While unfortunately (or fortunately) the Cameron Art Museum (CAM) is not the setting of the newest Nicholas Sparks’ novel, it is entwined in a few love stories of its very own. Upon admission to the museum’s annual meeting on May 16, every attendee was handed a love letter. I did eventually recover from the shocking conclusion that the letter wasn’t written to me but rather to a nonagenarian.
“Not again,” I whispered to myself, restraining the tears.
The letter was from the acting director of CAM, Anne Brennan, and the recipient was none other than Bruce Barclay Cameron Jr., the man who donated $4 million to the museum nearly 10 years ago. I know what you’re thinking: “He only did it because he and the museum share the same name.” Not true. Anne Brennan’s love letter explains his motivations best:“Love. Love of his town, his home . . . And a love even greater than that for his home is that which he still holds dear for his late wife, Louise Wells Cameron. It is her name that he commemorates, not his . . . ”
The staff updated attendees about the Connections Alzheimer’s tours, the free fifth-grade tours, Clay Studio classes, Museum School courses, Cross-City Trail partnership, public programs and exhibitions.
Following the presentation was a “special announcement”—technically, from what I overheard, the crab cakes and the announcement were the two big draws. (Trust me, those crab cakes could have had a whole meeting on their own.)
The presentation was punctuated by Dee Scarborough’s rally for continued support of the free fifth-grade tours. Being a local teacher, she explained that she not only has children in her class that haven’t been to an art museum, but some haven’t been to the ocean! Following her speech, Bank of America committed to the funding of an additional year of free admissions for the fifth-graders.
On a personal note, I remember exactly three things about my fifth-grade year: 1. Every line from “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”; 2. Joseph Russell, whose name would grace the museum of my choice; and 3. My class field trip to a local art museum and how mind-blowing that experience was (imagine DaVinci’s “Vitruvian Man” from an 11-year-old’s perspective).
There was also an exciting announcement about the brand-new partnership of CAM with Wilmington’s beloved Folks Café. The museum will offer Folks’ signature homemade Argentinean pastries and freshly roasted coffee on Friday mornings.
Really, does life get any better?
After everyone clapped for the 36th time, we all edged closer for the big juicy reveal. Frances Goodman, the chair of CAM’s Board of Directors, casually took the podium and dropped a big old philanthropy bomb on Wilmington.
“To celebrate our 10th anniversary, Bruce Cameron issued a matching challenge grant of up to $1 million until June 30, 2012.” She called for questions, and either the audience was too flabbergasted or too hungry, but further information went unsolicited.
Immediately, I understood the significance of the love letter to Mr. Cameron. In these frugal times, rarely do community arts organizations have the fortune of receiving such generous donations and support. Plenty of community programs would be willing to do much more (maybe even unsavory things) for a lot less. Anne Brennan’s affectionate and poetic letter speaks to the nature of Mr. Cameron’s altruism. He loves the Cameron Art Museum—and the staff and members love him right back.
And I loved those crab cakes. Though, I’m not sure how they feel about me.