Foundation to transfer full ownership of Suida-Manning collection to Blanton in 2016

Alexa Ura

Created solely to acquire the $33 million Suida-Manning Art Collection for the Blanton Museum of Art in 1998, the UT Fine Arts Foundation is paying off the remaining balance on the collection and is expected to transfer full ownership to the museum by 2016.

The UT Fine Arts Foundation is one of several nonprofits that manage gifts to the University. UT President William Powers Jr. appointed University administrators to lead the UT Fine Arts Foundation, but most external foundations, including the School of Law Foundation, are governed by an independent board. 

The independent boards often include University employees, but most are not appointed by the University. 

The University holds the collection through a lease agreement with the foundation, and it is housed and displayed at the Blanton Museum. The foundation is still paying off the collection in quarterly payments. UT pays the foundation every three months for a larger ownership of the collection, which the foundation uses toward the acquisition, according to Patricia Ohlendorf, the University’s vice president for legal affairs and president of the foundation.

“These transactions will be finalized in April 2016, at which time UT will own the full collection and the need for the Foundation will cease,” Ohlendorf said in an email.

The entire process required approval by the UT System Board of Regents. Unlike other external foundations, the UT Fine Arts Foundation no longer raises funds because it was not set up to continuously fundraise for the University. As a nonprofit, the foundation could legally accept gifts, though tax documents filed by the foundation show no new contributions in recent years. 

The Suida-Manning Art Collection is comprised of almost 250 European paintings, 400 drawings and 20 sculptures from the 1300s to the 1700s. Wilhelm Suida and his daughter Bertina Manning assembled the collection, and Manning’s daughter was essential in the acquisition of the collection for UT. Alessandra Manning Dolnier and her husband donated a part of the collection along with $5 million from four anonymous supporters, according to a 1999 Blanton press release.

The permanent exhibition displays 50 works of art in the Blanton Museum.

“[The collection] is used for teaching, research, display and special programming, all within the mission and public purposes of UT and the foundation,” Ohlendorf said.

Even though the foundation’s mission statement lists the College of Fine Arts as a benefactor, the college does not benefit from the foundation, fine arts Dean Doug Dempster said through a spokesperson. Dempster is the foundation’s vice president and secretary.

Blanton Museum spokeswoman Kathleen Stimpert said acquiring the collection was significant for the museum and the University.

“It brought to campus one of the nation’s preeminent collections of Renaissance and Baroque art, providing new opportunities for research and scholarship, and a chance for UT students, faculty and staff to engage with masterworks not available anywhere else in Austin.”

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