SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A local Santa Fe couple is doing everything they can to keep the arts alive here in New Mexico, donating millions of dollars to keep them funded. For Robert and Ellen Vladem when they see a gap they fill it, especially when it comes to the arts. “The arts are under siege. If they’re not funded by individuals, it’s not going to happen,” said Robert.
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So they decided to make it happen. Donating to New Mexico museums and even the opera house in Santa Fe. “It’s probably the most important thing we do,” said Robert.
While most people would consider a contribution of fifty dollars or maybe even a couple hundred, the Vladems are writing checks in the millions. “In the last eight years something over fifteen million dollars,” said Robert.
Fifteen million dollars could buy you one of the most expensive properties in Minnesota. 18-thousand square feet, five bedrooms, nine bathrooms, five fireplaces, and the list goes on and on.
For the Vladems that’s just not necessary. “If people simply just lock it away in their houses and only their friends get to see if it doesn’t seem to make as much sense for Ellen and I,” said Robert.
Instead of a lavish lifestyle only they would be able to appreciate they would rather share it with others. “Art needs to be for everyone,” said Robert.
Right now, their pride and joy is the work in progress that will be the Vladem Contemporary Museum. “We were surprised that there was no collecting contemporary museum in New Mexico,” said Robert. So they are making one.
Donating four million to the project and getting to leave not only their name but a mark on the community. “We saw a need that this needed to be done,” said Ellen.
The Vladem Contemporary Museum started construction earlier this year located across the street from the Santa Fe Railyard.