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Melva Bucksbaum (1933–2015)

Melva Bucksbaum, the vice chairman of the Whitney Museum of American Art, has passed away. With her husband Raymond Learsy, Bucksbaum lived in the midst of a 400-piece collection that included work by Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Serra, David Salle, and Nan Goldin. They were active on the boards of multiple institutions: She served as a trustee of the Aspen Institute, the American friends of the Israel Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Bucksbaum also sat on the international council of the Museum of Modern Art, the international committee of Tate Gallery, and the Committee on collections of Harvard University. As the manager of the Martin Bucksbaum Family Foundation, she and her family endowed the Martin Bucksbaum professorship in urban planning and design, a chaired role in the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. She was also the namesake of the Bucksbaum Award, a $100,000 prize inaugurated in 2000 given every other year to a Whitney Biennial artist (Sarah Michelson, Michael Asher, and Zoe Leonard were the most recent winners).

Artist Pat Steir said of the couple, “They support artists, even new ones. They buy according to their hearts, and they have good ones.”