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Estate Gift from California Couple to Elevate Montana Museum of Art & Culture

April 25, 2014

MISSOULA – A California couple with a love for Montana and art has committed a significant portion of their estate to the Montana Museum of Art & Culture at the University of Montana. The gift will come from alumna Suzanne Moore Crocker ’64 and her husband, Bruce, of Palo Alto, Calif.

Their bequest will establish the Suzanne and Bruce Crocker Distinguished Director Fund, an endowment to support the salary and benefits of MMAC directors long into the future. The Crockers also are providing an annual contribution for the director’s fund until their bequest is realized.

The couple’s contribution is a foundational gift for the University’s efforts to secure private support for a new museum building.

“This collection has such a broad scope of work,” Suzanne Crocker said. “It’s one of the premier collections in the region, and holds great opportunity to teach about many different eras in art and culture.”

A small percentage of the artwork is displayed at any given time at two campus galleries and various other venues. Museum supporters like the Crockers are working with the University to find a space to display more of the collection and improve the storage of its treasures.

“Getting more of the collection of 11,000 original works of art out of storage and up on the walls will be a wonderful thing,” Mrs. Crocker said. “It is very exciting to think that sometime in the near future, students on campus can actually go into the museum and see a vast array of artwork."

Born in Kalispell, Suzanne Crocker is a third-generation Montanan. The couple demonstrates their commitment to the University in many ways. Suzanne served on the UM Foundation Board of Trustees and the President’s Advisory Council for many years. Now Bruce is serving on the Foundation board, and Suzanne is on the MMAC Advisory Council.

“Each piece of art tells a story,” Bruce Crocker said. “We trust that our gift is a solid start and inspiration for others to also support a permanent home for such a wonderful Montana treasure.”

Bruce Crocker is now retired after a varied career in Silicon Valley. Initially, he was an operating executive with several technology companies, then was an investment banker with Hambrecht and Quist, and since 1998 was a partner in Pitango Venture Capital, Israel’s leading venture fund.

Before her retirement, Suzanne Crocker worked as a marketing and communications executive for a number of Silicon Valley companies, including Businessland and RasterGraphics. She also consulted with many other software and hardware companies. When she retired from the tech world, she completed a master’s degree in English literature and now dedicates much of her time to volunteering at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center.

Together, the couple raised two children. They now enjoy time with their four grandchildren, who also live in the Bay Area.

Museum Director Barbara Koostra says the generosity of the Crockers will preserve the University’s art collection for future generations.

“I am so grateful for this gift from Suzanne and Bruce because it strengthens the museum now and also encourages others to join the mission of permanently housing this immense resource for Montana and the entire region,” Koostra said.

UM President Royce Engstrom says the MMAC is a tremendous campus resource that has taken more than a century to gather and offers excellent programming that connects people to Montana’s – and the world’s – cultural heritage.

“As a fine arts, cultural and educational resource, the Montana Museum of Art & Culture is a significant contributor to the University’s academic research and scholarly activities,” Engstrom said. “The Crocker family’s generous gift allows for the continued stewardship of the collection, increasing its public value using the highest professional standards.”

Located on the UM campus in Missoula, MMAC is one of the state’s oldest and most prominent cultural reserves. The museum’s Permanent Collection began in 1894. Learn more about the museum at http://umt.edu/montanamuseum.

Help UM build a new Montana Museum of Art & Culture building by contacting Barbara Koostra at 406-243-2019 or barbara.koostra@mso.umt.edu.

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Western Montana, Dailies
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Contact: Beth Hammock, associate vice president of marketing and communications, UM Foundation, 406-243-4609, beth.hammock@umontana.edu.