Philanthropist Bonnie Ann Larson Donates $5 Million to Detroit Institute of Arts

  • DETROIT, Michigan
  • /
  • September 21, 2017

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Detroit Institute of Arts

Bonnie Ann Larson, a Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) board member and longtime supporter of the museum, has made a $5 million donation to the DIA’s operating endowment. In recognition of her gift, the DIA has established the Bonnie Ann Larson Modern European Masters Series, an initiative that will support the study and exhibition of the DIA’s modern European collection (1850–1950), which includes masterpieces by Van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir and Monet, among others.

Larson was elected to the DIA’s board in 2004 but has been involved with the museum since the 1980s. At that time, a friend asked her to join the auxiliary group Founders Junior Council. When Larson arrived at the DIA for her first meeting, she says, “I was standing in the Great Hall and taken aback not only by the beauty of what I saw before me, but the emotion it evoked from within me. And that was the beginning. Since that day, that moment, I have been dedicated to bringing that experience to as many others as I can.”

Great Hall, DIA

Larson has been a member of 11 different auxiliary support groups and served on several of their boards. Her role as a trained, volunteer tour guide (or docent) for students and adults was particularly rewarding, providing the opportunity for her to share her love and knowledge of the DIA collection with others. She has also contributed to the success of DIA fundraisers over the years, such as the annual gala. She served as co-chair for the 2011 gala, which raised more than $1 million for the museum.

“Bonnie’s generosity and leadership as a board member and longtime volunteer serve as an inspiration to everyone who cherishes the DIA,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA director. “She loves our art collection, understands its benefits for our society and knows how crucial it is to build an operating endowment, which will ensure that the DIA will continue serving future generations.”

In recognition of her many years of service and generous support, Larson was given a Lifetime Service Award in 2014. She and her late husband, Robert, supported major fundraising campaigns over the years and have a gallery of European modern art named in their honor.

“Bonnie has been one of our most passionate and dedicated volunteers for almost 40 years,” said Eugene A. Gargaro Jr., DIA board chair. “She is tireless in her commitment to ensuring the DIA’s success, whether serving on our board, volunteering on board committees or giving generously to the museum’s endowment. We are very grateful for her leadership gift.”

Larson says, “I want to help ensure that we never lose sight of the DIA’s magical power to enrich the minds and hearts of anyone who might find their way through these doors."

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