Kennesaw State receives $1 million grant for new art museum

The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation in Atlanta recently awarded $1 million to the Kennesaw State University College of the Arts for a new art museum to be built on campus.

Georgia (Jan 4, 2005) — The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation in Atlanta recently awarded $1 million to the Kennesaw State University College of the Arts for a new art museum to be built on campus. This is the first Woodruff Foundation gift to a non−research public university‚ and the largest single gift ever designated for the College of the Arts.

Under Dr. Betty Siegel’s leadership‚ KSU Interim Vice President Wesley K. Wicker and College of the Arts Dean Joseph Meeks assembled a team of Kennesaw State personnel and community supporters to approach the Woodruff Foundation.

“We are really grateful to our director of development‚ Stacie Barrow‚ and long−time friends of Kennesaw Fred Bentley Sr. and Conley Ingram for their help with this proposal‚” Meeks said. “Everyone came together and‚ I think‚ the people at the Woodruff Foundation were impressed by the terrific support we have received from the community.”

The proposed museum will be located adjacent to the existing Howard Logan Stillwell Theater and the soon−to−be−constructed performance hall.

“These three facilities will form an arts district unlike the arts facilities on any other Georgia campus‚ where the different disciplines usually are separated both physically and philosophically‚” Meeks said. “At Kennesaw State‚ we are building an integrated and innovative arts complex that will enhance student learning and create more enriched arts experiences for our campus and our community.”

In addition to providing more space for visiting exhibitions and support services‚ the art museum will house the university’s growing permanent collection of art. At this time‚ the collection includes more than 400 pieces and is valued at more than $4 million. Some of the works currently are displayed in offices around campus‚ but many are kept in storage awaiting an adequate facility to display them. The collection was started in 1972 with a gift of five pieces from Marietta collectors Fred Bentley Sr. and J. Allan Sellars. The permanent collection offers a comprehensive assemblage of 18th−‚ 19th− and 20th−century American art.

“I am amazed how much art history we can cover just by pointing out what we have in our collections‚” said Roberta Griffin‚ KSU director of galleries.

Woodruff Foundation President Charles P. “Pete” McTier and the foundation’s trustees also were impressed by the breadth and depth of the collection. However‚ they were particularly attracted to the art museum project because of KSU alumnus Russell Clayton’s decision to give the university his collection of works by Italian−born Atlanta artist Athos Menaboni‚ a contemporary and friend of Robert W. Woodruff. The Woodruff Foundation’s gift will be used to construct a gallery for this collection in the new art museum.

When Menaboni moved to Atlanta during the Great Depression‚ he became acquainted with Woodruff‚ then president of Coca−Cola. Intrigued by Menaboni’s art‚ Woodruff commissioned many works by the artist‚ including the artwork for his personal Christmas cards. Many of these cards can be seen in the special exhibition‚ “Christmas Card and Gift Print Exhibition of the White House and Robert Woodruff Collections‚” in the Sturgis Library Gallery‚ Dec. 14−17.

Menaboni painted many subjects‚ but he is best known for his renderings of more than 150 species of American birds‚ many of which appeared in magazines like “Progressive Farmer‚” “Southern Living” and “Sports Illustrated‚” as well as in the World Book Encyclopedia. Some of his bird paintings‚ landscapes and seascapes will be included in “The Collector’s Vision: Works by Athos Menaboni from the Collection of Russell Clayton‚” April 14−May 12 in the Fine Arts Gallery.

But the Menaboni collection is just one of several important collections that will be housed in the art museum. Other notable works include the university’s collection of more than 100 sculptures by the late Ruth Zuckerman—gifted to Kennesaw State by her husband‚ Bernard Zuckerman—and the most valuable single work in the collection‚ “Jonathan and David‚” a painting by N.C. Wyeth that has remained in storage because the university does not currently have an adequate place to display it.

Although the exact design for the art museum has not been finalized‚ the proposed 27‚500 square−foot facility would include four galleries‚ a multi−purpose classroom‚ storage space and a sculpture garden. The building will be connected via breezeway to the performance hall and by inviting pedestrian walkways to Stillwell Theater. The College of the Arts recently has launched a multi−year‚ multi−million dollar campaign to complete this new arts district.

“We want to present cohesive arts programming with exhibitions‚ theatrical productions and concerts that enhance each other‚” Meeks said. “We have envisioned an entire arts complex for the benefit not only of the community but‚ most importantly‚ for our students.”


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit