Huntington gets arts endowment

Steve Martin, an actor and writer with an unusually sharp eye for art, has given $1 million to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens to support exhibitions and acquisitions of American art. The gift will be made over five years, with three-quarters of the money to be spent on exhibitions and the rest on purchases of artworks.

Martin’s donation will support the program at the Huntington’s new wing for American art. Called the Lois and Robert F. Erburu Gallery, in honor of the Huntington trustee emeritus and former Times Mirror chairman and his wife, the 16,000-square-foot space is expected to open in May.

“This gift allows us to do things we couldn’t afford to do otherwise,” said Jessica Smith, curator of American art, noting that the Huntington does not have an endowment for exhibitions and acquisitions. “We have a wonderful group of supporters,” she said, “but it is particularly heartening when someone outside of that circle understands what we are trying to do.”