On Nov. 3, the University of Arizona announced a historic capital campaign, Fuel Wonder, the largest campaign in university history. Building a new University of Arizona Museum of Art is one of the campaign’s Presidential Priorities.
Through the transformative experience of first-hand encounters with original works of art, university art museums are places of discovery, wonder, and enjoyment. University art museums catalyze new research, foster interdisciplinary experimentation, and provide innovative opportunities for teaching and learning across all disciplines.
Beyond their core campus constituencies, university art museums are ‘anchor’ institutions in their communities. They offer formal and informal learning opportunities for all, create a sense of belonging and civic engagement, and contribute to economic growth and social wellbeing.
Our goal is simple yet powerful
A new, state-of-the-art museum to serve as a vibrant hub for teaching and learning, research and innovation, and community engagement in and through the visual arts.
A new University of Arizona Museum of Art for campus and community
Located in its current facility since the mid-1950s, the University of Arizona Museum of Art (UAMA) has been a critical campus and community asset for generations of Wildcats and Tucsonans. A new landmark building in a highly visible campus location will amplify the impact of the museum and the arts across the university, act as a gateway connecting campus and community, and increase the university’s national and international reputation in the domain of arts and culture.
In practical terms, the new facility will address critical shortcomings regarding exhibition space, collection care and storage, accessibility, visitor services, security, and will provide mission-critical classrooms and flexible spaces for public programming and events.
The impact of these improvements will be transformative. We’ll be able to better showcase our significant collection in new, dynamic ways; integrate art and artist’s archives into university curriculum; innovate care and storage to manage our collection more efficiently and how it’s accessed; and create a true public home for the artistic community to enjoy, appreciate, and learn from some of the world’s foremost artists.
Looking to the Future:
Expanded Exhibitions and Programming
The UAMA stewards one of the finest university art collections in the country, with strong holdings in 14th-through 19th-century European art (the Kress Collection), an outstanding collection of American and European modernism (the Pfeiffer and Gallagher Collections), significant works by contemporary artists, and an important and growing collection of artist archives (Archive of Visual Arts). The new museum will provide state-of-the-art facilities for the management, care, and exhibition of these holdings.
In addition, we envision a significant increase in our temporary exhibition program, particularly around topics of interest to the university and our region, including health and wellness, environment and sustainability, social justice, and emerging technologies.
In realizing this future, we will build on the success of recent exhibitions including “Restored: The Return of Woman-Ochre” and “The Art of Food: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation.” These exhibitions provide a road-map for how we will engage with students and faculty by forging new partnerships with departments across campus as well as with the Tucson community.
The new UAMA will include classrooms and flexible spaces for public programming and events, transforming the nature and scope of educational and community engagement opportunities within the museum and creating a vital creative hub for campus.
Where will the museum be located?
The anticipated location is a highly visible site on the north side of Speedway Boulevard, one of Tucson’s main east/west thoroughfares. Located between the Highland Underpass and Vine Avenue, the new 50,000-square-foot museum will be close to the historical heart of campus. It also will be a short walk from the Arts District along Olive Road.
Public parking is just a block away in the Highland Garage, and the nearby Sun Link Streetcar provides easy access via public transportation. The site includes a drop-off location to increase convenience and provide access for school groups and others.
Neighboring the nationally recognized University of Arizona Poetry Center, the new Applied Research Building, the BIO5 Institute, and the new Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, this planned site creates adjacencies that will facilitate exciting partnerships around STEAM as well as arts and wellness.
How much will it cost? How will it be financed? How long will it take?
The anticipated total construction cost for the new facility is $50 million — this estimate is based on our preliminary work with the Oregon based architectural firm, Allied Works, benchmarking against new university museum projects across the country and in consultation with the University’s Office of Planning, Design and Construction.
Recognizing the importance of this project and the impact arts have across campus, the University has committed $25 million of the needed $50 million construction costs. The remainder will be raised through philanthropy. Groundbreaking is anticipated in 2025, and construction will last approximately 18 months.
The new museum will provide bold and exciting exhibitions and programs. To sustain the highest level of excellence and impact, the annual operating budget will need to increase from $1 million to approximately $2 million. This analysis is based on an operational feasibility study commissioned from AEA Consulting (completed in March 2023).
It is envisioned that half of the $2 million annual operating budget will come from university sources and the other half generated through admission and rental fees, corporate partnerships, and philanthropy.
In addition to raising the remaining $25 million needed to complete construction, we have set an ambitious goal of raising an additional $10 million to create operating endowments that will provide an annual source of funding for the museum in perpetuity and ensure the museum’s continued impact for generations to come. Our total philanthropic goal to bring this initiative to reality is $35 million.
“A university art museum is not an auxiliary function. The vision for the new home of the UAMA is to create a facility that significantly impacts our ability to deliver on our core mission of teaching, research, and engagement.”
– Andy Schulz, Vice President for the Arts, Arizona Arts
“For seven decades, UAMA has served as an important site for inquiry, curiosity, and research. The time has come for a new, state-of-the-art building that is commensurate with the UAMA’s stellar art collection, its educational programs, and the University of Arizona’s commitment to academic excellence. I hope you will join us in transforming this vision into reality.”
– UAMA Director Olivia Miller (BA ’05, Studio Art and Art History)
UAMA and the FUEL WONDER campaign
Philanthropic support for UAMA is an important part of the Fuel Wonder campaign, the most ambitious fundraising effort in the university’s history. Fuel Wonder aims to empower key priorities and initiatives outlined in the university’s strategic plan, including the goal to make the University of Arizona a premier arts destination.
Through the Fuel Wonder’s “Front Porch” priority, the university will elevate the experiences that draw visitors to campus and contribute to the rich cultural fabric of Southern Arizona. As a Presidential Priority, a new UAMA is a key piece to this objective and will help bring the community to campus for educational and inspiring interactions with the arts. By making a gift to UAMA you are fueling wonder for all those who benefit from the UAMA’s collections and spaces.
“The university’s strategic plan calls for making the University of Arizona an arts destination and ensuring that all students, regardless of major, have meaningful experiences in the arts,” said University President Dr. Robert C. Robbins. “A new state-of-the-art facility for the UAMA is essential in making this vision a reality.”
An Opportunity for Partnership
University art museums are not an auxiliary – they are essential in delivering the core mission of teaching, research, and engagement. This is particularly true at the University of Arizona as a premier research intensive, public land-grant university.
With the largest financial investment in the arts in decades, the university is demonstrating the value it places on the transformative power of art.
We look forward to your partnership as we work together to bring this exciting vision to life.