Columbus State University’s Bo Bartlett Center, which will feature the acclaimed artist’s work when it opens next year in his hometown, has received a major gift from the family foundation of a late U.S. ambassador and media mogul.
The Annenberg Foundation of Los Angeles has gifted $50,000 to the Bartlett Center, which will use the money to “support outreach efforts such as our visits to local public schools, homeless shelters and community lectures,” David Houston, the center’s executive director and chief curator, said in CSU’s news release. “This donation helps us with our goal of collaborating with leading institutions around the country to provide artistic community projects that make an impact.”
Walter Annenberg served as ambassador to Britain from 1969-74. He was president and subsequently chairman of Triangle Publications, which included TV Guide, Seventeen magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, as well as TV and radio stations nationwide. The foundation was established in 1989 with $1.2 billion, one-third of the assets from the company’s sale. Annenberg died in 2002 at 94.
Annenberg was a big supporter of education. He founded the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California in 1971. The foundation made one of the largest gifts in philanthropic history in 1998, when the $500 million Annenberg Challenge for School Reform attracted more than $600 million in matching grants.
He and his wife, Leonore, also were great supporters of the arts, making major gifts to museums and orchestras. Their collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The connection to Bartlett dates back to the early 1990s, when Bartlett painted Annenberg’s portrait.
“Bo is a master of portraiture — from politicians to composers to everyday people,” Houston said. “When he completes a portrait like the one he did for Ambassador Annenberg, his work has a special magic to it.”
Now, the philanthropist’s legacy will help the artist’s mission as the center’s first major donation from outside Georgia.
“This gift expands our already strong local and regional support to the national level,” Houston said. “This reflects the center’s mission as a national art institution with a strong impact on the local community.”
The Bo Bartlett Center will comprise 18,425 square feet on the second floor of the Corn Center for the Visual Arts, 921 Front Ave., on CSU’s RiverPark campus in downtown Columbus. It will contain more than 300 of Bartlett’s paintings and drawings, along with his complete archive of journals, sketchbooks, photographs and other memorabilia, according to the release.