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Giving Tuesday: Pearl S. Fincher Museum launches campaign to pay off remaining loan

November 28, 2018

The Pearl S. Fincher Museum of Fine Arts had been working to pay off its original building loan for nearly 10 years when Hurricane Harvey hit.

The museum, the Barbara Bush Library, the Precinct 4, Place 1 Justice of the Peace courthouse and neighboring businesses were damaged by Harvey’s floodwaters. The museum closed its doors to the public for nearly 15 months as it underwent renovations.

After finally reopening in November, the Pearl S. Fincher Museum of Fine Arts announced that annonymous donors agreed to a dollar-for-dollar donation match, up to $100,000, in an effort to help completely pay off the building loan.

As part of this year’s global #GivingTuesday initiative on Nov. 27, the museum promoted its “Burn the Note” campaign, which seeks to reach a goal of $96,500 in donations. The fundraising campaign will go on until January 31, 2019.

The museum was originally planned in 2007 with a $1.6 million cost, half of which was donated up front. The Pearl MFA has been paying off the remaining $825,000 for about a decade, said director of development, Clara Lewis. In an e-mail, the museum stated the loan was used to renovate the building where it is now located and currently has a remaining balance of $193,000.

“We are in the homestretch. Once we get that paid off, that just means we will be able to direct more money to programming rather than paying off that original note,” she said.

The museum does not charge admission. It hosts fundraising events and offers memberships throughout the year to pay for classes and outreach.

“We have a huge outreach for children and students. That’s very expensive getting them in there and instructional materials, developing the curriculum and the projects that they do when they’re there. Some of the students that we reach are economically disadvantaged,” Lewis said.

While the museum nearly lost all of its members during the closure, Lewis said she hopes it will regain more now that it has reopened.

After the remaining debt is paid off, the museum expects to focus on educational initiatives, such as classes, art materials and instructors.

“It’s not free, so we have to raise money for that,” she said.

To donate to the Pearl S. Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, visit www.pearlmfa.org or call 281-376-6322 for more information.

mayra.cruz@chron.com

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