The Philadelphia Museum of Art today officially named the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building (formerly the Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company Building), located at 25th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, just across the street from the Museum's original structure. The dedication ceremony, which took place at the block-long Perelman Building's dramatic entrance on 25th Street, celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Perelman's visionary support and leadership of the Museum. Participating in the ceremony were Michelle Ridge, First Lady of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street, and Robert Montgomery Scott, Honorary Chairman of the Museum. Also in attendance were members of the Museum's Board of Trustees, Chairman's Council, Associates and Corporate Partners, as well as representatives of other cultural and civic institutions.
Mr. Perelman has served the Museum as a Trustee for 25 years, and in 1997 succeeded the late Philip I. Berman as Chairman of the Museum's Board of Trustees. On January 21, 2000, Mr. and Mrs. Perelman announced their unprecedented gift of $15 million to the Museum, which represented the largest unrestricted monetary gift from an individual in the Museum's history.
"Ray and Ruth Perelman have devoted themselves to the Museum for more than 30 years," said Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Their concern, their generosity, and their vision have made a sustained and dramatic contribution to help guide the Museum into this new century. It is wonderfully appropriate that we name in their honor the remarkable landmark building the Museum has now acquired. It is a symbol of new growth, and stands as eloquent testimony to the vital role the Perelmans have played in enabling the Museum to enter a new century with confidence. What could be a better birthday present for the Museum's 125th anniversary in 2001 than the Perelman Building, which will make so many wonderful things possible. We thank them for their magnificent gift."
"Ever since I was a boy, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has represented for me the greatest achievements and highest aspirations of my hometown, a city to which I'm truly devoted. Now, Ruth and I join everyone who loves the Philadelphia Museum of Art in celebrating the realization of a dream: the crucial expansion of the City's world-class art museum into another spectacular building consistent with the Museum's own integrity, beauty, and architectural significance," said Mr. Perelman. "This site, to which we're enormously honored to give our names, will greatly enhance the Museum's ability to sustain and expand its ambitious efforts to create collections, exhibitions and educational programs of distinction to serve the citizens of Philadelphia and an ever-growing regional, national, and international audience."
Tom Ridge, Governor of Pennsylvania, noted, "This is an especially meaningful moment in the long and distinguished cultural history of the City of Philadelphia, and with great enthusiasm I salute Ruth and Ray Perelman for their contributions to Southeastern Pennsylvania's cultural, educational, and economic vitality."
John F. Street, Mayor of Philadelphia, stated, "All Philadelphians know and take pride in the Philadelphia Museum of Art's grand building crowning Fairmount hill at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Now, another distinctive landmark building will find a creative new use as it is incorporated into the Museum's campus. I am delighted to commend Ruth and Ray Perelman for their extraordinary philanthropy."
Mr. and Mrs. Perelman have been key advocates of the Museum's longstanding need for expansion. A Philadelphia native, Mr. Perelman is an industrialist and entrepreneur and, along with his wife Ruth and two sons, Ronald and Jeffrey, has been engaged in philanthropic causes at both the local and national level.
Mr. Perelman has been a Trustee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art since 1975, a Vice-Chairman since 1992. His Trustee responsibilities have included service on the Budget Committee and the Executive Committee.
Ruth and Raymond Perelman were founding members of the Museum Associates in 1969, and were major contributors to the Museum's Landmark Renewal Fund. They are collectors of modern art with particular interest in Aristide Maillol, Pablo Picasso, and Jean Dubuffet. Residents of Center City, Philadelphia, they are active in many civic and community causes.
Rich with style and history, the Perelman building is among the most distinctive architectural structures along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and features one of Philadelphia's most elaborate Art Deco facades. With 100,000 square feet of space on a two-acre site, the former insurance company building is one of the Parkway's hidden treasures and will eventually become a public destination as part of the Museum. Like the Philadelphia Museum of Art's main building, it was designed in the late 1920s by the distinguished Philadelphia architectural firm, Zantzinger, Borie and Medary. The Museum has contracted Vitetta, a Philadelphia-based architectural design firm, to prepare a study for the reuse of the newly acquired building as part of a comprehensive master plan.