Toronto entrepreneur and philanthropist Dan Mishra says a $5 million donation to the Royal Ontario Museum to expand its South Asian section is a "big thank you" to his adopted homeland.
Mishra, the chair & CEO of software company CSDC Systems Inc., came to Canada from India as a student in 1969.
"We all came here for a better life. I've lived in this country now for 48 years and every moment, every day, I'm so proud of Canada," said Mishra during a news conference to announce the donation Thursday at the museum.
"I travel a lot internationally; six months of the year I'm away. And when I come back it's so wonderful to be home. Here it's so peaceful, no turbulence at all, which I encounter in every country I visit. So this is my home. So thank you Canada for giving me a home."
The gift is not only the largest ever made to the museum's South Asian section, it's also timely, said Josh Basseches, the ROM's director and CEO.
"Dan is so committed to launching this new initiative right away that he's chosen to give the ROM the full $5-million this year, which is also remarkable," Basseches said.
The endowment will establish the Dan Mishra South Asian Initiative and will immediately enhance the museum's commitment to South Asian art and culture.
Deepali Dewan, an art historian and professor at University of Toronto who serves as the ROM's senior curator for its Department of World Cultures, will serve as the initiative's first curator.
With 10,000 objects that span more than 5,000 years of history, the ROM's South Asian collection is already one of the foremost in the Western world. The new curatorship and funding will allow the museum to expand its current presentation of South Asian artifacts.
"I look forward to conceptualizing and building an innovative and enhanced level of activities and advocating for South Asian art and culture," Dewan said.
Mishra said South Asian art and culture has had an important influence on the modern world and he hopes the exhibitions, public programs and learning activities for school-aged audiences will bring an understanding and appreciation of South Asian culture,
"I want to bring that story to the world," said Mishra.
"This is not a one-time thing; this is a journey I've embarked on and I'll become part of the ROM family and continue to assist.