Three years ago, Maureen Field was searching for a new way to fulfill her duties as a member of the VMFA Council. She found a perfect match as the first Council volunteer to support the museum’s rapidly growing early childhood programs. Watching VMFA’s youngest visitors discover the world around them through play, song, and creative expression echoed her experiences with her daughter, Heidi—an artist and educator who teaches both teen and adult studio classes at VMFA—and granddaughters.
“Heidi immersed her daughters in art. Seeing the work that came from the girls even at a very young age was just amazing,” Maureen recalls. “Programs like Tots of Art are a wonderful opportunity for both children and adults to experience the benefits of early exposure to the arts.”
Passionate about history and the arts, Maureen and her husband, Ben, were already deeply involved in the museum. Their friendship with Dr. Joe Dye, former curator of South Asian and Islamic Art, had inspired a new fascination with Indian art.
“Visiting India with Joe through the Member Travel program was a phenomenal experience,” says Ben. The couple later purchased a 17th-century watercolor painting that is a promised gift to the museum.
VMFA was also part of Ben and Maureen’s estate plan. Years before, the couple had established two charitable gift annuities (CGA), which provide an income stream during the donors’ lifetimes as well as a significant tax deduction, and a charitable gift to VMFA upon their deaths. Maureen’s volunteer work prompted them to designate the remainders from their CGAs to establish an endowment supporting early childhood education.
“Maureen and I both value education and we like to support Virginia institutions,” Ben says. “We’ve made significant gifts to the College of William & Mary, my alma mater, and the Museum of Virginia History and Culture (formerly the Virginia Historical Society) in the past so this was just a perfect fit for us.”
“We’ve seen how much enjoyment art can bring to three generations of our family,” Maureen says. “With this gift, we hope that others will be able to share in that experience.”
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