Linda Jacknowitz and her late husband Art added to their legacy of service and giving at West Virginia University with a significant planned gift to support the Art Museum of WVU’s educational outreach programs.
“This is a truly transformational gift for the Art Museum of WVU,” said Director Todd J. Tubutis. “Linda’s foresight in dedicating her and Art’s legacy to support a graduate assistantship means we contribute not only to the educational mission of the University, but we will also be able to build capacity in serving greater numbers of K-12 students in north central West Virginia.”
Linda and Art Jacknowitz were born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where there was an abundance of free access to cultural programming. For Linda Jacknowitz, her time spent visiting museums with family was the beginning of a life-long love and appreciation for the arts.
“My working-class, blue-collar parents made great use of the free cultural offerings that New York had to offer,” Jacknowitz said. “For me, that meant many trips to the Brooklyn Museum, where we would look at art or take in the free classical music concerts the museum hosted on Sunday afternoons. It was a great opportunity for a working class family who didn't have a lot of discretionary income to open the eyes of their two young daughters to the cultural riches of the world.”
Linda and Art Jacknowitz moved to Morgantown for Art to join the faculty in WVU’s School of Pharmacy.
“We began traveling a lot, mostly in the beginning to professional conferences and meetings, which gave us access to museums all over,” Jacknowitz said. “It really sparked an interest in Art and continued my own passion.”
While Linda was oftentimes happy just to absorb the visual beauty of the works she saw, Art always dove into exhibit catalogs and learned all he could about every piece the couple saw. Today, Linda holds on to the large collection of museum catalogs the couple compiled throughout the years.
As the couple got ready to retire, Former Dean and Professor Emeritus of Art History Bernie Schultz encouraged Art to get involved with the new Art Museum of WVU.
“It was as if a light switch went off and Art embraced that opportunity with enthusiasm, joy and such zeal to share the riches of the art museum,” Jacknowitz said. “Art really took to being a docent and he worked hard at it, the same way he worked hard at making sure that every lecture that he ever gave in the classroom was the best that it could be.”
Linda and Art Jacknowitz began their giving legacy at the museum in 2016 when they established the Abby Robin Jacknowitz School Travel Fund in memory of their niece. The fund pays for buses to and from primary and secondary schools, customized programs at various grade levels, snacks and art supplies for hands-on activities during school visits to the museum.
Before Art’s passing, the couple spoke about continuing their legacy with a gift to further support the art museum’s educational priorities.
“Art and I really valued what both education and art brought to our lives,” Jacknowitz said. “We felt strongly that in a state like West Virginia, where access to culturally diverse materials could be hard to come by, that it was important to help ensure that access for others.”
For Linda Jacknowitz, finalizing the gift was a part of honoring her husband’s memory.
“I really feel like I'm channeling Art’s love for our wonderful art museum,” Jacknowitz said. “We felt privileged to find our home in West Virginia, a physical place in the universe — a beautiful, warm, embracing place. I feel fortunate to be in a position to make this gift and I hope it encourages other people to think about how they too can give back to enrich and sustain the university.”
The gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the fundraising arm of the University that solicits and administers private support on behalf of WVU.