Home Community Rothco Chapel Awarded $1 million Grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF)

Rothco Chapel Awarded $1 million Grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF)

The Rothko Chapel campus in Montrose. Photos: COURTESY OF ROTHKO CHAPEN


The Rothko Chapel announced on April 22 that it has received a $1 million grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), the international philanthropic organization that supports a wide variety of projects and nonprofits in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and sports, and social welfare. This gift is designated to help fund a multi-use community and education space in the Chapel’s new Program Center. A critical part of Phase Two of the Chapel’s multi-year Opening Spaces campus restoration and expansion campaign, the Program Center will support the expansion of the Chapel’s mission-driven community engagement programming.

The Rothko Chapel’s ‘Opening Spaces’ campaign is anchored by a campus plan that centers on how best to address the ever-increasing interest in and visitation to the Chapel. Central to the plan are the restoration of the Chapel to its founders’ original intent and the creation of new indoor and outdoor spaces to enhance the visitor experience and support mission expansion at the intersection of art, spirituality, and human rights. The first phase of the plan was completed in 2020 and construction for phase two was scheduled to begin in April of 2024.

The campus expansion will see the construction of a 6,600-square-foot administration and archives building overlooking a central plaza.

Phase One involved the complete restoration of the Chapel building – the first comprehensive renewal since it was first built – including a new skylight, lighting and AV systems, structural reinforcements, and modifications to the entryway and foyer. Phase One also involved major landscape and infrastructure improvements, as well as the construction of the new Suzanne Deal Booth Welcome House.

Phase Two will include a new meditation garden, a guest bungalow to provide dedicated housing for Chapel speakers and fellows, and the construction of two new buildings on the north side of the campus, an Administration and Archives Building and the Program Center. The Center will anchor the Chapel’s new North Campus and host a broad range of public programs and initiatives centered on education, social justice, leadership development, spirituality, and intercommunity dialogue. When completed in 2026, the North Campus will offer dedicated indoor and outdoor multi-use spaces for programming and community gatherings, bolstered by critical infrastructure and state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment.

‘Opening Spaces’ Chairman Christopher Rothko said: “The community and education space in the new Program Center will transform the depth and breadth of our community engagement, and will further learning, civic discourse, and activism focused on societal transformation. We are greatly appreciative of this generous grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and its support in achieving these goals.”

A 3,800-square-foot program center will have a 200-person multipurpose meeting room.

“This grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation will support the Chapel’s dual mission as a space of both contemplation and action,” said David Leslie, Executive Director of the Rothko Chapel. “When Phase Two is completed, we hope our campus will become an even more important global destination and center for thoughtful reflection, cultural engagement, and expansive dialogue among our growing community.”

The ‘Opening Spaces’ campaign has raised more than $27 million of the $36 million total to date with the help of private donors and local, national, and international foundations. The initial phase of the campaign received major contributions from numerous foundations, including the Houston Endowment, The Brown Foundation, Inc., The Cullen Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and The John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation, as well as individuals including Lynn Wyatt and Suzanne Deal Booth.

Since its founding in 1996 by Stavros S. Niarchos, SNF has provided more than 5,400 grants to nonprofit organizations in 134 countries totaling over $3.7 billion. At the core of its mission are a fundamentally collaborative approach to creating positive change based on the expertise of partners on the ground, a commitment to public-private partnership, and a belief that everyone should have access to art, education, health care, and life’s other essentials.

Rothko Chapel with Barnett Newman’s “Broken Obelisk” in the foreground.