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Museum Endowment Funds

The new Museum of Natural History is celebrating four new endowment funds! Long-time generous donors have established the following endowments that will provide growing and long-term impact and support for programs that align with their interests.

  • Jack Daball Museum Programs Fund
  • David L. DeBruyn Digital Dome Theater Student Internship Fund
  • Larsen Family Exhibit Fund
  • Dr. Eileen Starr Hands-On Science Fund

Endowment funds help secure the future of Museum programs for generations to come. If you’re interested in contributing to any of these endowments or would like to discuss establishing a fund in your name, please contact Nora Webber at or 734-936-5834.

Additional opportunities for community support are coming soon!


Learn About Our Recent Museum Endowments!

Jack Daball Museum Programs Fund

John (Jack) Daball doesn’t remember the first time he visited the U-M Museum of Natural History—or as he knew it, the Exhibit Museum—but he fondly remembers spending many hours in the galleries during his time as a College of Literature, Science and the Arts undergraduate and Library Sciences graduate student in the 1940s and 1950s. The Museum continues to be one of his favorite stops when he is in town.

Jack made his first donation to the Museum in 1998 and has continued to make annual donations ever since. He enjoyed participating in the Museum’s Buy-A-Bone campaigns, helping establish and sustain the Butterfly and Pollinator Garden, and providing Museum field trips for underserved school children.

Jack often commented that he wished he could do more for the Museum, so we began discussing the idea of establishing an endowment fund in his name. He decided to establish the Jack Daball Museum Program Fund to support his favorite programs today and tomorrow.

On several occasions, Jack noted how helpful the Museum’s student docents have been when he’s visited, how important it is to him that we continue to care for the Butterfly and Pollinator Garden, and that underserved students have access to the Museum. The Jack Daball Museum Program Fund will provide funding for programs such as these in perpetuity, and the endowment and program support will grow over time.

“I didn’t realize that a donor at my level could have such a great impact,” Jack said on several occasions.


David L. DeBruyn Digital Dome Theater Student Internship Fund

David DeBruyn’s lifelong interest in astronomy began at a very early age, and he credits his work as a student planetarium operator at the Exhibit Museum (former name of theU­-M Museum of Natural History) for helping him pursue his life passion and setting him on his career path.

In order to provide opportunities for students with similar interests, DeBruyn has established the David L. DeBruyn Digital Dome Theater Student Internship Fund at the new U­-M Museum of Natural History, scheduled to open in 2019.

“This seemed like an appropriate opportunity for me to give back to an institution for which I still have fond affection, and also to share with future generations my passion for planetarium work,” said DeBruyn.“I hope that this gift provides ongoing support and can be built on over time.”

Following his graduation from U-­M in 1963, DeBruyn was hired as the Chief Curator of the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, where he served for close to 40 years. Although “officially” retired for more than a decade, he remains active in the Great Lakes Planetarium Association (which he co-­founded), and as president of the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association. He has written regular astronomy articles for the Grand Rapids Press for more than 50 years.

“Formal educational opportunities for a planetarium career are limited,” said Matthew Linke, UMMNH Planetarium Manager. “The DeBruyn Internship will help fill the need by providing a unique experience to learn about the operation of a planetarium.”


Larsen Family Exhibit Fund

As a child, Andrea Larsen Scott’s parents and brother were avid “rock hounds” who enjoyed hunting fossils and minerals throughout the State of Michigan. Andrea recalls many vacations and day trips that centered around her family’s passion. And while her family hunted, Andrea enjoyed sitting in the car, reading her books.

So when Andrea donated $50,000 to establish The Larsen Family Exhibit Endowment Fund at the U-M Museum of Natural History, she wanted her gift to support geology with an emphasis on Michigan rocks and minerals to honor her family’s avocation. Her gift will support a changing exhibit of mineral specimens which will be displayed in the new Museum when it opens in 2019. “I have such fond memories of visiting the Museum as a child, and as a Michigan student,” said Andrea.“I'm thrilled to make this gift in honor of my family.”

With her gift, Andrea ensures that future generations of Museum visitors will have the opportunity to see and learn about the geologic treasures that were so loved by her parents and brother.

Museum staff and U-M scientists are already planning exhibits for the new Museum to present U-M’s world-class mineral collections with the latest scientific information, and The Larsen Family Exhibit Endowment will provide greater flexibility for changing and updating the exhibits.

"Andrea has graciously given her time, expertise and friendship as the Chair of our Board of Advisors. This generous gift will ensure that her love of the Museum is shared with visitors of all ages for years to come," said Amy Harris, Museum director. "We can't thank her enough for her generosity."