Sam and Ayala Zacks History
Sam and Ayala Zacks were prominent Canadian art collectors of international repute active in the mid-20th century, whose gifts form the basis of the modern European art collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Ayala Ben Tovim Fleg Zacks Abramov (1912-2011) was born in Jerusalem and educated in Israel, Paris and London. In 1938 she married Maurice Fleg in Paris, and joined the French Resistance after her husband died in action in 1940. Active in Zionist circles after the war, she met Sam Zacks in Switzerland. Samuel J. Zacks (1904-1970) was a financier, Zionist and art collector, born in Kingston, Ontario and educated at Queen’s University and Harvard. Following their marriage in 1947, they immediately began to collect art of the School of Paris as well as Canadian and Israeli art and antiquities, amassing an extensive collection by the late 1950’s that was in continual demand by museums around the world. In 1956, a collection of Canadian art was donated to Queen’s University, the first of many significant gifts to institutions in Israel and Canada including the Hazor Archaeological Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Israel Museum, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Mr. and Mrs. Zacks were both involved in international art circles, sitting on the Boards of the International Committee of Museums (ICOM), a branch of UNESCO, the International Committee of the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario and others. In 1969 Mr. Zacks received an Honourary Fellowship from St. Peter’s College, Oxford. He died in 1970 in Toronto. In 1971, Ayala was awarded the Order of Canada and an honourary degree from the University of Toronto and in 1972, she established the Samuel J. Zacks Gallery at York University in memory of her late husband and his good work. She married Zalman Abramov, an Israeli lawyer and politician, in 1976 and moved permanently to Israel in 1982. She died in Jerusalem in 2011.
-From the AGO's Sam and Ayala Zacks Fonds, prepared by Sylvia Lassam (2003)
1904 - Samuel Jacob Zacks is born in Kingston, Ontario
1912 - Ayala Ben-Tovim is born in Jerusalem, Israel
1924 - Sam receives his B.A. from Queen's University
1925 - Studies Political Economy at Harvard; moves to Toronto
1925-27 - Writes foreign exchange column for the Financial Post
1938 - Sam helps found the United Jewish Welfare Fund of Toronto; plays an active role on the executive board of the Canadian National Committee on Refugees, which helped reestablish 3,000 German-Jewish refugees before and during World War II
1938 - Ayala marries her first husband, Maurice Fleg, whom she met while studying in Paris
1940 - Fleg is killed during military action; Ayala joins the French Resistance
1945 - WWII ends, Sam and Ayala meet in Switzerland
1947 - Sam and Ayala marry
1943-1949 - Sam served two terms as National President of the Zionist Organization of Canada
1955 - First major exhibitions of the Zacks collection at four locations in Israel (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ein Harod and Haifa)
1961-1979 - Sam is board member of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art, New York
1963 - Sam donates to Queen's University a large collection of Canadian paintings, sculpture and Eskimo Art which formed the basis of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre
1964 - Sam and Ayala establish the Hazor Archaeological Museum at Kibbutz Ayelet Hashahar, which displays artifacts from King Solomon's summer palace.
1966 - Sam is elected president and Chairman of the AGO's Exhibition Committee and Board
1968-1970 - Sam is Honourary Vice-President of the Board of Trustees at AGO
1969 - Sam received an Honourary Fellowship from St. Peter's College, Oxford, England; Sam is chairman of the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre Committee at AGO
1970 - Sam dies in Toronto
1971 – Ayala awarded the Order of Canada and an honourary degree from the University of Toronto; The Ayala and Sam Zacks Pavilion at the Tel Aviv Museum is built; Ayala donates over 300 works of European and Canadian modern art to the AGO, including paintings by Picasso, Modigliani, de Chirico and Chagall, and sculpture by Moore, Hepworth, Chadwick, Matisse and Degas
1972 – Ayala established a Trust Fund at Toronto's York University in the name of her late husband
1976 - married Zalman Abramov,an Israeli lawyer and politician; The Israel Museum and The Tel Aviv Museum exhibit "A Tribute to Sam Zacks: Selected Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures from the Sam and Ayala Zacks Collection"
1982 - moved permanently to Israel; The Israel Museum exhibit a special exhibit from her collection in celebration of her 80th birthday
2011 – Ayala dies in Jerusalem
2012-2014 - AGO exhibit "Ayala Zacks 1912–2011: A Tribute"