WATERVILLE — A longtime Colby College supporter is donating $2 million for a contemporary art gallery in a downtown arts center being planned by Colby and Waterville Creates! at 93 Main St., Colby officials announced.

The donor is Colby Trustee Emeritus Paul J. Schupf, who received an honorary degree from the college in 2006. Schupf has given several significant contributions to Colby in the past, making possible the Paul J. Schupf Wing for the Works of Alex Katz and the Paul J. Schupf Sculpture Court at the Colby College Museum of Art; the Paul J. Schupf Scientific Computing Center; the Anthony-Mitchell-Schupf residence hall; and the Colby College-Memorial Sloan Kettering Summer Internship.

A collector, Schupf has also donated numerous works of art, including pieces by Alex Katz and a gift of more than 150 works on paper by Richard Serra.

Colby and Waterville Creates! are working to raise $18 million to $20 million to transform The Center at 93 Main St. into a thriving art and film center, including the contemporary art gallery on the first floor and a relocated Railroad Square Cinema with new equipment and seating on the second.

The gallery, to be named after Schupf, allows the Colby College Museum of Art to expand into downtown Waterville, offering the community and visitors a chance to engage with spectacular works in a vibrant setting, Colby officials said in a news release.

As part of the downtown arts complex, the Schupf gallery will feature a rotating program of contemporary art exhibitions. Regularly scheduled gallery events will be held in the space.

“The Schupf gallery will be a vital part of the new center for contemporary art and film, which has been conceived to create a hub of activity on Main Street and cement Waterville’s place as a destination for the arts,” Colby President David A. Greene said in the release. “Once again, Paul Schupf has given so generously to help make art accessible to the Waterville community and visitors from Maine and beyond. We are so fortunate to have his friendship and to benefit from his vision for institutions that serve the public good.”

Schupf is an emeritus member of the Colby College Museum of Art’s Board of Governors and served as a college trustee for many years.

“Starting in 1985 with President Bill Cotter and museum director Hugh J. Gourley III, I became entranced by the wonderful, adventurous Colby College Museum of Art,” Schupf said in the release. “When David Greene discussed with me the possibility of creating a gallery in Waterville, I jumped onboard immediately. The donation of the Paul J. Schupf gallery for contemporary art in downtown Waterville is just another manifestation of my admiration for the College and its museum.”

Sharon Corwin, the Carolyn Muzzy Director and Chief Curator of the museum, said Schupf has been a great friend to the Colby Museum, and college officials “are humbled by, and grateful for, his remarkable generosity.”

“We see this gallery as a front door to the Colby Museum and an opportunity to integrate more deeply into our community, and Paul’s support makes that possible.”

On March 5 Colby and Waterville Creates! announced plans to transform the downtown building to help make Waterville a singular destination for the arts in Maine. The project will feature new and renovated space to support leading programs in visual arts, theater, film and arts education.

The larger complex will include the Waterville Opera House, Common Street Arts, the Maine Film Center and the cinema. It is expected to attract even more visitors to Main Street, anchored by a hotel Colby plans to build a block from Castonguay Square and Colby’s Bill and Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, which is expected to house 200 Colby students, faculty, and staff at 150 Main St.

Colby also bought and renovated 173 Main St. across the street from the Commons. The former Waterville Savings Bank building houses software consultant CGI Group, Colby employees, and a student business incubator.

The Colby College Museum of Art was founded in 1959 and comprises five wings, more than 9,000 works of art, and more than 38,000 square feet of exhibition space. The museum also maintains a significant collection of contemporary American art, including more than 900 works by Alex Katz, as well as works by Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt, Maya Lin, Kara Walker, Elizabeth Murray, Martin Puryear, Terry Winters and Julie Mehretu. The museum is free and open to the public.

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