The Philadelphia Museum of Art announced today a $10 million gift from Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest. Mr. Lenfest is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Lenfest Group, based in West Chester, PA. He has been a Museum Trustee since 1993. One of the largest monetary contributions from an individual or couple in the Museum's history, it benefits the Museum's new capital campaign, enabling the institution to increase its endowment and expand its physical facilities. The Lenfests have been key advocates of the Museum's endowment and comprehensive expansion initiative.
Raymond G. Perelman, Chairman of the Museum's Board of Trustees, said: "The Lenfests' gift is enormously invigorating and well timed as we launch the 2001 FUND, an unprecedented capital campaign. Not only is it an act of great generosity, it represents the kind of leadership and vision we urgently need to ensure our future. Their gift is unrestricted, which enables the Museum to plan creatively, and to meet the growing financial challenges that accompany the promise of the Museum's dynamic programs and growth."
Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, added: "As we begin to celebrate the Museum's 125th birthday in 2001, we are thrilled to receive this generous gift. The Lenfests are passionate supporters of an impressive array of cultural, educational and civic causes, and we are enormously grateful for their deep commitment to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We have ambitious plans to serve our public and our collections in the 21st century, and such enlightened support brings us closer to our goals for education, conservation, scholarship, technology, and expansion into the nearby Perelman building with state-of-the-art galleries and public services."
Mr. Lenfest said: "The contributions of the Museum to the cultural life of the city, the region, and to the field of art place it among the great art institutions of the world. And yet the Museum's endowment is modest compared to the wonderful difference the Museum makes to art lovers, to schoolchildren, to tourism and to the pride we take in our region. Marguerite and I are delighted to contribute, and hope that others will follow to make certain that the Museum's next 125 years are as dynamic as the first."
Mr. Lenfest's activities as a Museum Trustee have included service on the Executive and American Art committees. He is Co-Chair, along with Kathleen C. Sherrerd and Berton E. Korman, of the 125th Anniversary Campaign-2001 FUND. Mr. and Mrs. Lenfest were significant contributors to the Museum's previous capital campaign, the Landmark Renewal Fund. They are also insightful collectors with particular interest in the Pennsylvania Impressionist school associated with Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Mr. Lenfest graduated from The Mercersburg Academy, Mercersburg, PA, in 1949, before attending Washington and Lee University and Columbia Law School. He began his career practicing law with the New York firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell, and moved to the Philadelphia area in 1965 to become associate counsel for Triangle Publications, owned by Walter Annenberg, which operated television, radio stations, magazines and newspapers. In 1974, he purchased Triangle's Lebanon Valley Cable TV with 7600 subscribers and Suburban Cable TV. Over the next 25 years, Mr.Lenfest and his wife, Marguerite, who also worked in the business, built Suburban into one of the top nine cable television companies in the United States, with operations in California, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. In January 2000, Mr. Lenfest and AT&T Corporation, which owned a 50%, non-controlling interest in Suburban Cable, sold the company to Comcast Corporation of Philadelphia. Presently, the Lenfest Group includes Starnet, CAM Systems, and TeleStar, which are involved in satellite distribution of cable advertising and marketing, software for the management thereof, and telemarketing. Residents of Huntington Valley, PA, the couple recently created the Lenfest Foundation for philanthropic giving.
Mr. Lenfest has served as a Trustee of Washington and Lee University; the Board of Regents of The Mercersburg Academy; and the Board of Visitors of Columbia University Law School. He is a member of the Board of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and of the James Madison Council, Library of Congress. In 1999, the Lenfests announced their gift of Bucks County Impressionist paintings along with endowment funds to the James A. Michener Museum in Doylestown, PA. They have also made recent monetary gifts to The Mercersburg Academy, Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA, and Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA.