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Zell Foundation donates $10 million to the Museum of Contemporary Art

'Short Cut,' by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset in front of the MCA in 2007. (Flickr/Andrew Ciscel)

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago announced Wednesday that Helen Zell and her husband Sam Zell, the real estate mogul, of the Zell Family Foundation are donating $10 million to the museum, which will go to the creation of the new Zell Fund for Artistic Excellence. 

"Helen and Sam Zell are visionary philanthropists whose passion and commitment to the arts is beyond measure," said Madeleine Grynsztejn, Director of the MCA, in a statement. "We are extremely grateful for this generous gift which will help support key Vision initiatives to position the MCA as a pre-eminent contemporary art museum. As a Trustee and mentor, Helen has been an inspiring force over the course of the MCA's history, and we have all benefited from her intelligence and guidance."

The donation will go towards starting a new branding campaign, continuing the museum's residency program and starting a new outdoor summer plaza series.

Previously Chair of the MCA Board between 2004 and 2008, and now a board member, Helen Zell has helped MCA Board members raise $20 million, "which eliminated nearly half of the museum's debt incurred from the construction of the new building," according to the MCA.

"Like the MCA itself, I am committed to both sustainability and growth," said Helen Zell. "In the thirty years that I have been involved with the museum, I have never seen it more confident and clear in its direction. I want to help make sure that the museum is on solid financial ground and our Vision is realized."

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