$15M pledge makes troubled Delaware museum debt-free

Delaware Art Museum

The Delaware Art Museum, which was saddled with $20 million in debts incurred in a 2005 renovation. Florain Holzherr image, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – A philanthropic pair has pledged $15 million to the Delaware Art Museum, which lost its accreditation in 2014 for selling artwork to help pay off debts.

The News Journal reported Thursday that Gerret and Tatiana Copeland’s pledge is the largest cash donation in the three decades for which the museum has electronic records.

Gerret Copeland, who chairs the museum’s board of trustees, says he wanted to help stabilize the museum’s finances, as he voted to sell art to clear $20 million in debts incurred in a 2005 renovation. The museum is now debt-free, but the contentious sale resulted in American Association of Museum Directors sanctions.

CEO Samuel Sweet says the museum is focused on restoring community trust. He says the museum saw its highest attendance in a decade last year.

Information from: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., http://www.delawareonline.com

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AP-WF-01-25-18 1758GMT