Leon and Debra Black at the Museum of Modern Art on May 31. Photo: Andrew Toth / The Museum of Modern Art.

New York’s Museum of Modern Art Gifted $40 Million from Leon and Debra Black

At the Museum of Modern Art’s annual film benefit on Monday, November 19, the institution’s board chair Leon Black and his wife, Debra, revealed that they plan to donate $40 million to MoMA’s ongoing expansion project. The $400 million refurbishment will increase exhibition space by 30 percent and add flexible spaces dedicated to contemporary design, performance, and film.

In honor of the gift, MoMA announced that it will create the Debra and Leon Black Family Film Center, comprising multimedia galleries and two state-of-the-art theaters, in the Ronald and Jo Carole Lauder Building. “Throughout its remarkable 89-year history, MoMA has established the highest reputation in building a great film library, being at the forefront of film conservation, and leading the way with groundbreaking film openings,” Leon Black said in a statement. “As a lifelong lover of film, my family and I are honored to have our name associated with the Film Center of this great institution.”

Leon Black has served as a trustee of the museum since 1997 and as cochairman of the board since 2015; he was named board chair in May. The Blacks’ gift follows a number of major donations in support of the institution’s capital campaign, including a $50 million donation from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation in June of last year. MoMA’s expansion project will be completed in 2019.