Steve and Frosene Zeis, of Asheville, have given the North Carolina Museum of Art $1 million to establish an endowment to support the museum classical collection. In recognition of the gift, the museum will name the Classical Court, in the museum’s new gallery building and scheduled for completion in late 2009, in their honor.
The gift will support the museum’s curatorial activities, educational programs, and conservation of its Greek and Roman art, museum director Lawrence J. Wheeler said. It will also allow the museum to acquire new pieces.
The Steve and Frosene Zeis Classical Court will border the new gallery building’s north courtyard overlooking a linear pool of water and will hold many of the museum’s large marble sculptures, mosaic floor and Greek vases.
“Our gift is an opportunity to share our love of the museum with many,” Steve Zeis said. “Art is important to all people because of its ability to inspire and educate. The North Carolina Museum of Art is one of the great cultural institutions in the state.”
The Zeises’ involvement with the museum began in fall 2005 after they attended a fundraising event in Asheville sponsored by Mary Easley, the first lady of North Carolina, and the museum’s Friends of Greek Art, an affiliate membership group devoted to preserving and enhancing the museum's collection of classical art. The couple quickly became involved with the group, and their initial contribution helped purchase the first work of art - an ancient Greek krater vase.
“When we first visited the museum, we were so impressed,” Frosene Zeis said. “It is a jewel for all the people of the state, and I became passionate about sharing how wonderful the museum is.”
Steve Zeis, a 1962 graduate of the N.C. State University’s College of Textiles, grew up in Turkey and came to the United States from Istanbul in 1957 to attend the university. The couple moved to Asheville in 1965 when he was recruited by Northrop Carolina as it diversified into textile machinery.
In 1983, the couple established their own company - ZTM Sales and Service Inc. Steve Zeis handled the technical sales side, representing many prominent European manufacturers of textile and plastic machinery throughout much of North America. Frosene Zeis managed the business side.
The museum’s expansion initiative includes construction of a new 127,000-square-foot building to house the permanent collection, as well as renovations to the existing 1983 Edward Durrell Stone building. In December 2006 the museum officially broke ground on the new gallery building, designed by New York architectural firm, Thomas Phifer and Partners.
There are some interesting items in the collection (no provenances given on the website, alas)...