Dr. R. Wathen Medley has presented a gift of $1 million to the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art Foundation to establish an endowment to provide a permanent source of income for the facility. It’s the largest donation in the museum’s history, and one wing of the museum was renamed to honor the endowment.
The announcement was made Tuesday at OMFA, where officials also unveiled a plaque establishing the “Medley Decorative Arts Wing” honoring the “Dr. R. Wathen, Jr. and Jeanette Napier Medley Endowment.”
Medley said the endowment is meant to provide financial stability and a permanent source of annual income. The principal of the endowment is restricted and will remain intact.
“I have given numerous works of art to the museum from our personal collection, as well as other gifts over the years, and I have been giving a lot of thought to how I could help this institution build a stronger financial base far into the future,” Medley said. “Making this gift is a true joy for me. It is a tribute to the many people who give to and serve the museum and to the professional staff which makes it such a vibrant place. It is also a gift to the people of our community and region, who can learn about and enjoy its educational values free of charge.”
OMFA Executive Director Mary Bryan Hood thanked Medley for the “magnificent gift”
“We are infinitely grateful that you have secured this museum its permanent collection and educational values for future generations. You have inspired all of us with all you’ve done for the museum in recent years and in the past,” she said. “Your gift is the single-largest in the history of the museum and not only does it provide for greater financial stability, it also encourages and inspires others to give.”
OMFA Board of Directors Chairman Dr. James F. Naas noted that the gift nearly fulfills the museum’s current “Campaign for the Future.” In 2019, the museum launched a $2 million philanthropic effort “to underwrite further restoration of the historical facilities, focus on endowment and acquire sustaining support,” according to Naas.
“We have already met our sub-goal for sustaining support and need to raise an additional $250,000 to improve our facilities,” Naas said.
Nass said to help finish off the goal, an anonymous donor has pledged to match every campaign contribution dollar for dollar up to a total of $125,000 for capital improvements through July 16, when the museum will celebrate the 46th anniversary of its founding.
In just that time, OMFA has grown from a small community museum into the second-largest art museum in Kentucky. Two of the three wings are on the National Register of Historic Sites.
The museum’s permanent collection contains more than 4,000 objects from the 16th century to the present. Exhibitions change every 3 months in the temporary exhibitions wing, and more than 500 have been featured since the museum opened in 1977.
OMFA is located at the corner of 9th and Frederica streets. The museum galleries are open Tuesday through Friday from 12-5 p.m. and weekends from 1-4 p.m. Admission is free but donations are encouraged of $3 for adults and $2 for children. For more information, visit the museum’s website omfa.us or call 270-685-3181.