Bruce M. Newman, Trustee Emeritus and alumnus of Pratt Institute, and a devoted longtime supporter of the school, has passed away. Newman’s considerable contributions to the Institute over more than 40 years, as a board member (1983–1996), transformational donor, and champion of students, have made a lasting impact on the Pratt community.

Newman’s long-standing support of Pratt has included beautification projects that have helped create a distinguished campus celebrated for its inspired landscape and unifying features, from the South Hall amphitheater and the sculptural red clock—which Newman designed—that arcs toward the sky on Newman Mall, to the award-winning and much-lauded redesign of the Engineering Quadrangle. Most recently, a significant gift from Newman made possible the establishment, in 2022, of Schutte Plaza, a 15,000 square foot swath of greenspace that welcomes Pratt community members to study, create, and commune among the surrounding trees and sculptures. All of these environmental elements have contributed, as he said at the time of Schutte Plaza’s naming, to the energy of Pratt’s Brooklyn campus and “a spirit of inspiration.” 

Even as learning took place away from campus, during the pandemic, Newman’s advocacy for the student experience touched their lives and work. In 2020, he helped fund supply kits for all Foundation students that provided essential tools and materials they would need in their first-year classes. It wasn’t the first time Newman had stepped in to support students during a challenging period of time. In 2013, Newman worked with art dealer Larry Gagosian to arrange a special exhibition of thesis work by fine arts students affected by a fire that winter in Pratt’s Main Building. The show of 44 graduating seniors’ work, with pieces selected by Brooklyn Museum curator Eugenie Tsai, was held that May in a space provided by collector and developer Aby Rosen in the Seagram Building on Park Avenue.

In 1993, Newman was named “Man of the Year” at Pratt, and he received an honorary degree in 1997. In 2014, he received the Alumni Achievement Award for Distinguished Service. 

“Bruce once said, ‘When you landscape, the buildings surrounding it come to life.’ Indeed, Bruce’s enduring commitment to the life of our community, experienced every day by our students and all who pass through our beautiful campus, will resonate for generations,” said Pratt President Frances Bronet. “His abundant care and dedication live on in the countless designers, artists, and creative minds who have found Pratt a space of reflection, connection, and innovation. He will be deeply missed.”

Bruce Murray Newman grew up in Brooklyn just steps from the Institute, on Grand Army Plaza across from the Brooklyn Museum. He studied interior design at Pratt, and while he was a student, played guard for the men’s basketball team. He graduated with a BFA in Interior Design in 1953.

From 1975 to 2001, Newman served as president of Newel Art Galleries Inc., a decorative arts and antiques company with roots in Broadway and an extensive roster of prominent clients, founded by Newman’s father in 1939. Newman developed a leasing business renting the gallery’s inventory for film, television, theater, and other features and displays, before selling the company to his nephew, Lewis J. Baer. 

With his expertise in decorative arts and antiques, Newman authored two books, including Fantasy Furniture (Rizzoli, 1989), which highlighted uniquely crafted furniture pieces of the 19th and 20th centuries (a long-term installation titled Fantasy Furniture: A Gift Collection of Judith & Bruce Newman, was on view at the Brooklyn Museum from 1992 to 1998). In his second book, Don’t Come Back Until You Find It: Tales from an Antiques Dealer (Beaufort, 2006), Newman wrote about his 50-year career and the origins of his family’s business. His depth of knowledge and experience saw him featured on television programs such as CBS’s Morning Show, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, and he lectured at museums and colleges across the country. Newman also served on the board of the Victorian Society of America and American Society of Interior Designers as well as on the regional advisory board for JP Morgan Chase Bank.

Read the New York Times obituary.