The University of Maine Museum of Art will get a new name and more space to exhibit artwork because of a $1.3 million gift from Linda and Donald Zillman, longtime Mainers with deep ties to the university system who now live in New Mexico. The Zillmans are also longtime supporters of the museum and were instrumental in its move from the campus in Orono to downtown Bangor two decades ago.

Linda and Donald Zillman Courtesy of University of Maine System

The museum is now formally known as the Linda G. and Donald N. Zillman Art Museum – University of Maine. The Zillmans pledged the gift to the University of Maine Foundation for the construction and operation of five new galleries to house the museum’s collection of more than 4,000 works of modern and contemporary art. The museum’s Harlow Street entrance will be reconfigured to accommodate the new galleries, which will increase exhibition space by 40 percent, said museum director George Kinghorn.

“The new second floor galleries will serve to unite the museum’s existing galleries that are on the lower floor, ultimately creating a more cohesive and welcoming visitor experience,” he wrote in an email. The design is complete and construction will begin “as soon as we emerge from the COVID-19 situation. We hope that the new galleries will be complete by December 2020,” he wrote.

Kinghorn also said he negotiated a new long-term lease with the building’s owners, Eastern Maine Development Corp.

Donald Zillman served as the fourth dean of Maine Law, interim provost and academic vice president of the University of Maine, interim president of the University of Maine at Fort Kent, and president of the University of Maine at Presque Isle. He returned as a professor to Maine Law 2014. Linda Zillman is an art historian and curator. She has served on the Museum of Art Alliance Board of Directors for more than 10 years.

In a joint statement, they said, “The UMMA serves as one of Maine’s premiere art museums. In addition to attracting Maine visitors, it welcomes art enthusiasts from around New England and eastern Canada. Many of these are young people making their first connection to the arts – visits that often begin a lifelong connection with art. Advancing UMMA requires improvements in physical facilities and support growth. We are excited about investing in its future.”

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