The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, announced late last month that longstanding patrons Harriette and Noel Levine have made a gift of $12 million through their foundation to the museum's department of photography. This gift is thought to be the largest single monetary gift for photography at a museum. It will support acquisitions, research, exhibitions, publications, and departmental operations.
In recognition of the couple's generosity, the Museum's photography department, which holds over 55,000 works reflecting the evolution of the medium from its earliest days, is being named "The Noel and Harriette Levine Department of Photography."
"We are deeply grateful to Harriette and Noel Levine for this unprecedented gift, which ensures the growing strength of our program in the history of photography," said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. "As one of the first encyclopedic museums to establish an independent department for photography, the Israel Museum has become a leading international institution in this field today. The Levines' gift guarantees that the department will continue to grow, through important acquisitions, research, and programming, enabling us to realize our commitment to the medium."
Avid patrons of the arts, Harriette and Noel Levine have developed an outstanding photography collection themselves that ranges from vintage 19th-century photographs through contemporary works. The New York-based collectors are actively involved in the American Friends of the Israel Museum and have been supportive of the museum for many years. Among other contributions, in 1994, the Levines generously gave the Israel Museum a collection of eighty-five signed works by noted photographer Andre Kertesz.
"We are proud that our gift will help advance the Israel Museum's emergence as one of the premier venues in the field of photography," said Noel Levine. "Photography as a means of artistic expression is a subject of very special interest for Harriette and me, and it is gratifying to support an institution that is a leader in the collection and study of this art form."
In addition to the Israel Museum, Harriette and Noel and Harriette Levine have gifted photographic works to the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has named a gallery in their honor. They participate in many charitable endeavors and serve as board members and trustees to a number of cultural and arts institutions.