ROM Governors

Robert Ellsworth's Legacy in the Making

Patrons explore the ROM's Chinese collections

A Crowning Gift from the King of Ming

A celebrated collector and benefactor of Asian art, Robert Ellsworth will forever advance new acquisitions and knowledge at the ROM through a $10.3-million bequest.

Ellsworth was born in New York City at the onset of the Great Depression in 1929. His inspiring story took its most fortuitous turn when as a young boy, he met Alice Boney, a prominent art dealer. Under her tutelage, he developed his early fascination with antiquity into a distinguished career and pioneered new arenas of collection and scholarship in Chinese art—achievements that saw him lauded as the “King of Ming” by The New York Times.

Following his passing in 2014, Ellsworth’s legacy culminated in a transformational gift to the ROM. An avid patron and scholar of the arts during his lifetime, Ellsworth was a passionate advocate who believed that collections not only should be widely shared with the public but also should be treated as source material, made available for the study of art and culture.

Now, through an endowment fund established through his estate, Ellsworth’s vision will be reaffirmed at the ROM, and his legacy will impact visitors for generations to come.

“Robert admired the quality of the ROM’s collections, having worked with the Museum’s curators,” says Masa Hashiguchi, Ellsworth’s partner and estate executor. “He was proud to include the ROM in his will, among other prestigious institutions, including the Met, Harvard, Yale, and NYU.”

By supporting new acquisitions and storage of Chinese art and cultural objects, this fund will help elevate the ROM’s renowned East Asian collections to impressive new heights, greatly expanding exhibition and programming possibilities for audiences.

To ensure that the ROM is able to uncover the deepseated insights within these objects for museumgoers today and tomorrow, the fund will also permanently secure the curatorial resources necessary to expound new knowledge.

“The ROM is truly grateful for this profound gesture of generosity,” says Josh Basseches, ROM Director & CEO. “Not only does this gift signify the status of the ROM’s collections on the global stage, it also underscores the Museum’s immense potential to continue transforming scholarship in Chinese art for audiences worldwide.”