At its first annual Legacy Society Dinner honoring donors who have included the Speed Art Museum
in their estate plans or given or pledged more than $100,000 in art or cash contributions during their lifetimes, Dr. Elizabeth Pahk Cressman announced that she and her husband, Dr. Frederick K. Cressman, have pledged $10 million to the Speed Art Museums upcoming renovation and expansion project. The Cressman gift is among the largest donations ever made to the Museum since its founding in 1927.
The Cressmans are avid art enthusiasts and since moving to Louisville in the 1980s have been long-time supporters of both the Speed Art Museum and the University of Louisville. Elizabeth Pahk Cressman was born in Seoul, Korea and earned a degree in medicine from Seoul Womens Medical College. Following her arrival in America, Dr. Cressman completed her medical education in Chicago at Wesley Memorial Hospital, Cook County Hospital, and Passavant Memorial Hospital and has enjoyed a successful career as an anesthesiologist. Elizabeth Cressman retired in 1990 and went on to pursue her life-long interest in art earning a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies from Bellarmine University and a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Louisville. A pathologist, Frederick K. Cressman trained in Philadelphia at Hahnemann University Hospital and Pennsylvania General Hospital, followed by a residency at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore. In Louisville he had a successful career as Chief of Pathology at Audubon Hospital. He retired in 1999.
Commenting on their donation, Elizabeth Cressman stated that the purpose of the gift is to allow the Speed to further its mission by strengthening the quality of its facilities in a dynamic way that will engage the Speed Art Museum, the University of Louisville, and the community. Our ultimate goal is to bring the Speed and the University together as true partners so the lives of students are enhanced through exposure to art and culture at the museum. Director, Dr. Charles L. Venable, added It is truly inspiring to have patrons like the Cressmans make such a leadership gift just as the architectural and landscape plans for the Museum are coming together so beautifully. We are extremely grateful to them for making this bold statement about the importance of the Speed in the life of our community.
When the Speed was founded, Venable continued, Hattie Bishop Speed and University of Louisville Chancellor John L. Patterson envisioned the Museum playing a very active role in the life of the University. While the two institutions are true partners in many ways now, the Cressman gift will ensure that the Speed physically engages the 22,000 students who attend classes on the Belknap Campus. Focusing along the path on which 5,000 to 7,000 of those students walk each day directly by the Museum, the Cressman gift will be used to construct a new Sculpture Garden and public Piazza where student and community life will mingle with great art and architecture in exciting ways.
The Elizabeth P. and Frederick K. Cressman Sculpture Garden and Cressman Piazza will be integral parts of a large renovation and expansion project that the Speed Art Museum has been developing for several years. The total effort encompasses approximately 220,000 square feet, including 40,000 sq. ft. of renovation, 45,000 sq. ft of new construction, and 135,000 sq. ft. of landscape improvements. The design architects for the project are Los Angeles-based wHY Architecture, in association with K. Norman Berry Associates of Louisville. The landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand from Boston will redesign the Museums setting along South Third Street on the northwest corner of the Universitys Belknap campus. At present the Speed hopes to be in a position to unveil the new master plan in Spring 2010. The Board of Governors has approved a $40 million capital campaign for the design, construction, furnishings, and endowment support. The Cressman donation will fund the landscape enhancements that are in addition to this amount.
On the subject of this leadership gift, Chairman of the Speed Art Museums Board of Governors, Todd Lowe, remarked, The timing could not have been better! The quiet phase of the Capital Campaign has been very successful despite the recession, but having a commitment of this magnitude at this stage should remove all doubt that the Speed is moving forward to achieve its vision of increased engagement with University of Louisville and the larger community within a setting of excellence and excitement. The Museum plans to break ground on its renovation and expansion project in summer 2010, with a completion date in 2014. Thanks to gifts like the Cressmans, Lowe concluded, the Museum will be completely transformed.