Academy Museum Gets Major Boost With $50 Million Gift From Haim Saban

Bob Iger, CEO of Disney and
Michael Buckner/Variety

Haim and Cheryl Saban will donate $50 million to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, the largest contribution the project has received to date.

The Academy has struggled to raise funds while the cost of the project has ballooned in recent years. The Saban contribution brings the fundraising total to $288 million — still $100 million shy of the project’s $388 million budget.

The Academy announced that the 1939 May Company building, the five-story structure that will house the museum’s exhibits, will be renamed the Saban Building.

This is the first contribution announced since the departure of chief fundraiser Bill Kramer nearly two years ago. The Academy hired Katharine DeShaw to take Kramer’s position in 2016.

The Academy also announced the formation of a new board to oversee the project, which will be chaired by Universal vice chairman Ron Meyer.

“We could not be happier with the momentum the museum is experiencing on all fronts,” Kerry Brougher, the museum’s director, said in a statement. “We are thankful to Cheryl and Haim Saban and to Ron Meyer for their vital support and leadership in bringing the Academy Museum to the world.”

Above: The Academy Museum construction site photographed in June 2017; Below: The construction site photographed in September 2017. Michael Buckner/Variety

In 2013, the Academy announced that David Geffen had contributed $25 million to the project. The Dalian Wanda Group also gave $20 million.

The project was initially slated to open in 2017.

More recently, the Academy projected that the museum would open in April 2019, or in the “spring of 2019.” At one point, the Academy hoped to open shortly after the 2019 Oscar broadcast, which would provide a promotional opportunity.

However, in today’s materials the Academy now says only that the project will open sometime in 2019 — signaling a potential delay.