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Kentucky Folk Art Center receives nearly half a million dollar gift from the von Goeben estate

Hedda von Goeben Check PictureHedda von Goeben is a long-time supporter and donor of the Kentucky Folk Art Center (KFAC) and its mission to shine a spotlight on both the artists and culture of the Appalachian region.  

While von Goeben passed away on October 2021 at the age of 90, her support for KFAC will be felt long after her passing. The MSU Foundation has announced that von Goeben left an estate gift for nearly $470,000.   

"We are greatly appreciative of Ms. von Goeben's generous donation, which represents her passion and love for the arts," said Rick Hesterberg, vice president for University Advancement. "This endowment will go a long way to support the mission of the Kentucky Folk Art Center, a very cherished facility in our community that attracts people from across our region and state."   

The endowment will be used for programmatic enhancement opportunities outside of basic operational needs. Funding can support art acquisitions, outreach programs, sales and gift shop enhancements, student worker stipends and other salary needs.  

Dr. Julia Finch, art professor and interim director for KFAC, said von Goeben's gift reflects her love for the arts and is vital for KFAC moving forward.  

"This substantial gift comes to the Kentucky Folk Art Center at a crucial time, having survived state budget cuts to arts funding within the last five years as well as closure during the COVID-19 pandemic," Finch said. "We are thrilled to be able to continue to share our collection with the Morehead community, as well as our many out-of-state and international visitors through Ms. von Goeben's generosity and passion for the arts."  

Hedda von Goeben was born in Greenwich, Connecticut. She an enthusiastic equestrienne who bred, trained and judged horses starting in the early 1950s and managed the equestrian program at Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut, from 1958 to 1966. During that time, she also earned a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from the University of Hartford. Over four decades until 2004, von Goeben was secretary under five presidents of the Professional Horsemen's Association.  

After relocating from Connecticut to Granville, Ohio, she spent her remaining years as an artist working in various media. She took college art classes at nearby Denison University to improve her craft. In honor of von Goeben, Melissa Yungbluth, curator at KFAC and director of the Golding-Yang Art Gallery, is planning an equestrian-themed exhibition for 2023 and hopes to acquire some of her artwork as well.  

"When I heard the news, I felt excitement, surprise and relief all at the same time. This donation means that there is future investment in the Kentucky Folk Art Center, as well as being able to make acquisitions to the collection, hire help and do outreach. It's a big deal for us," Yungbluth said. "I'm very grateful and looking forward to using the donation to do something wonderful in her memory."  

In recognition of Hedda van Goeben's generosity, we invite others to pledge their own support to the KFAC. A member drive is being held between now and March 15, with a goal of 100 members. Become a member today by visiting

For more information on the Kentucky Folk Art Center, visit

Photo, top: The gallery at the Kentucky Folk Art Center in Morehead. 

Photo, right (left to right): Rick Hesterberg, vice president for University Advancement, and MSU President Dr. Jay Morgan recognized the estate gift of Hedda von Goeben at the MSU Eagle basketball games on Saturday, Feb. 12.