Kasser Family Wing at the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block

Committed to the advancement of arts and culture in Southern Arizona

Overview

Since 1924, the Tucson Museum of Art has shared a passion for the visual arts in our community building its impact generation after generation. From its beginnings as the Tucson Fine Arts Association, to the Tucson Arts Center, and today as the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block, TMA has generated enjoyment, an enriched perspective on the world, and exposure to the arts for the people of Southern Arizona. TMA is proud to captivate and impact audiences under the mission of “Connecting Art to Life.”

Celebrating its 95th anniversary in 2019, and more than a four decades since the opening of the William Wilde building, the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block readies to break ground on the first expansion in its history. The museum is proud to announce the inauguration of the KASSER FAMILY WING, made possible by the largest individual donor gift in the museum’s history. The new wing will exhibit pre-Columbian and Latin American art.

Kasser Family Wing, Tlatilco five
Kasser Family Wing, Jalisco woman

About the Project

The vision for the new 6000 sq. ft. expansion is the enhancement of the museum’s ability to serve the community and visitors by unifying the main museum building with the John K. “Jack” Goodman Pavilion, increased exhibition space, and an expanded opportunity to present extraordinary works of pre-Columbian and Latin American art, as well as contemporary interpretations, for generations to come.

Additional updates to TMA’s four-acre campus include significant outdoor improvements to the TMA Sculpture Garden, re-design of the Plaza of Pioneers, emphasis and support of museums’ main entrances, and completion of critical HVAC and safety measures. Tucson’s historic properties, which are city-owned buildings, will not be affected in the expansion.

The Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block will remain open during the construction project. The museum will begin preparation for construction in late spring 2019 with a projected completion fall of the same year. Work will take place in several spaces at once, reducing costs and enabling the project to be completed more quickly.

FAQs

How will the new wing serve the community?

The Kasser Family Wing will exhibit an extensive collection of pre-Columbian and Latin American art as well as Modern and Contemporary works of art linking origins of the Southern Arizona region and inviting the community to examine past and present identities through the lens of art.

What can visitors see during construction?

The Tucson Museum of Art will remain open throughout construction with a full schedule of exhibitions and events.

How will the public get updates?

The public can receive updates and follow the project’s progress on the museum’s website.

Will the historic properties be affected during the construction?

The historic properties will not be affected during construction of the new wing. There are five historic properties on the museum’s four-acre campus. Two of these properties; the Fish House and the Stevens/Duffield House are adjacent to, but not intersecting with, the planned expansion. All parties will work with the City of Tucson to ensure effective planning and protective measures are addressed before and during construction.

Will the café and museum store remain open during construction?

Yes, the café and museum store will maintain regular hours for the duration of the project.

How will you enter the museum during renovation?

Entrance to the museum will be through the existing admissions desks at 140 N. Main Avenue and Margaret E. Mooney Hall to the east. The museum will continue to be compliant with ADA standards and accessible at all times. For more information please visit the website or call 520-616-2684.

Will tours and education programs still be available?

Yes, tours and education programs will continue throughout construction. Please refer to the TMA website events calendar for more information.

How far along is the museum in Phase II of the fundraising campaign?

With the current gift commitements, TMA/100: A vision for the 21st century is roughly 64% complete. TMA’s goal is to have all naming opportunities completed by 2023, one year shy of its Centennial Celebration.

Will public funds be used for the project?

This project is funded entirely through private donations. No public funds were requested or received.

Who are the architect and construction company?

The Kasser Family Wing will be designed pro-bono by local architect Richard “Andy” Anderson, FAIA, Andy Anderson, L.L.C., Architecture & Planning. Additional consultants will include Advantech Facilities Design Inc., Schneider Structural Engineers and Monrad Engineers Inc. The project will be constructed by Tucson-based contractor Kittle Design and Construction.

Michael and his wife, Beth, have been instrumental in supporting and shaping arts and cultural in Southern Arizona

About the Kasser Family

Mike and Beth Kasser regularly underwrite the season of the Arizona Theatre Company in both Tucson and Phoenix. Among philanthropic efforts at the University of Arizona, they have underwritten the Kasser Medical Treatment Center, including the Alex & Elisabeth Kasser Aqua Rehab Center, and more recently the Kasser Family Swimming and Diving Pool. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they have underwritten the Kasser Sports Medicine Center, as well as endowing the Alexander & I. Michael Kasser Professorship in Chemical Engineering.

