When you talk to Bob Rauber about art, he’ll tell you he likes paintings of nature. He has spent 33 years studying atmospheric sciences at Illinois, which means sometimes he flies through major storms with an airplane full of instrumentation.
“There are nice views from up there, but it can be a little bumpy,” he says.
His wife Ruta covers her eyes but smiles when he talks about it, “I tell him, just call me when you’re back on the ground!”
Not surprisingly, Bob pays attention to artists who paint great skies. But Ruta, an art maker at heart and longtime KAM docent, encourages him toward vibrant twentieth-century paintings like Gabriele Münter’s The Blue Gable.
Bob is clearly interested in her ideas, acknowledging Ruta’s knowledge on the subject. “She knows what she’s talking about,” he says.
Bob and Ruta have spent a long time supporting each other’s passions—his for the sciences, hers for the arts.
“We travel all over the world together,” Bob comments. “I always plan the nature I want to see on a trip. Ruta always chooses museums! So of course, we’ve visited museums all over the world.”
Ruta’s interest in art awakened when she started taking art classes after her children were off to college. “I found I’d developed this base of knowledge around making art already, just because I’d done it for years with my kids,” she said, admitting she was surprised at how natural making art seemed to her.
And the more she learned, the more fascinated with the world of art she became. “I wanted to know the backstory of what I was seeing, the history of it, and getting involved at the museum was a great way to do that.”
Ruta heard Krannert Art Museum had a volunteer docent program, so she decided to see what it was all about.
Every museum tour at KAM is free, and volunteer docents help make that possible, facilitating exploration throughout the museum. Ruta especially loves when kindergarten classes come through.
“I love to hear the ideas the kids come up with,” she says, “just when you think ‘I know everything there is to know about this work of art,’ a child will raise their hand and say something I’ve never even considered. I learn as much from them as they probably do from me.”
Not only do Bob and Ruta contribute to campus life with their teaching and volunteerism, they have been generous donors to the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Krannert Art Museum. The core principle of their approach is partnership.
When the couple began planning an estate gift, they each hoped to support what they hold dear. Bob has spent his career in Department of Atmospheric Sciences, so he wanted to direct a gift that would support work in that field. Ruta has a passion for art and education and her work with the museum, so she opted to match his gift with one directed to KAM.
Together, the Raubers have found a way to balance their distinct interests through their generous support of both the sciences and the arts at the University of Illinois.