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After abortive wrangles with regulators in San Francisco and Chicago, it was decided that the museum will be built in Los Angeles, at a site near 100 public schools, the University of Southern California, the Coliseum, and three other major museums, to encourage public access.
Museum director Lonnie Bunch believed “it was important to show average people owned this project,” so to complement these large gifts the museum carried out a broad grassroots fundraising campaign.
(At that point the museum expanded its fundraising goal from the original to 5 million, which will allow its endowment to be doubled at the same time the new campus is created.) “When I was young, I was dragged there,” explained Gundlach, who grew up in Buffalo and now lives in Los Angeles, so “I’ve always had a belief in and fondness for the Albright-Knox.” In addition to loyalty, his decision to give to his hometown was based on a desire for effect.
“I tend to do things not with teaspoons, but to try to make a difference.” If he had donated million to New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gundlach suggested, “you wouldn’t be able to find it with a microscope.” Instead, this donor allowed a grand expansion of a great museum to be fully funded before its managers even expected to start their fundraising.
The latest in the ever-expanding empire of federal museums on the Washington, D.
C., mall—the National Museum of African American History and Culture—opened in 2016.