NSU’s Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale gets $1.5 million matching grant

With the buzz still lingering after the naming of a new high-profile director, the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale is embarking on a new fundraising push over the next three years with the help of a $1.5 million challenge grant.

The museum, which is part of the private Nova Southeastern University, received the grant from the David and Francie Horvitz Family Foundation. While the donation was disclosed to board members in September, it will be announced more broadly Wednesday.

“For the last many years, I’ve been working on trying to get this museum — which is a treasure for all of Broward County — to live up to its potential,” said David Horvitz, chairman of the museum’s board of governors.

He said one key step was choosing Bonnie Clearwater as the new director and chief curator after having an interim director for more than a year. Clearwater, who was director and chief curator at North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art, started her new job Sept. 3.

“The idea is to build short-term revenue and build long-term friends, which I think will be really easy as our programming takes on the Bonnie Clearwater mantle,” Horvitz said.

The grant will match new and increased gifts of $5,000 or more up to $500,000 a year; the goal is to garner a total of $3 million. It is the largest challenge grant the museum has received in at least 20 years.

In an interview, Clearwater said the money will go toward operating costs and programming, which could include exhibitions, public programs, educational outreach or other uses.

“It’s exactly what we need in order to really realize all the potential and opportunities for the museum,” she said.

Even though a public announcement had not been made before Tuesday, $300,000 in donations have already been made — either just before or after the announcement to the board — and will be matched.

“Just the fact that David and Francie had felt so strongly about the museum’s future that they’re willing to make this donation will give others the confidence that their support will go a long way if they donate here,” Clearwater said. “It has even a bigger impact.”

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