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Nov. 1, 2023

$7.5M gift enables ‘unparalleled engagements with art’ at the MSU Broad Art Museum

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University will benefit from a significant $7.5 million bequest gift from alumnus Alan Ross and his spouse, Rebecca Ross.


Their gift will further the impact of the existing Alan and Rebecca Ross Exhibition Endowment, which was established by the couple with a previous $1 million cash gift in 2014 to support the museum’s exhibition program.

The Alan and Rebecca Ross Education Wing in the Zaha Hadid-designed museum — an open, light-filled public programming space that hosts thousands of children, MSU students and adults each year — was named in their honor.

“It is deeply meaningful to have the support of Alan and Rebecca Ross, who are leaders in the arts community in Michigan and beyond,” said MSU Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “Their partnership is a tremendous asset as we grow and expand the MSU Arts strategy. This new gift commitment helps ensure that these efforts and their legacy will continue for generations to come.”

Alan and Rebecca Ross at the MSU Broad Art Museum in an exhibition.
Alan and Rebecca Ross at the MSU Broad Art Museum in the exhibition Seeing in 360 Degrees: The Zaha Hadid Design Collection. Photo credit Chase Stanton.

Alan Ross graduated, cum laude, from MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1977. He met Rebecca through work at a startup tech venture in Silicon Valley. The pair got engaged in 1986 and, after living in New York together for several years, they returned to Alan’s hometown of Detroit in 1990 and married the following year. Ever the entrepreneur, Alan then purchased Gallagher Fire Equipment, which is now a major fire suppression and fire alarm contractor in southeast Michigan.

Alan and Rebecca share a fervent love for art and spend their time traveling to galleries and art fairs around the globe to collect pieces that resonate with them. They share an expansive collection of sculptures, paintings, drawings, prints and other works from prominent and established contemporary artists.

They also share their passion for the arts through investments of time: Rebecca has served on the Board of Governors for Cranbrook Academy of Art and was chair of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art, as was Alan. Alan currently serves as board chair at the MSU Broad Art Museum.

“The MSU Broad has become a significant part of our lives,” said Rebecca. “Its mission closely aligns with our belief that art is an extremely important component of everyday living.”

Their generosity helps further the goals of the MSU Broad Art Museum’s exhibition program. The program presents innovative research, scholarship and interdisciplinary learning through a global roster of artists, grounded in dialogue with their growing permanent collection of works spanning from the ancient world to the present day.

“Words can hardly convey the magnitude and impact of this gift from Alan and Rebecca Ross and the ways it will shape an ever-brighter future for the MSU Broad Art Museum,” said Steven Bridges, interim director of the museum. “Through the bolstering of their endowment, the museum’s exhibition program will grow significantly in the years ahead to provide unique, unparalleled engagements with art here on MSU’s campus. The museum stands to benefit greatly from this future gift, but the true beneficiaries are the many people whose lives will be enriched through the opportunities this gift will create.”

Alan and Rebecca Ross view the work Nova by Zaha Hadid Design for United Nude, gifted by the couple to the museum.
Alan and Rebecca Ross view the work Nova by Zaha Hadid Design for United Nude, gifted by the couple to the museum. The work is currently on view at the MSU Broad Art Museum in the exhibition Seeing in 360 Degrees: The Zaha Hadid Design Collection. Photo credit Chase Stanton.

In addition to their endowment, the Rosses also have supported the museum through numerous in-kind gifts of art. In the past year, they gifted the museum with several important Zaha Hadid works — the MSU Broad Art Museum currently holds the largest collection of Zaha Hadid Design works in North America.

The impact of the Rosses’ support for the arts at MSU also extends beyond the MSU Broad Art Museum. In 2022, the Rosses created the Alan and Rebecca Ross DIA Enrichment fund at MSU to strengthen collaborations between the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Department of Art, Art History and Design in MSU’s College of Arts and Letters.

The university recently launched Arts MSU to spotlight the diverse arts happenings across campus. MSU is home to nationally accredited museums, leading performing arts venues and programming that serve the community at the intersection of arts and research, and arts-focused gifts like this advance creativity, interdisciplinary discovery and student hands-on learning — both at MSU and throughout the state of Michigan.

“We continue to learn from art,” said Alan. “Beginning with the most primitive cave drawings and continuing to the über-current TikTok performance videos — we see something in all forms of art. This gift will provide the MSU Broad with the annual resources to continue and grow its exhibition program for the students, faculty and community forever.”

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