Chicago’s National Museum of Mexican Art gets $8 million from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

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The National Museum of Mexican Art announced late Tuesday that it had received a donation of $8 million, the largest single gift in the Pilsen museum’s 39-year history.

The unrestricted money came from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and her husband Dan Jewett as part of their well-publicized donations of $2.74 billion, given to hundreds of organizations their charity team identified as equity-oriented, nonprofit projects working in areas that have been neglected. The gifts also included $40 million to UIC.

“Arts and cultural institutions can strengthen communities by transforming spaces, fostering empathy, reflecting community identity, advancing economic mobility, improving academic outcomes, lowering crime rates, and improving mental health,” Scott said in a blog post.

In the Tuesday announcement, museum founder Carlos Tortolero called the gift transformational for the museum. “This generous gift will have a lasting and transformative impact on our organization and the community we serve,” he said in a statement.

The National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 W 19th St.) will reopen to the public July 1, welcoming back visitors for the first time since closing for the COVID-19 pandemic in March more than a year ago. Both the museum and its popular gift shop will resume regular hours and the museum’s customary free admission.

In May 2019, around the time of her divorce from former husband and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Scott joined the Giving Pledge, a campaign created by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Melinda Gates that encourages wealthy people to contribute to philanthropic causes.

dgeorge@chicagotribune.com

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