Longtime Chapman supporters Donald and Deedee Sodaro
Longtime Chapman supporters Donald and Deedee Sodaro are proud to support their friends, Mark and Janet Hilbert, with a gift to name the South Wing of the Hilbert Museum of California Art.

$1 Million Gift from Donald and Deedee Sodaro to Name the South Wing of the Hilbert Museum

As the Hilbert Museum of California Art enjoys its grand expansion opening on Feb. 23, one wing of the museum now has a new name: Thanks to a $1 million gift, the Donald E. and Felicity Sodaro South Wing of the Hilbert Museum is named after longtime Chapman University supporters Donald and Deedee Sodaro.

“We are excited to be a part of the vision for the newly re-opened Hilbert Museum,” Donald and Deedee stated. “The museum is such an incredible asset to Chapman and the local community, and we could not be prouder to support our friends, Mark and Janet Hilbert, in their passion for storytelling through narrative art.”

Visitors to the spaciously reimagined expansion of the Hilbert Museum will now find a striking new two-building ensemble offering 26 galleries for rotating displays of the more than 5,000 oils, watercolors, illustrations, drawings, pieces of movie production art and more.

“The Sodaro family’s philanthropic gifts continue to wow me,” said Chapman President Daniele C. Struppa, Ph.D. “The Hilbert Museum appeals to so many people, and I know how pleased Don and Deedee are to contribute to such an uplifting story.”

There will be three Grand Opening exhibitions in the Donald E. and Felicity Sodaro South Wing, all on display starting Feb. 23 through Aug. 3, 2024:

  • A selection of 40 original paintings by Millard Sheets, perhaps the most celebrated of California 20th-century artists.
  • A Matter of Style: Modernism in California Art features works from Agnes Pelton, Stanton MacDonald-Wright, Roger Kuntz, Helen Lundeberg, Conrad Buff and others.
  • Emigdio Vasquez: Works from the Fred Ortiz Collection memorialize the acclaimed California Chicano artist, muralist and teacher.

“We are extremely grateful to Donald and Deedee for their gift to the Hilbert Museum,” said Mary Platt, museum director. “I hope they will visit for many years to come and enjoy all the many things the museum offers.”

Donald was a member of Chapman’s Board of Trustees since 1988 and served as Chairman from 2002 to 2012. During his tenure as Board Chair, he oversaw significant accomplishments that propelled Chapman forward with unprecedented growth and expansion, such as establishing new schools and colleges, opening key facilities and hiring distinguished faculty.

As a member of Chapman’s President’s Circle, Charles C. Chapman Legacy Society and Musco Center for the Arts Founder, the Sodaro family has been recognized for their philanthropic endeavors as a testament to their commitment to Chapman. Several spaces on campus bear the Sodaro name, including the Sodaro Promenade, Sodaro-Caine Information Technology Learning Center, Donald and Felicity Sodaro Arch, Sodaro-Pankey Undergraduate School of Media Arts, Sodaro-Pankey Digital Arts Center, Donald E. and Deedee Sodaro Box Suite, Pralle-Sodaro Hall, Sodaro Family Classroom and now the Donald E. and Felicity Sodaro South Wing of the Hilbert Museum.

“Chapman would not be what it is today without the vision and leadership of Donald and Deedee,” said Matt Parlow, executive vice president and chief advancement officer. “Their legacy was already set in stone, but now continues with this latest gift to the Hilbert Museum.”

The Sodaro’s gift bolsters Chapman’s strategic plan goal to raise $500 million through its Inspire Campaign, of which more than $372 million has been raised.

For more information about the Hilbert Museum and to reserve your free admission, visit hilbertmuseum.org.

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