The High Museum of Art has received gifts totaling almost $4 million in support of its photography programs and collection, which currently holds 5,400 prints. Announced yesterday, April 22, the gifts come from a number of sources, including $2 million, the largest, from Donald Keough, a High board member and former president and COO of the Coca-Cola Company, and his wife Marilyn Keough. Those funds will endow a permanent curatorial position in photography and support ongoing programs and acquisitions. The curatorial position held since 2011 by Brett Abbott, who was instrumental in coordinating the donations, will be named for the couple.
Other major donors include Atlanta artist and photographer Lucinda W. Bunnen, who gave an undisclosed amount to support the first dedicated photography gallery in the permanent collection space. Paul Hagedorn has given $500,000 to support and endow photography acquisitions. A gift of $400,000 from the Yellowlees Family is designated for the High’s collection of Southern photography.
In a press statement, High Museum director Michael Shapiro says: “Photography is our fastest growing area of collecting, research and programming, and these gifts will ensure that the High can continue our commitment to new scholarship and commissioning new works by living artists. We hope that these significant gifts inspire others to support our photography programs and the growth of our collection.”
Abbott says: “To have so many leaders in our community come together simultaneously to support the important work that we’ve been doing is immensely gratifying.”
The current group of High donors have been longtime supporters of the High. The Keoughs have so far given the museum about $4 million to date, including support for the 2005 expansion. Paul Hagedorn, an artist and owner of Hagedorn Foundation Gallery, has helped back the High’s “Picturing the South” series and other programs, and the Yellowlees Family has helped build collections of work by Harry Callahan and Peter Sekaer. (Robert Yellowlees, the retired chair of Global Payments and NDCHealth, has served on the boards of the Centers for Disease Control, the Woodruff Arts Center, the High Museum of Art and the Aperture Foundation, and is the founder of Atlanta’s Lumière Gallery.)
Bunnen has made donations to the High over three decades, most notably in the form of over 650 works by such artists as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Chuck Close, Emmet Gowin, Clarence John Laughlin, Frederick Sommer and Cindy Sherman. Last year, the museum presented “The Bunnen Collection of Photography,” which also included Bunnen’s own photography.