Fowler Museum receives $2 million donation to endow curatorial position
The Fowler Museum at UCLA has received a $2 million donation from Deborah and Jay Last of Beverly Hills, Calif.
As long-standing supporters of the Fowler, the Lasts have made many important gifts of art and helped to fund the construction of the Fowler's building on the UCLA campus.
This new pledge of $2 million is made in honor of Marla C. Berns' 10th anniversary at the helm of the museum, where she is the Shirley & Ralph Shapiro Director, and will be used to endow the position of curator of African arts, currently held by Gemma Rodrigues.
"This fund will ensure that a Fowler curator will always be dedicated to the tradition-based and contemporary arts of Africa and its diasporas," Berns said. "Given the strength and scope of our African collection — among the most important in the country — this gift secures our leadership position in the field of African visual culture locally, nationally and internationally, and at UCLA as part of a broad interdisciplinary base of teaching and scholarship."
"With the increasing interest in Africa and the arts of Africa, we wanted to ensure that the Fowler would maintain and build its preeminence in this field," said Jay Last. "We are so pleased to be able to take this step."
Jay Last has a lifelong interest in Africa and African art and is a collector of art from West and Central Africa. His major collection of works by the Lega peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was donated to the Fowler Museum and formed the basis of the acclaimed exhibition "Art of the Lega," which opened at the Fowler Museum in 2001 and has traveled to several venues.
Trained as a physicist, Jay Last is one of the eight original founders (known as the "fathers of Silicon Valley") of Fairchild Semiconductor Corp. and led the group that made the first integrated circuit chip. He has written books on American graphic arts and is a founder of the Archaeological Conservancy.
Deborah Last has a bachelor's degree in art history from UCLA and a master's in print journalism from the University of Southern California.
The Fowler Museum at UCLA is one of the country's most respected institutions devoted to exploring the arts and cultures of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas. The Fowler is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. The Fowler Museum, part of UCLA Arts, is located in the north part of the UCLA campus. Admission is free. Parking is available for a maximum of $11 in Lot 4. For more information, the public may call 310-825-4361 or visit www.fowler.ucla.edu.