiborne. Funds from Liz Claiborne allowed Chazen to diversify and found Chazen Capital Partners. Between the two, the Chazen family has amassed a massive fortune, and they have used that fortune for the good of art education.

“My wife and I are avid lifelong arts enthusiasts and art education advocates,” Chazen said, discussing a donation he made to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s former Elvehjem Museum of Art. The institute was renamed the Chazen Museum of Art after the Chazen’s committed $20 million in support of an expansion to the museum. The museum is now a pillar of the University of Wisconsin educational experience and the second largest art museum in the state.

Furthermore, at an alumni event last Thursday, the Chazen’s announced a $28 million gift to their old school in the form of several pieces from their personal collection. This, coupled with another $5 million towards care for the Chazen museum building and a $3 million dollar grant towards the art education program at the University of Wisconsin, adds up to over $50 million in charitable donations to art from the Chazen’s.

“We have a shared vision for the Chazen Museum of Art to become a world class museum, a beacon for art lovers in Madison, across the state of Wisconsin, and in the bigger picture arts landscape.” said Simone Chazen, who currently sits on the advisory council for the museum alongside her husband. Large or small, contributions made by art lovers of all kinds can have a long lasting impact on art education.