Berman Museum Secures Largest Monetary Gift in its History
The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art, a longtime cornerstone of art and culture in Montgomery County, Pa., has received $3.61 million—its largest-ever gift—to significantly increase its endowment, support annual operations and programming, and ensure its long-term growth and sustainability.
The bequest is part of $4.1 million to Ursinus from the late Henry “Hank” W. Pfeiffer, a 1948 Ursinus graduate, philanthropist, and former college trustee. He passed away in 2020. It also included $500,000 to support the Innovation and Discovery Center, which opened in 2018.
“Hank Pfeiffer’s generosity is foundational to the Berman Museum of Art’s history and continues to be transformational for our institution,” Berman Museum Executive Director Lauren McCardel said. “With this legacy gift, his impact is felt as strongly as ever. His foresight and planning have ensured not only our short-term stability, but also our long-term sustainability, giving us the freedom to experiment and grow. This boost to the museum’s endowment is a huge step forward in the advancement of our mission and strategic goals.”
Ursinus received the first $1.6 million distribution from Pfeiffer’s estate in 2021 to support the museum’s core operations and exhibitions through 2025. Another $2.01 million, received this year, is designated to the Henry and June Pfeiffer Fund for the Berman Museum of Art, which is endowed.
Prior to the gift, the museum’s endowment was valued at $2.8 million, so McCardel said it will increase the endowment by about 70 percent. The additional funds generated through the endowment’s investment income will enable the museum to expand activities prioritized in its strategic plan, including museum education and public programming. As a teaching museum on a liberal arts college campus, the Berman Museum facilitates multiple interdisciplinary points of access and opportunities for engagement, learning, and collaboration for the college, K-12 school groups, and the surrounding community.
The funding will also help support the conservation and preservation of its permanent collection of more than 8,000 works of art, including works on paper, paintings, sculpture, photographs, and Pennsylvania German cultural material. The museum is prioritizing the digitization of its collection to increase access to the art for students, educators, scholars, and members of the public.
The Berman Museum opened in 1989 thanks to the generous philanthropy of Philip and Muriel Berman, who gifted the college with an expansive art collection that enabled the college to start the museum. It is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, a distinction earned by a very select number of museums in the United States and one that places it among the top 10 percent of museums worldwide. In 2008, a new wing on its lower level was built and named for Pfeiffer and his late wife, June, to honor their longtime generosity and support of the college and the museum. The college bestowed an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters upon Pfeiffer in 2008.