A new home for the Calder mobile

As you pass through the Duke Medicine Pavilion concourse, you may have noticed the colorful mobile hanging overhead.  The delicate, red, leaf-like shapes dangling above immediately catch your eye.  This beautiful sculpture has been a wonderful addition to Duke, and provides a source of enjoyment and comfort for patients and visitors alike.

It may surprise you to know this mobile was actually donated (known as a “gift-in-kind”) by a foundation with family ties to Duke after a nearly eight-year search to find the perfect place for it.  The mobile is temporarily displayed at the Duke Medicine Pavilion, and its permanent home will be in Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center.

The Robert and Nettie Benenson Foundation donated the art to Duke University in 2013.  The mobile was one of many art works owned by Edward Benenson ’34 and was given to the foundation upon his death in 2005. Benenson’s daughter, Lisa Benenson Quattrocchi P’13, vice president of the foundation, made the decision to donate it to Duke Children’s.  Quattrocchi also serves on Duke Children’s National Board of Advisors.  The Benenson Foundation was created by her grandparents and her father governed the foundation for many years. For Quattrocchi, it was an obvious place for the mobile.

“It’s a colorful, happy, joyful piece, and I like to think that seeing it will brighten the day for a lot of children and families,” she notes.  The mobile once hung from the ceiling of the family’s beach house.  Quattrocchi remembers as a little girl she used to jump to see how close she could come to touching the red panels.

You can read more about the donation of the mobile to Duke Medicine by visiting their website

Originally created in 1968 by Alexander Calder, the mobile, now called “Red Sumac” due to its resemblance to the flowering plant, is made of painted sheet metal and wire, and measures 31 by 85 by 50 inches.  Calder was among the most celebrated American artists of the 20th century.  He is best known as the inventor and master of the mobile.

Gifts may come in any shape and size. Our Office of Gift Planning is happy to work with you on a creative gift plan that meets your personal and charitable goals.  It’s important to keep in mind that gifts-in-kind require appraisal or advance approval in order to be accepted.  Examples of these gifts may include rare books, art, computers, and laboratory equipment. If property has been held for more than a year and can be put to a use related to the “charitable purpose” of the university, you may be eligible for a deduction based on the asset’s full fair market value.

Please visit our website or contact our team if you would like to learn more about supporting Duke in this way.

TAGS: legacy calder gift-in-kind tangible property

About the author

Gift Planning


Duke University’s Office of Gift Planning specializes in charitable gift planning for estates, charitable trusts and annuities, and other complex current and future gift plans.

For more information, please contact the Duke University Office of Gift Planning at 919-681-0464 or giftplanning@duke.edu.