Is Leon Black the Mystery Man Behind $10 Million Gift to Dartmouth’s Hood Museum?

The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth received an anonymous $10 million donation. The gift, which will be put towards building the centerpiece of the two-year renovation and expansion project:  a new Museum Learning Center.

The renovation project, helmed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects—designers of the American Folk Art Museum building and the new Barnes Foundation—is part of Dartmouth’s aim of beefing up its campus arts district. The expansion will increase the museum’s current 39,000-square-foot space by 15,000 square feet, giving it more room to show off the museum’s collection, which touts some 65,000 objects including paintings by Perugino, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Rockwell Kent, along with a collection of Assyrian stone reliefs. The expansion will also add three classrooms for the use of digital technology.

“The Hood Museum of Art is a model teaching museum, and the Museum Learning Center will expand its capacity to transform student lives,” Dartmouth president Philip Hanlon said in a statement. “We’re deeply grateful for this donor’s inspired commitment to Dartmouth students and the arts.”

As for that donor, we can’t help but think of financier and Dartmouth alum Leon Black, who has made some of the most high-profile donations to the Dartmouth arts district in recent years. In 2012 he and his wife Debra donated $48 million to the visual arts center, which was subsequently named after the Black family and later that year commissioned a site-specific work by Ellsworth Kelly, Dartmouth Panels, on the facade of the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Black is also no stranger to spending big bucks, however anonymously, on the arts. He is said to have been the buyer behind the record-breaking $120 million purchase at Sotheby‘s in 2012 of Edvard Munch’s pastel The Scream. As with that transaction, perhaps time will reveal the mystery donor behind the Hood Museum’s new wing.

Whoever that person is, the museum’s patrons and the Hood’s Board of Overseers have, with this gift, topped off a total of $28 million thus far committed to their $50 million end goal for the project. Not too shabby.


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