Two financially troubled West Coast museums are finishing the first week of the new year with lifelines.

The Seattle Art Museum (right), you’ll remember, suffered when the primary tenant of its new building, Washington Mutual, failed in 2008. After getting a $10 million gift from J.P. Morgan Chase, which bought WaMu at the instigation of the federal government, SAM still needed another $17 million to retire its debt.

Yesterday the Puget Sound Business Journal reported that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave SAM a $5.5 million gift in November, which went unannounced until now. SAM has raised another $2.5 million from other donors. But it must still find another $9 million to pay off its debt.

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Judith H. Dobrzynski
Real Clear Arts

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