A $1.5-million gift from Los Angeles industrialist and art collector Frederick R. Weisman has thrust Pepperdine University's art gallery into the limelight. Upon receipt of the gift, which was announced Thursday, the year-old gallery in Malibu will be renamed the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art.
"It's very exciting. What could be better than having a museum in my hometown?" Weisman said. "I have long sought an appropriate forum in the Los Angeles community to demonstrate my interest in the art of our century and of California. The new facility at Pepperdine more than adequately does that."
Weisman said he selected the university after visiting the campus about eight months ago at the behest of Nora Halpern, his longtime curator, who became director of the Pepperdine gallery in April.
"I was just overwhelmed by the school," Weisman said. "I've long been a believer that young people should have the opportunity to live with art while they are pursuing their studies so they don't just become bookworms," he said, noting that the seaside campus and new art gallery provide an ideal setting to realize his vision.
The museum will open its fall season on Sept. 12 with an exhibition of "Selections From the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation Collection," including 45 works by such well-known artists as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Edward Ruscha, Joe Goode and Roy Lichtenstein. These works will remain on long-term loan to the university. As to the possibility that Weisman might donate part or all of his collection to the university, he said, "I'm confident that will happen, but don't want to say what pieces."
The gift, which includes $300,000 in matching grants, will help the museum finish paying construction costs and provide operating funds.
"In this recession, many colleges have been forced to cut back on their fine-arts programs," Pepperdine President David Davenport said. "This gift from a renowned figure in the art world enables Pepperdine to immediately enhance its already strong arts programs."
Weisman has repeatedly tried to establish a museum for his collection in Southern California in the past, including an ill-fated attempt to convert Beverly Hills' Greystone Mansion into a museum.