Behind Meadows' Big Gift to SMU

Artists throughout the centuries have benefited from wealthy patrons. Fine arts in Dallas and arts education at Southern Methodist University just received a generous round of support from a local patron, the Dallas-based Meadows Foundation. Meadows, which funds arts and culture, education, health, public affairs, and other projects mainly in Texas, gave $45 million to Southern Methodist University. The gift is the largest in SMU’s history and comes at the time the school is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Meadows designated $25 million for the Meadows Museum, housed on the SMU campus just north of downtown Dallas, and $20 million for the school’s Meadows School of the Arts. Funds allocated to the museum include $13 million for exhibitions and educational programs, $6 million for new acquisitions, and $6 million for an acquisition challenge grant. The $20 million for the arts college includes $12 million for facility enhancements and $8 million for student and faculty recruitment and new strategic initiatives. The university hopes the new grant for the arts school will enable SMU to compete with top arts and communications programs across the country.

The Meadows Foundation, founded by Dallas businessman and philanthropist Algur H. Meadows in 1948, has a long relationship with SMU. The Meadows Museum began at SMU when Algur Meadows donated funds to establish a museum to house his private collection of Spanish art. The Meadows Museum opened to the public in 1965. In 1998, the funder gave $20 million to construct the Meadows Museum facility, located near the SMU entrance. Previously, the museum was housed within the Meadows School of the Arts. In 2006, the funder gave the university $33 million, the largest single grant ever given to SMU before this new award.

The museum’s director told The Dallas Morning News that the $45 million gift, coupled with previous grants from the funder, will bring the museum closer to fulfilling Algur Meadows’ dream of a “Prado for Texas,” a reference to Spain’s national art museum, the Museo Nacional Del Prado in Madrid.