Portland State University announced Thursday that businessman and philanthropist Jordan Schnitzer has made a $5 million contribution through the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation to create the first art museum at PSU — one of the most vibrant and accessible urban university museums in the United States.
The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art will be housed in Neuberger Hall, a 60-year-old facility that PSU will renovate to become a dynamic hub for interdisciplinary learning, community connections and cultural outreach. Overlooking both the South Park Blocks and SW Broadway, the museum will occupy 7,500 square feet over two floors, with state-of-the-art galleries offering free and accessible art experiences to students and the public. It will feature art by Portland and Northwest artists, faculty and students as well as exhibitions by national and international artists.
“I believe that students on every university campus should make going to an art museum part of their campus life,” said Jordan Schnitzer, whose renowned collection of contemporary prints includes today’s most celebrated artists. “Art museums are not just for the elite few. They are for every member of our community.”
He added: “By helping create the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU, my goal of every PSU student — all 27229 of them — visiting the museum often will become a reality! Hopefully, they will become wonderful art and cultural leaders in our community and across this state and nation.”
“We are proud to partner with Jordan Schnitzer on a visionary university museum that will bring remarkable access to the visual arts and arts education to PSU and Portland,” said PSU President Wim Wiewel. “Both this museum and a renovated Neuberger Hall will stand at the very heart of our campus and community.”
Schnitzer’s gift augments $60 million in public bonds approved by the Oregon Legislature for the project, which is expected to take two years to complete at a total cost of $70 million. The remaining $5 million is expected to come from philanthropy. “We are also profoundly grateful for the critical philanthropic leverage this gift has helped provide,” Wiewel said.
“Portland has a tremendous culture around the arts. Young and creative people thrive here. This museum will enhance our strengths in these areas,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said. “I want to thank Jordan Schnitzer and PSU for spearheading the effort to create a university museum that will combine art appreciation and education to become one of the premier institutions of its kind in the country.”
“Jordan’s extraordinary donation will provide PSU students and everyone in our community an opportunity to connect with art,” Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish said. “PSU is one of our most important civic institutions, and a perfect home for this new museum. As Arts Commissioner for the City of Portland, I am deeply grateful for this act of philanthropy.”
Enabling rich connections
Schnitzer’s commitment to fund the museum stipulates that it offer rich creative, educational and research opportunities to PSU students and faculty in departments across campus, as well as enable new occasions for collaboration in the humanities, science, technology and design. Those connections will be enhanced by the museum’s location in a building that is home to eight academic departments in the arts and sciences, and an administrative center for Portland State students.
“Jordan Schnitzer truly understands that art does more than illuminate our world — it also enriches society by sparking creative innovation across disciplines,” PSU Provost Sona Andrews said. “Art and design can inform science, technology and business — and change the world. This crown jewel of a museum will serve not just our art majors but all PSU students.”
A philanthropic and cultural legacy for PSU and Portland
“Jordan Schnitzer is following in his mother’s and father’s footsteps to become one of the Northwest’s most significant cultural and arts patrons,” said William Boldt, president of the PSU Foundation.
With this commitment, he is continuing the legacy of his parents, Harold and Arlene Schnitzer, who have previously funded projects on campus in excess of $4.5 million dollars. Those funds created the James DePreist Visiting Professorship in Ethnic Art, the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies, and an annual prize to support visual art students.
In 2013, Arlene Schnitzer personally supported construction of a glass tower for Lincoln Hall, home to PSU’s College of the Arts. The tower, which honors Arlene’s late husband Harold Schnitzer, provides space for instructional studios, an art gallery and a black box theater.
“In my past role as the DePreist Professor, I was provided the opportunity to truly explore what it means to advocate for diversity in the arts,” said Lisa Jarrett, assistant professor in the School of Art and Design. “The Schnitzers have created a growing legacy of support for the regional artistic community and of access to the arts for all.”
Other Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art highlights include:
• The building is located at the heart of the PSU campus on the block bound by SW Broadway, Hall, Park and Harrison, with easy access to public transportation and city’s highest volume traffic corridors.
• The project is being designed by Hacker Architects and will be built by Fortis Construction. Hacker Architects designed the Yellowstone Art Museum, the High Desert Museum, the Portland Children’s Art Museum and the renovation of the Portland Art Museum.
• The museum will be outfitted to maximize exhibition space with technology for climate control to accommodate multi-sensory and multi-media collections. It will be created with universal accessibility to encourage social diversity and to enhance visitor experience.
Additional information on the renovation of Neuberger Hall, including renderings and architectural details, can be found here: http://psuf.org/transforming-neuberger-hall
About Portland State University (PSU)
As Oregon’s only urban public research university, Portland State offers tremendous opportunity to 27,000 students from all backgrounds. Our mission to "Let Knowledge Serve the City" reflects our dedication to finding creative, sustainable solutions to local and global problems. Our location in the heart of Portland, one of America’s most dynamic cities, gives our students unmatched access to career connections and an internationally acclaimed culture scene. “U.S. News & World Report” ranks us among the nation’s top 10 most innovative universities. www.pdx.edu | @PSUinfoandnews