During World War II, Alexander Kasser, Mike’s father, helped organize and direct the Swedish Red Cross in Hungary, a group that helped to save hundreds of persecuted Jews and political targets. Alexander and Elisabeth Kasser also worked closely with Raoul Wallenberg, who is credited with saving thousands. Both Alexander and Elisabeth were recognized for their efforts by the United States Congress. The Kassers started the Kasser Art Foundation 30 years ago, and parts of their collection have been exhibited in both the U.S. and Europe. The Foundation, run by Mary Mochary, also gives scholarships to students in the arts.

Both Mike and Beth are avid athletes and have completed dozens of marathons, ultra marathons and triathlons. They continue to sponsor several sporting events such as the Tucson Marathon, El Tour de Phoenix, Tour of the Tucson Mountains, and the Tucson Triathlon Series at the University of Arizona.

About Mike Kasser

I. Michael Kasser is the founder of Holualoa Companies, which specializes in residential and commercial real estate investment and management.

Mike earned BA and MS degrees in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a PhD in engineering from the University of Grenoble (France), and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is fluent in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Hungarian, and has completed the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon eight times.

Mike is on the Advisory Boards of the Arizona Theatre Company, Critical Path Institute, UA College of Science and the Urban Land Institute Arizona District Council. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Arizona Foundation. At MIT, he has been a member of the Corporation Development Committee, and is now a member of the Visiting Committee of the MIT Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation, as well as the Visiting Committee of Music and Theater Arts. He is a member of the Visiting Committee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Dept. of Scientific Research, and has also served as chairman of the Island of Hawaii Salary Commission and a member of the Board of the Kona Hawaii Family YMCA. Mike was named a 2008 Father of the Year by the Fathers Day Council in Tucson, Arizona.

About Beth Kasser

Beth Chadwick Kasser is a dedicated mother and educator with a focus on family education as it relates to communication and emotional growth.

She has a BS degree from Plymouth State in New York, and a Masters degree in educational administration and curriculum development from Teachers College at Columbia University.

Beth worked for Teachers College as a teaching assistant for two years and later went on to form Holualoa Educational Services, an educational and fitness advisement service company that exists today, almost 30 years later. Beth provides fee-free educational and emotional growth advisement to families and students at risk including the privileged and not so privileged.

Currently, Beth is working with Teacher’s College to promote a study that will look at how cultures, across continents, navigate the pre-adolescent to post-adolescent years.

Beth is an avid sportswoman. During the 1980s, she was considered among the top female ultra-marathon runners in the U.S. She competed twice in the Hawaii Ironman and finished 2nd and 4th in her age group. She loves to dance.

About Pre-Columbian and Latin American Art at TMA

The Tucson Museum of Art’s pre-Columbian and Latin American collection was started with generous gifts from distinguished scholar and museum curator Frederick R. Pleasants. Early in his career, Pleasants was one of approximately 345 men and women who worked to protect and save art and cultural treasures in war-ravaged Europe during World War II. These men and women are known today as the “Monuments Men.” Today, the TMA pre-Columbian and Latin American collection encompasses over 1,000 works of art including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, textiles, and decorative arts.

Housed on the second floor of the Museum, the Palice Gallery of Latin American Art showcases many fine examples of Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial Art ranging from 1600 BCE to the 19th century. These objects express the spiritual, secular, and political lives of the societies that inhabited these regions over a span of 3,000 years. Named in honor of Tucson-based civic philanthropists Paul and Alice Baker in 2001, the Palice Gallery has served as the home to the institution’s extensive Latin American and pre-Columbian art.

TMA’s collection encompasses pre-Columbian art of Mexico, Central America, and South America; art of the Hispanic Vice-regencies and Spanish Colonies; nineteenth century art of Latin American Nations (Republics) inclusive of the Caribbean; and Modern and Contemporary works from Latin America and the United States.

The collection also features works from Colonial Latin America. From its first voyages to the Americas in 1492 until its last African colony gained independence in 1975, the Spanish Empire was one of the first and largest world powers. Of its many territories in the Americas, the most important colonies were the Viceroyalty of New Spain (1519-1821) and the Viceroyalty of Peru (1542-1842). Spanish rule precipitated a blending of cultures and an overlaying of European traditions in art, architecture, and decorative arts on the existing indigenous practices. Skilled native craftspeople were trained to aid the construction of churches and the creation of paintings and sculptures to fill them, resulting in an entirely new, Mestizo (people of mixed descent) style which influenced fine art and folk traditions after Mexican independence.

In 2015, the museum announced it received a gift from the estate of Jeanette H. and Bernard L. Schmidt to endow a Curator of Latin American Art position at the museum, which the museum intends to fill by early 2019.