Met Museum receives $80M gift from Irving family

Met Museum

Copyrighted image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

NEW YORK – The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today a gift of more than $80 million from trustee Florence Irving and her late husband, Herbert Irving. This is the largest financial gift the museum has received in recent history.

Mr. Irving’s bequest will establish an unrestricted art acquisitions endowment fund, as well as several endowment funds for the Department of Asian Art.

These funds will support acquisitions, exhibitions, and publications of the arts of China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Himalayas, with a preference for Chinese decorative arts and Indian and Southeast Asian art, all fields in which the Irvings collected art.

An endowment will also support the Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for South and Southeast Asian Art, which were named by the Irvings in 1994.

For over 30 years, the Irvings have been landmark benefactors of the museum, and in particular the Department of Asian Art. In recognition of their extraordinary generosity, the museum designated the Florence and Herbert Irving Asian Wing in 2004.

The Irvings were avid collectors of Asian art for more than 50 years, and in 2015, they gave an extraordinary collection of more than 1,200 works of art to the museum. Their collecting interests encompass all of the major cultures of East and South Asia and virtually every medium explored by Asian artists and craftsmen over five millennia. Their incomparable support of the Department is also recognized through the numerous galleries that bear their names, in addition to the Florence and Herbert Irving Asian Wing in its entirety. In a further mark of their support, in 2011 they endowed the position of the Florence and Herbert Irving Curator of the Arts of South and Southeast Asia, which is currently held by John Guy.

News of this gift is one of two announcements made today about the Irving family’s philanthropy. The family also announced a bequest of $700 million jointly to Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian for cancer research and care, which, when added to their earlier philanthropy, brings the Irving family’s total support for these three iconic New York City institutions to more than $1 billion.