Beatrice Cummings Mayer

1921–2018

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The MCA grieves the loss of a passionate supporter and Life Trustee of more than four decades, Beatrice “Buddy” Cummings Mayer, who passed away on September 15, 2018.

Buddy and her late husband, Robert B. Mayer, were instrumental in founding the MCA. They selflessly devoted their time and energy to cultivating the museum into the world-class institution that it is today. The Mayers were independent, confident, and enthusiastic collectors who traveled the world in pursuit of groundbreaking contemporary art. Their historic North Shore home, Edgecliff, was like a private museum where they lived among artworks by some of the greatest 20th-century artists. According to Buddy, “Edgecliff became like a community arts center, open to neighborhood kids and elderly amateurs, to the uninitiated and the underserved.” The Mayers hosted benefits of all types there, including one of the first major fundraising events for a nascent MCA in the mid-1960s.

Robert was a founding trustee of the MCA, and, after his untimely passing in 1974, Buddy joined the board, supporting and guiding the museum’s development for decades to come. Her numerous gifts of art to the museum’s permanent collection include seminal works by Andy Warhol, Lee Bontecou, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra, Robert Morris, and Frank Stella, to name just a few. Buddy served on many committees during her time on the board, but it was in the MCA’s educational initiatives and accessibility efforts that her passions for advocacy and collecting converged. She and her family generously named the Robert B. and Beatrice C. Mayer Education Center—now integral to the MCA’s learning and public programs—the lead gift that helped make the dream of the museum’s current building a reality. Buddy’s late son, Robert N. Mayer, was also a devoted supporter of education, and in 2016, Buddy endowed the Dr. Robert Nathan Mayer Director of Learning and Public Programs position in his memory.

The MCA is heartbroken over the loss of Buddy Mayer. She was a constant friend and a joy to be with. Her legacy will remain in the hearts and minds of her friends, MCA staff, and the visitors she honored.

Collage of Beatrice Cummings Mayer

Left: Buddy Mayer at the opening of Selections from the Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Robert B. Mayer, July 1968. Right: Buddy Mayer at the Benefit Art Auction, October 2015, MCA Chicago.