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Huntington raises $243 million in six-year campaign

June 28, 2010 | 10:07 am

Chinesegarden The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens is announcing Monday that it has raised an estimated $243 million – surpassing its target of $175 million – during a six-year campaign that was the most comprehensive in its history.

Money from For Generations to Come – The Campaign for the Huntington goes toward annual operating and capital expenses and endowments to support collections and programs.

In addition, the San Marino institution says it has received more than $100 million worth of donations of other types, including works of art and rare books – what President Steven S. Koblik calls "more gifts to our collections than in any period since the death of our founder, Mr. Huntington."

Koblik says the campaign, which began in July 2004 and ends Wednesday, demonstrates how the Huntington, once known as a bastion of old-school arts and letters, is repositioning itself as a collections-based research and education institution. "We've made great progress toward addressing our financial concerns, but this is not just about raising money. It's about creating a culture."

Officials credit much of the campaign's success to strategic-planning sessions and outreach that increased awareness of the Huntington's need to broaden its mission and deal with longstanding practical problems.

The Huntington, which was founded in 1919, often is seen as having deep pockets, says Koblik. However, when Henry E. Huntington died in 1927, he had invested so heavily in his collections that he had set aside $8.5 million for an endowment, about a third of what advisors had recommended.

"For all its appearances, the Huntington was weaker financially than it seemed to be," says George Abdo, vice president for advancement. "We were spending too much from our endowment. We had significant deferred maintenance issues. Our staff salaries, in some cases, were significantly below market. These issues became our strategic goals, and our campaign was explicit about the need to address those goals."

Koblik adds that since he arrived in 2001 he has worked to develop a variety of revenue streams for the Huntington and to expand its bases of support since it is neither a fully endowed private entity nor eligible for public funds. "Our ability to survive, and thrive, rests on our ability to attract more people into our family, as donors, visitors, staff and volunteers."

Dibner During the campaign, these groups responded by giving more than $90 million — 50% beyond the target — in annual funds. The Huntington's membership grew by 20%, to more than 30,000.

The campaign's final years coincided with a severe recession, says Koblik, "However, we were fortunate because we raised a lot of money early. We also always have been financially cautious."

That's not to say the economy didn't take its toll. The endowment's value — now $240 million — dropped 21.5% from the 2008 to 2009 fiscal years. The Huntington temporarily cut compensation, laid off 10 of more than 300 employees and trimmed $2 million from the 2009-10 operating budget of about $31 million.

Even so, For Generations to Come has created optimism about the future, says Abdo, who adds that the campaign already has led to a reduction in the annual endowment payout and "lots of new projects." These include the $20-million renovation and reinstallation of the Huntington Art Gallery, the $18-million Liu Fang Yuan Chinese garden, the expanded Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art and Dibner Hall of the History of Science, home of the Burndy Library of rare books and manuscripts.

Besides the Burndy Library, in-kind gifts include a major collection representing the history of Southern California's aerospace industry, the Sam Francis painting "Free Floating Clouds" and the bequest of a historic San Marino residence designed by Myron Hunt, who also designed the home of Henry Huntington (now the Huntington Art Gallery).

— Karen Wada

Top photo: Liu Fang Yuan, the Huntington's $18-million Chinese garden. Credit: Courtesy of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

Bottom photo: Dibner Hall of the History of Science.  Credit: Courtesy of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.


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