In July of 1997 NationsBank, now Bank of America, announced an unprecedented gift to the Mint Museum of Art, totaling 10.5 million dollars. This historic contribution, including real estate and upfit costs, provided for the development of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, which initially opened in January 1999, in the old Montaldo’s building on North Tryon Street.
Shortly thereafter, the Museum invited a group of collectors and art administrators to Charlotte to explore with its staff the feasibility of establishing a national patrons' group. Foremost on the itinerary for the Museum's special guests was a wide-ranging exploratory conversation with museum personnel on the subject of forming a national patrons' group. At the close of the weekend long series of meetings, the decision was made to form Founders’ Circle.
The Museum was launched with a remarkable opening gift from the charter group of Founders’ Circle members. Every member of the group made a cash contribution to join Founders’ Circle and contributed one or more pieces to the Museum. Many who were not collectors but who nevertheless wanted to participate in the Museum's development contributed cash to facilitate acquisitions. The result was the February 26th, 2000 opening of An Inaugural Gift: Founders’ Circle. Collection exhibition, featuring 53 works of art that met with rave reviews. A catalogue commemorating these permanent collection items confirms the extraordinary quality of the collection.
A 501(c)(3) organization, Founders’ Circle operates under an agreement with The Mint Museum that provides financial support from Founders’ Circle goes directly to the Mint Museum of Craft + Design. Today, the MMC+D is enjoying acclaim; and, the Founders’ Circle contributions to both the collection and exhibition sponsorship have played a major role in achieving that acclaim.
Travel and education are the mainstays of the organization. The offerings range from U.S.-based craft exhibitions to visits to private collections and artists' studios. Founders’ Circle members have shared dinner conversations with museum professionals, craft experts and craft makers in Prague, London, Boston, Santa Fe, Seattle and Australia, to name a few of the places visited. Our private collections and the collection of the MMC+D reflect these destinations and the extraordinary access to craft our travel adventures afford.
The years of working and playing together have brought accomplishment, memorable adventures, exciting discoveries and remarkable ongoing friendships. Our greatest asset is our craft community: fellow members who share passion for, and knowledge of, the international craft world. Founders’ Circle Ltd. collections, relationships with artists, museum affiliations and patronage of galleries create an energy and environment of enthusiastic learning and inclusion that benefits the Mint Museum of Craft + Design and makes our time together vibrant, informed and fun.
We welcome aspiring collectors, seasoned experts, artists, galleries and the craft-curious.