Treasures from Shanghai
Coinciding with the Chinese New Year, the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Orange County’s Santa Ana unveiled its “Treasures from Shanghai” exhibit in the newly opened Dorothy and Donald Kennedy Wing. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the 30,000 square foot expansion project, which doubled the museum’s size, cost $15 million and is nearly paid off, thanks to a new portfolio of donors now connected with the Bowers Museum and the Kennedy Wing.
When Southern California business man (and Bowers trustee) Donald Kennedy donated $2 million to the project, not only did he challenge the Board to match his gift, but he set out to reinvigorate the Museum’s stalled fundraising campaign. The Museum’s efforts had been hampered by donor fatigue, as Kennedy recalled, “You can only call on your friends so many times.” Competition also played a role (the $200 million Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in nearby Costa Mesa opened in September).
Kennedy sought the help of Dominic Ng, Chairman and CEO of East West Bancorp, and a well-known philanthropist in Los Angeles County. Not only was Ng a successful fundraiser (as the first Asian American to serve as campaign chairman for United Way of Greater Los Angeles in 2000-2001, Ng raised a record amount of funds and broke many philanthropic barriers in Los Angeles), he also had a wealth of contacts, and was passionate about the cause – a new North Wing which would include a major Asian History & Arts Gallery focusing on 5,000 years of Chinese history. Ng signed on to become the co-chair of the campaign, along with Kennedy, and introduced a new donor population to this Orange County museum – Asian American bankers and Los Angeles County philanthropists.