Kasser Family Wing of Latin American Art

Construction crews broke ground for the new wing in June 2019. This slideshow documents some major steps on the way to completion.

Overview

Since 1924, the Tucson Museum of Art has shared a passion for the visual arts in our community, building its impact generation after generation. From its beginnings as the Tucson Fine Arts Association, to the Tucson Arts Center, and today as the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block, TMA has generated enjoyment, an enriched perspective on the world, and exposure to the arts for the people of Southern Arizona. TMA is proud to captivate and impact audiences under the mission of “Connecting Art to Life.”

More than a four decades since the opening of the William Wilde building, TMA is adding the first expansion in its history. The Kasser Family Wing of Latin American Art, made possible by the largest individual donor gift in the museum’s history, will be completed in June 2020.

Digital Rendering

Kasser Family Wing, Tlatilco five

About the Project

The 6000+ sq. ft. expansion connects the main museum building with the John K. “Jack” Goodman Pavilion. In the new exhibition space TMA will present extraordinary works of Latin American art from ancient to contemporary.

Additional updates to TMA’s four-acre campus include significant outdoor improvements to the sculpture garden, redesign of the plaza, emphasis and support of the main entrances, and completion of critical HVAC and safety measures. The five historic properties, which are city-owned buildings, are not affected in the expansion.

The project is on track to be completed in June 2020.

Michael and Beth Kasser have been instrumental in supporting and shaping arts and culture in Southern Arizona

About the Kasser Family

Mike and Beth Kasser regularly underwrite the season of the Arizona Theatre Company in both Tucson and Phoenix. Among philanthropic efforts at the University of Arizona, they have underwritten the Kasser Medical Treatment Center, including the Alex & Elisabeth Kasser Aqua Rehab Center, and more recently the Kasser Family Swimming and Diving Pool. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they have underwritten the Kasser Sports Medicine Center, as well as endowing the Alexander & I. Michael Kasser Professorship in Chemical Engineering.

During World War II, Alexander Kasser, Mike’s father, helped organize and direct the Swedish Red Cross in Hungary, a group that helped to save hundreds of persecuted Jews and political targets. Alexander and Elisabeth Kasser also worked closely with Raoul Wallenberg, who is credited with saving thousands. Both Alexander and Elisabeth were recognized for their efforts by the United States Congress. The Kassers started the Kasser Art Foundation 30 years ago, and parts of their collection have been exhibited in both the U.S. and Europe. The Foundation, run by Mary Mochary, also gives scholarships to students in the arts.

Both Mike and Beth are avid athletes and have completed dozens of marathons, ultra marathons and triathlons. They continue to sponsor several sporting events such as the Tucson Marathon, El Tour de Phoenix, Tour of the Tucson Mountains, and the Tucson Triathlon Series at the University of Arizona.

About Mike Kasser

I. Michael Kasser is the founder of Holualoa Companies, which specializes in residential and commercial real estate investment and management.

Mike earned BA and MS degrees in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a PhD in engineering from the University of Grenoble (France), and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is fluent in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Hungarian, and has completed the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon eight times.

Mike is on the Advisory Boards of the Arizona Theatre Company, Critical Path Institute, UA College of Science and the Urban Land Institute Arizona District Council. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Arizona Foundation. At MIT, he has been a member of the Corporation Development Committee, and is now a member of the Visiting Committee of the MIT Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation, as well as the Visiting Committee of Music and Theater Arts. He is a member of the Visiting Committee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Dept. of Scientific Research, and has also served as chairman of the Island of Hawaii Salary Commission and a member of the Board of the Kona Hawaii Family YMCA. Mike was named a 2008 Father of the Year by the Fathers Day Council in Tucson, Arizona.

About Beth Kasser

Beth Chadwick Kasser is a dedicated mother and educator with a focus on family education as it relates to communication and emotional growth.

She has a BS degree from Plymouth State in New York, and a Masters degree in educational administration and curriculum development from Teachers College at Columbia University.

Beth worked for Teachers College as a teaching assistant for two years and later went on to form Holualoa Educational Services, an educational and fitness advisement service company that exists today, almost 30 years later. Beth provides fee-free educational and emotional growth advisement to families and students at risk including the privileged and not so privileged.

Currently, Beth is working with Teacher’s College to promote a study that will look at how cultures, across continents, navigate the pre-adolescent to post-adolescent years.

Beth is an avid sportswoman. During the 1980s, she was considered among the top female ultra-marathon runners in the U.S. She competed twice in the Hawaii Ironman and finished 2nd and 4th in her age group. She loves to dance.

About Latin American Art at TMA

The collection was started with generous gifts from distinguished scholar and museum curator Frederick R. Pleasants. Early in his career, Pleasants was one of 345 men and women who worked to protect and save art and cultural treasures in war-ravaged Europe during World War II. These men and women are known today as the Monuments Men.

The Latin American Art collection includes over 3,000 works of art from all periods, from ancient to contemporary. These include Art of the Ancient Americas, which encompasses objects from Mesoamerica, the Intermediate Zone, and South America; a Spanish Colonial collection that includes works created from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries; and a collection of Modern and Contemporary Latin American and Latinx Art.

Art of the Ancient Americas
The collection of art from the Ancient Americas includes finely decorated ceremonial vessels, figurines, stone sculpture, and metalwork. Collectively, these works represent approximately 3,000 years of history and over 30 cultures spanning the Americas from Central Mexico south to modern-day Chile. Highlights include Maya vessels and figurines, West Mexican figural sculpture, ceramics from Costa Rica and Panama, and Moche painted vessels.

Spanish Colonial Art
The collection of Spanish Colonial art includes works from Latin America and the Southwestern United States created from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Religious imagery and decorative arts comingle in this area of the collection. Highlights include a collection of oil-on-tin retablos, furniture, and more than 40 paintings on canvas.

Modern and Contemporary
The Latin American Modern and Contemporary collection includes paintings, works on paper, textiles, and sculptures. Modernist works include images by Mexican artists Carlos Mérida and Rafael Coronel, Brazilian artist Sérgio de Camargo, and Colombian artist Fernando Botero. The Contemporary Latin American Art collection includes works from Enrique Chagoya, Gustavo Ramos Rivera, and Roberto Márquez. Latinx artists from the American Chicano/Chicana Movement are also represented and include Patssi Valdez, Alfred J. Quiroz, and Luis Alfonso Jimenez, Jr.