Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Taylors Give $21 Million to Endow St. Louis Art Museum's Leadership

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Taylors Give $21 Million to Endow St. Louis Art Museum's Leadership

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * Two of the region's most prolific donors have given the St. Louis Art Museum its largest single cash gift ever.

Barbara Taylor, former president of the Art Museum board, and husband Andy Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings, donated $21 million to endow the museum's directorship, effective Jan. 1.

The money comes on the heels of $5 million from the Taylors for the museum's new sculpture garden and more than $10 million the couple gave for the museum's new wing.

This donation, however, is focused on funding the museum's top position, currently held by Director Brent Benjamin. The gift will allow the museum a public body whose $30 million dollar budget is two-thirds funded by St. Louis and St. Louis County property tax dollars to spend more on operations, while also head-hunting in the future for top-notch, expensive directors.

"It means the museum can compete in the national and international markets for talent," Benjamin said. "It really makes it possible for the museum to have the person it wants to have in this position."

The cost of hiring the top leaders of U.S. museums has been steadily rising.

Benjamin is poised to make $640,000 in total compensation this year.

Museums across the country have looked to donations to cover the cost. Art museums in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and New York all now have endowed directorships, Benjamin said.

Christine Anagnos, executive director of the Association of Art Museum Directors, called the phenomenon "increasingly common." Still, she said $21 million is a "very large gift."

"It's an extraordinary gift for the museum and the community it serves," she said.

The Taylors, including Andy Taylor's father, Enterprise Rent-A- Car founder Jack Taylor, have been voluminous donors, for a variety of causes, for many years.

Last year, the Taylors donated millions of dollars to the Missouri History Museum's efforts to renovate the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum downtown. …

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