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Kansas Couple’s Donation Gives Teens Free Visits to Art Institute of Chicago for the Next 25 Years

By Tim Newcomb | January 19, 2017

Photo: Art Institute Teens
This article is one in a series at The 74 that profiles the heroes, victories, success stories and random acts of kindness to be found at schools all across America. Read more of our recent inspiring profiles at The74million.org/series/inspiring.
You gotta have art — and thanks to a donation from a Kansas couple, Chicago teens now have free access to the Art Institute of Chicago for at least the next quarter-century.
Starting this month, museum admission drops from $14 to $0 for kids ages 14 to 17, thanks to the “extraordinary generosity of Glenn and Claire Swogger and the Redbud Foundation,” the Art Institute says. The museum already offers free admission for children under age 14.
The Kansas couple didn’t disclose the amount of their donation, but Glenn Swogger told WBEZ in Chicago that “we try to find programs that will help people have educational and cultural experiences that will be useful to them and good for society.”
Swogger has a longtime link to the city — he attended the University of Chicago on scholarship at age 16, according to WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. And though he now lives and runs the foundation in Topeka, Kans., he was looking for a way to stay connected to the Windy City.

In 2016, the museum welcomed roughly 20,000 teens, with about 10 percent of them Chicago residents. “We expect to grow that number substantially with the gift and opening our doors,” Amanda Hicks, the museum’s executive director of public affairs, told WTTW. “And I think what’s really nice about this, and I think what appealed to the Swoggers, was that we have a really strong teen infrastructure though our museum education program.”
The institute boasts a five-member teen council that meets weekly to brainstorm with museum officials on how to make the space more attractive for young people. Among the world-famous artists exhibited at the museum are Pablo Picasso, Georges Seurat, Claude Monet, Grant Wood, James McNeill Whistler, and Paul Gauguin.

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