Nerman Museum gets a $1 million gift

Buying art is Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art director Bruce Hartman’s favorite pastime. On Thursday he learned he can pick up the pace, thanks to a million-dollar gift from Johnson County philanthropist and art collector Mary Cohen.

The funds, given to the Johnson County Community College Foundation, will be used to establish the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Art Acquisition Endowment, named for the donor and her late husband, Johnson County banker Barton P. Cohen.

“Mary Cohen’s gift is the first dedicated endowment for our museum,” Hartman said. “It’s something we’ve hoped for since opening two years ago.

“Her gift will allow the museum to collect far into the future,” Hartman added, “and we look forward to establishing a major collection of contemporary art with these funds.”

The endowment is the second major gift to the museum from the Cohens, who donated funds to establish the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Gallery —a project space for area artists—before the museum opened.

The Cohens have long championed artists in the region, Hartman said, and his purchases will reflect this.

“In addition to collecting artists of international and national reputations, we will certainly be looking to artists from this area. We will continue the pattern of collecting that we have for many years, which includes great support for area artists.”

The museum’s collection numbers more than 850 works.