Citizen’s Gift to City

Filed under Charity & Non-profit, Community, News ~ by Press on  1 Jun 2020

The Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation (NAGF) are joint beneficiaries of a $20 million bequest. 

The parting gift to the city was in the will of Valerie Ryan, who died last November aged 94.

Valerie and her husband John Ryan were supporters of both HMRI and the Newcastle Art Gallery.

John Ryan (2009) established a coat hanger factory in Newcastle. Valerie owned a ballet store and taught at TAFE.

They were a devoted couple who valued hard work, sharing good times with friends and were great fun to be around,” said their niece, Megan MacManus

Valerie loved many things – her family, her friends and her travels.  She was passionate about art and culture, knowledge and Newcastle. 

She chose the Art Gallery and HMRI to donate this wonderful gift because she believed they would do great things for the City she loved.  The outcome of these bequests will be a wonderful legacy to this amazing couple.”

Valerie Ryan’s association with HMRI started after her husband’s death when she approached the Institute about funding medical research.

HMRI Institute Director, Professor Tom Walley, said the true value of the Valerie and John Ryan Bequest was immeasurable.

“This extraordinary legacy will have a huge impact for HMRI and the health of the community we serve.

This gift is truly transformative and will make a significant difference to research here at HMRI for many years to come. HMRI is built on generous donations from our community and every dollar makes a difference to improving health outcomes.”

Valerie became an Art Gallery Foundation member in 2009 and Governor in 2014

The share portfolio bequest will be held in trust by the Foundation and dedicated to Newcastle Art Gallery’s collection or building-expansion project, which would more than double the facility’s exhibition space to enable more works of art from the 6,750-strong collection to be displayed.

Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation Chair Suzie Galwey said the Valerie and John Ryan Bequest would have an enduring impact on the cultural life of the city they loved.

Valerie was a generous donor to the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation during her lifetime achieving the highest level of Foundation Governor in 2014.

She loved attending Gallery events and contributed to a range of projects including the commissioning of the Stuart and Sons piano and the purchase of important works by the artists Joseph Lycett, William Dobell and Brett Whiteley,” she said.

Director of Newcastle Art Gallery, Lauretta Morton, said the Gallery was humbled by the significant bequest of Valerie and John Ryan.

“It is through their incredible and continued generosity that important works of art for the city’s collection have been made possible.

We are thrilled that through this extraordinary gift to Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation the legacy of Valerie and John Ryan will continue to benefit their beloved Gallery and community for future generations,” she said.

Newcastle Art Gallery in 2009 showing car park and demolished structure, site of proposed gallery extension.

On behalf of all Novocastrians, I would like to extend profound thanks to the Ryan family for this remarkable pledge, which will stand as a wonderful legacy to the lives of Valerie and John Ryan,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

If the valuable bequest is dedicated to the Gallery’s expansion, it could significantly bolster our efforts to seek state and federal funding to finally get on with the $36 million project.

It will extend the 43-year-old building east and along Darby Street to Queen Street with a stunning glass façade that will draw people into a new street-level café, retail shop and exhibition space below a sprawling first-floor area.

The Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation and the community have already raised more than $1.2 million for the Gallery’s expansion, which will take between 18 and 24 months to complete when work begins.

Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation is an independent charity that provides philanthropic support to Newcastle Art Gallery.

Source ~ HMRI and City of Newcastle

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