February 7, 2023
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Eichholz Foundation gives $5.5M to museum


The Eichholz Foundation has recently granted $5.5 million to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to fund the museum’s director position.

Mercedes Eichholz formed the foundation on behalf of herself and her late husband Robert to support the arts. In a news release, Eichholz said the foundation decided to fund the director position to add stability to the museum. “I hope this will encourage, even challenge, others in the community to step up and underwrite curatorial positions at the museum or otherwise contribute to its endowment fund,” she said in the release.

Larry Feinherg currently holds the director post, and he is now known as the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Director. “This is a major, transformative gift for the museum—it not only greatly helps the institution financially, but also an endowed director’s chair elevates SBMA’s stature,” Feinberg said in the release.

SBMA, a privately funded nonprofit organization, is approaching its 75th anniversary. Board of trustees chair Ken Anderson said the foundation’s gift will help the museum reach the goals it set for that landmark birthday.

The Eichholz family has supported the arts for decades. Mercedes and Robert joined the museum when they moved to Santa Barbara in 1979, and Mercedes became a trustee in 1985 and served as board president from 2001 to 2003. Since 1989, she has been a part of the Arts Endowment Committee, which is responsible for acquiring the museum’s art.