Vale Loti Smorgon

On behalf of the philanthropic sector, Philanthropy Australia gratefully acknowledges the enormous contribution Loti Smorgon has made to the Australian community throughout her lifetime.

Loti Smorgon (nèe Kiffer) immigrated to Melbourne from Poland with her family in the 1920s. Ukrainian-born Victor Smorgon, who Loti would marry in 1937, arrived in Melbourne around the same time with his family.

Loti and her husband shared a desire to give back to the country that had become their home and been so generous to them. Victor explained in a 1998 interview for Film Australia’s Australian Biography Series: “In our case, we settled in Australia and…we felt that we have to pay back our debt, to Victoria particularly, and Australia generally.” (source: BRW)

The couple did this by donating to a vast number of institutions through their Victor and Loti Smorgon Foundation, including, but not limited to, those in the area of Loti’s passion - the arts.

In 2008, Loti donated the largest cash gift ever made to an Australian gallery by an individual, to the National Gallery of Victoria. Of this particular act of generosity, NGV ambassador Geoffrey Rush said: “They [Loti and fellow NGV donor, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch] have thrown down two big, fat cheques… Hopefully it will inspire others to give.”

The Loti and Victor Smorgon Fund also ensures that the NGV can afford to maintain its stellar reputation by purchasing important works of art.

Loti was an avid art collector, but also “[saw] the value in works being made available to the public,” as her grandson, Peter Edwards, explained. This led Loti to donate items from their personal collection and even their own home, including the Victor and Loti Smorgon Collection of Contemporary Australian Art, consisting of 154 works, donated to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, in 1995.

More recently in 2012, Loti visited the Royal Children’s Hospital (above)  to view the portrait of herself and Victor, which is hung in the hospital as a “permanent reminder of their generosity and philanthropic leadership.” The Smorgons were long term supporters of the Royal Children’s Hospital, as well as the Melbourne Eye and Ear Hospital, the Peter Mac Centre, the Australian Council for Children and Youth Organisations, the Sony Foundation, and also the Premier’s Award for Research, with an annual $30,000 bequest. 

Victor and Loti passed on their belief in the importance of giving to their four daughters, who established the Victor Smorgon Foundation in support of youth issues and medical research.

Loti, along with Victor, were ground-breaking cultural philanthropists, who paved the way for many of Australia’s philanthropists. They were an inspiration to all.

Aug. 29, 2013

 Tags: what's new, stories, news, large donations, general, arts

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