Over the course of their 70-year marriage, philanthropists and patrons of the arts Jack and Becky Benaroya collected a museum’s worth of art. Earlier this year, Becky Benaroya, now 93, announced that the collection she built with her late husband would in fact become a museum — as a wing of the Tacoma Art Museum.
The collection comprises 225 works of art, including paintings and sculptures by Northwest artists and 150 works of glass art, indicative of the Benaroyas’ close relationship with the Pilchuck Glass School. Among the glass collection are pieces by Dale Chihuly, with whom the Benaroyas formed a close friendship, and works of art by many other legendary Northwest glass artists.
“The gift is this amazing opportunity for Tacoma Art Museum to begin to do scholarly work about Pilchuck and its legacy in art, both the history of the artists’ association with Pilchuck and the way Pilchuck has changed contemporary art,” says Tacoma Art Museum’s chief curator and curator of contemporary and Northwest art, Rock Hushka. “We’ll show all the complexity and innovation that came out of the creative environment at Pilchuck. The Benaroya Collection in a lot of ways shows how the artists took these ideas and developed them into these iconic works of art.”
Tacoma was chosen for the gift in part because of its focus on Northwest art. The Benaroyas wanted the collection to stay together — a feat that called for building a new wing on the museum. Designed by Tom Kundig of the Seattle architecture firm Olson Kundig, the wing is expected to be completed in the fall of 2018.