But not everyone is happy that the institution, now known as the Miami Art Museum, will be recast as the Jorge M. Pérez Art Museum of Miami-Dade County to recognize Mr. Pérez’s $35 million gift in cash and art.
Four board members have resigned in protest. Several are threatening to rescind their contributions. Protest e-mails to museum officials have complained that an institution being built on public land and largely financed by taxpayers should not be named for an individual, no matter how generous.
“Name a plaza or a wing or the building,” said Rubén A. Rodríguez, one of the trustees who resigned, “but not the institution.”
The naming and renaming of institutions, arenas, even bridges, after people, to raise money or recognize civic contributions, typically engender little fuss. (Think of the Guggenheim or the Getty, not the former Brendan Byrne Arena.) There was hardly a peep when the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center became the David H. Koch Theater in 2008, after Mr. Koch’s pledge of $100 million.
But in an era when the need for cultural largesse by the wealthy is only expanding, there has been an unusual level of opposition here to the idea of renaming a community resource after an individual patron of the arts.
Is it the timing? The size of the gift? Mr. Pérez’s career as a major developer here? Or perhaps jealousy on the part of others whose own major contributions to the arts have never secured such a high-profile designation?
Museum officials say they’ve been surprised by the community reaction to the name change, though they caution against exaggerating the response. The change, after all, they said, was approved last week by a vote of the museum board; of the 35 members present, only 4 voted against, with 1 abstention.
Thomas Collins, the museum’s director, said the institution was fortunate that Mr. Pérez, a trustee, stepped up to take a lead role in its $220 million capital campaign to bolster its endowment and construct the new building, to be completed in 2013. Mr. Pérez’s $35 million gift includes a pledge of $20 million, along with $15 million worth of Latin American art, which he collects avidly.
“He has been part of the governance and leadership of the institution,” Mr. Collins said. “He has made a major commitment of fine art to the museum. Institutions have been named for people who’ve done just one of those things.”
Many institutions have taken to naming just about anything — hallways, lobbies, staircases — to raise money. In Miami naming has become something of a rage. In 2008 the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts — named for the cruise line — was renamed for the businesswoman and philanthropist Adrienne Arsht after her $30 million gift. When the Miami Science Museum opens its new building in 2014, it will be renamed the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. There is also the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami and the Frost Museum of Art at Florida International University.
Naming is often a prickly issue for an institution, since it links it to a person in the public’s mind.
Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, said that institutions have to be careful about whom they agree to be associated with. “I’m not sure anyone would want to have the Bonnie and Clyde Opera Company,” he said.
Sometimes property has to be unnamed. The Vilar Grand Tier at the Metropolitan Opera House, for example, went back to being just the Grand Tier after its benefactor, Alberto W. Vilar, failed to come through on his financial commitments.