Hated Koch Family Makes $10.5 Million Donation to Obscure Wichita Art Center

Charles Koch. Photo: Bo Rader, courtesy Wichita Eagle/MCT.
Charles Koch. Photo: Bo Rader, courtesy Wichita Eagle/MCT.
A rendering of the new Wichita Center for the Arts.

A rendering of the new Wichita Center for the Arts.

The Wichita Center for the Arts just got a major windfall: $10.5 million in land and money, courtesy two Koch family foundations. The donation will be used to build a new 38,000-square-foot facility with an exhibition gallery, an events center, and arts education area.

The late Koch matriarch, Mary Koch, herself an artist, was a longtime supporter of the center, which was founded in 1920. “She was so passionate about it,” her daughter-in-law, Liz Koch, told the Wichita Eagle.

Liz’s husband Charles is an uber-wealthy Koch brother. (The family’s money comes from the oil manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries, founded by Mary’s late husband, Fred Koch.)

Charles Koch. Photo: Bo Rader, courtesy <em>Wichita Eagle</em>/MCT.

Charles Koch.
Photo: Bo Rader, courtesy Wichita Eagle/MCT.

In addition to the donations from the Charles Koch Foundation and the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, the center will need to raise a projected $8 million through a capital campaign to complete the project. Construction will break ground late next year, with a targeted completion date of 2017 or 2018.

The museum is currently showing the 70th annual Wichita National All Media Craft Exhibition.

Major cultural institutions have been widely criticized for accepting money from the Koch brothers. Demonstrators protested during this past year’s dedication of the Koch Plaza at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, illuminating the facade with slogans like “The Met: Brought to you by the Tea Party” and “Koch = Climate Chaos.”

Both the Smithsonian Institution and the American Museum of Natural History in New York have been petititioned to stop accepting Koch money. At the latter, the National Museum of Natural History‘s David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins has been accused of presenting climate change as naturally occurring.

A rendering of the new Wichita Center for the Arts.

A rendering of the new Wichita Center for the Arts.

Liz Koch, however, isn’t concerning herself with how the donation is perceived. “If I worried about what everybody thought, I’d be dead by now,” she told the Wichita Eagle“There’s always naysayers, but absolutely no one’s going to burst my bubble on this one.”

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