Once again, the Payne family has come forward to assist the University of Montana.

This time, the family generously donated $5.1 million will jump start fundraising to build a new home to house the deepest holdings of art in the state and among the oldest in the Northwest.

Director of the University of Montana Museum of Art and Culture Rafael Chacon provided details from his farm in Moiese on Friday.

“We have this remarkable collection,” began Chacon. “We have the largest and the deepest collection of art in the State of Montana. It belongs to the citizens of Montana, and certainly being located at the University of Montana, it’s an incredible resource for our community and our student body. So, we’re very pleased that finally, after many, many years of waiting, that we have an opportunity to build a facility worthy of that collection.”

Chacon said the collection has been growing for nearly as long as Montana has been a state.

“The collection next year will celebrate its sesquicentennial, its 125th anniversary,” he said. “It’s taken quite a long time for this collection to come together, but the idea of having a unified facility goes back to the late 1940’s, so as you can see it’s been a long time in coming and so we’re very excited to be at this date.”

Chacon said the gift from the Payne family will help to jumpstart fundraising to build the new museum.

“The fact is that we will not be able to build the entire facility with $5 million dollars,” he said. “If you know about how the Payne family has traditionally given to the university, they are very much about team building and bringing others into the project, so we expect that other donors will join up and help make this a reality.”

University officials will determine the campus location and design of the facility in the coming months.

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