Palm Beach couple donate $4 million and 19 works of art to Penn State’s Palmer Museum

Palm Beach residents Will Ameringer and Kevin Byrne are the donors of a $4 million gift to the Palmer Museum at Penn State, the university announced.

That’s a pretty substantial return on a nickel.

Ameringer’s love for art grew from his childhood at State College, Pennsylvania – where his father was a history professor at Penn State – and his mother took him on escapades to visit galleries and museums. .

“I remember these trips a lot, but the most striking thing was that I was allowed to buy a postcard that cost a penny,” Ameringer said in an interview.

“I don’t know if that means I was final in what I liked, but I bought the same postcard every time.”

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These multiple copies of “Winter Scene” by the American impressionist John Henry Twachtman would become Ameringer’s first art collection.

After graduating in art history from Penn State in 1977, then with a master’s degree from Harvard, he embarked on a 40-year career in the art world to finally open his own eponymous gallery in New York.

One day, Barbara Palmer – who together with her husband James was a visionary and champion of the museum that now bears their name – entered the gallery, which included the painter Jules Olitski among its representatives.

She left with Ameringer’s promise to help acquire the American abstract’s “Compelled” for the Palmer Museum. Ameringer delivered.

He now sits on the museum’s National Advisory Board.

In 2009, Ameringer met Kevin Byrne, a teacher and interior designer, at a fundraiser. They married in 2011 and now divide their time between their homes in Palm Beach and Paris.

Ameringer retired from the art world in 2020.

“I think where I am, and where we are, is a result of the education I received and the relationships I made at Penn State,” Ameringer said.

“I’ve seen the Palmer Museum grow and know it’s becoming more of a national presence, and we want to be a part of that.”

“A lot of Will’s DNA is in State College,” Byrne said. “And because of that, this gift makes sense, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.”

In addition to the Kevin and Will Ameringer-Byrne Museum of Excellence Endowment of $4 million, intended to help the museum serve as a vital and accessible cultural resource for students, faculty, staff, scholars and visitors , the couple will donate 19 works of art depicting American and British post-war modern and contemporary art.

The Ameringer-Byrne Collection features works created by LGBTQ artists and focuses on botanical subjects and themes.

Artists in the collection include David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Mapplethorpe, Donald Sultan, Nick Cave and Sue Williams.

Museum director Erin M. Coe said the donation will help distinguish the Palmer as a university art museum dedicated to amplifying diverse voices, especially those of the LGBTQ community, and promoting diversity. a sense of belonging and inclusion.

“We are deeply grateful to Will and Kevin for making this commitment,” she said.

“The endowment is an important investment in our ability to deliver world-class exhibitions and programs to diverse audiences for future generations.”

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