Press Release

Rothko Chapel’s Opening Spaces Campaign Receives $3M Gift From Co-Founder Of WordPress

August 16, 2021

Matt Mullenweg to fund three areas of the Chapel’s expansion in honor of his family

Houston, TX – The Rothko Chapel today announced a $3-million gift from Matt Mullenweg to its Opening Spaces capital campaign. The $32-million campaign is funding a comprehensive restoration of the Chapel – the first in a generation – as well as the expansion of the Chapel’s campus to provide additional space for programming, visitor welcome and engagement, and meditation and respite throughout the campus. Phase one, which was completed in 2020, centered on the restoration of the Chapel sanctuary and realizing Mark Rothko’s original vision, strengthening the visitor experience, and improving its functionality. Phase two, with construction scheduled to begin in 2022, directly expands the Rothko Chapel’s outward mission with the addition of a new program center and administration-archives building that embodies the Chapel’s programming and community engagement goals. The purpose of the Opening Spaces master plan is to create new facilities and enhanced grounds that reflect the Chapel’s role as a premier cultural and human rights institution, while at the same time facilitating the responsible stewardship of the extraordinary art and historic architecture in its care.

Mullenweg is an American entrepreneur and web developer, originally from Houston, who is known for founding WordPress, a free, open-source software used by more than 40% of the web. His gift to the Chapel will be used to fund the construction and development of three areas of the master plan: the Birch Grove, the Meditation Garden, and the Rothko Chapel Foyer. The Birch Grove is being named for Mullenweg’s sister, Charleen Mullenweg, and the Meditation Garden will be named in honor of his parents, Chuck and Kathleen Mullenweg.

The Opening Spaces campaign has, to date, raised more than $19 million with the help of private donors and foundations located throughout Texas and the country. The initial phase of Opening Spaces received major contributions from numerous foundations, including the Houston Endowment, The Brown Foundation, Inc., The Cullen Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation, as well as individuals such as Lynn Wyatt and Suzanne Deal Booth.

The spaces funded by Mullenweg’s contribution will allow the Rothko Chapel to better fulfill its mission to invite spiritual contemplation and engagement regardless of faith, spiritual or religious background. Since its founding, the Rothko Chapel has invited interfaith celebration and contemplation and is a space that welcomes and encourages the consideration of social issues.

Christopher Rothko, Chairman of Opening Spaces, says, “We are so grateful to Matt Mullenweg for this extraordinary gift. His generosity will help us expand the Rothko Chapel’s ability to provide respite and contemplation, while continuing our mission of promoting social justice and human rights.”

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