The Aspen Art Museum (AAM) will soon begin construction on its new Shigeru Ban-designed building in the city’s downtown, expanding from 10,000 to 30,000 square feet. As the building’s footprint expands, the institution’s public presence is expanding as well — the AAM has just scored a $1.5 million gift from Allen and Kelli Questrom to establish the Questrom Education Fund.
The new funding will bolster support for the AAM’s existing programs as well as expand the institution’s educational offerings, including reaching out to underserved populations, working with local schools, and providing free museum tours for students and educators. “Art museums are essential environments for learning… not just painting and drawing but, more importantly, how to think creatively and to apply one's latent talent to any vocation or occupation,” Kelli Questrom said in a statement.
The Questroms are among the AAM's key supporters. Back in 2008, the couple — he is a corporate executive with a long history of turning around retailers like Barneys and J.C. Pennys — donated $1 million to AAM to establish the Questrom Lecture Series, which gives the public an opportunity to interact with the international group of visiting artists, scholars, curators, and critics that the museum brings to Colorado. Recent lectures have included appearances by artists Slater Bradley, Huma Bhabha, and Mark Grotjahn.
When it finally debuts, the Aspen Art Museum’s new building will feature a woven wooden screen façade, a glassed-in grand staircase, and a roof-deck sculpture garden. The museum is still working on the capital campaign for the new building, having raised $47 million out of a $50-million capital campaign to fund the expansion — but the new gift initiatives certainly helps it secure a place at the center of public discussion.