McDermotts’ Final Legacy Enhances the Breadth and Quality
of Museum’s Leading Impressionist and Modern Collections
Dallas, TX – June 18, 2018 – The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) presents an exhibition dedicated to the single largest benefactors in the Museum’s history, the late Margaret and Eugene McDermott, visionary patrons of the arts, education, and healthcare in Dallas. An Enduring Legacy: The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Collection of Impressionist and Modern Art displays their magnificent final bequest of 32 nineteenth- and early twentieth-century artworks, including masterworks by Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Henry Moore, amongst many others. These significant gifts to benefit the DMA dramatically strengthen the international caliber of the Museum’s leading Impressionist and Modern Art collections, and join the already-staggering 3,100-plus works of art from around the world donated to the Museum by the McDermotts over six decades. They were bequeathed upon Mrs. McDermott’s death, which occurred on May 3 at the age of 106, and it was her wish that they be exhibited quickly for the public.
“Margaret and Eugene McDermott’s commitment to our institution was unwavering and their generosity unparalleled,” said Agustín Arteaga, the Eugene McDermott Director of the DMA. “Though the enormity of their contributions and impact cannot possibly be encapsulated in a single exhibition, An Enduring Legacy is a testament to their abiding devotion to the DMA and their passion for the arts and connoisseurship that has been key to shaping the Museum’s collections for over half a century. They are a shining example of the impact that dedicated philanthropists can make on an institution and on the social and cultural fabric of an entire city. This fantastic gift has made our Museum an extraordinary destination for impressionist and modern art.”
An Enduring Legacy represents the culminating gesture of a lifetime of generosity, and the immense impact of the McDermotts on developing the DMA into a leading arts institution of international stature. In addition to their development of the DMA’s collection, the McDermotts endowed numerous positions, including the Museum directorship, provided major capital support, funded educational programs such as a paid internship program for young museum professionals, and championed institutional change. Their creation of the Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund furthered their support of the Museum’s active and ongoing program of acquisitions.
Since 1960 when they donated their first work to the Museum, the McDermotts’ passion for art and connoisseurship enabled them to establish a world-renowned personal collection, with 32 of these masterworks bequeathed to the McDermott Art Fund to benefit the DMA, where they joined three works previously gifted. An Enduring Legacy will feature these exemplary works by chief Impressionist and Modern artists, including:
- Claude Monet’s The Water Lily Pond (Clouds), 1903, oil on canvas
- Edvard Munch’s Thuringian Forest, 1904, oil on canvas
- Paul Signac’s Mont Saint-Michel, Setting Sun, 1897, oil on canvas
- Georges Braque’s Still Life with Guitar, 1936-1957, oil and sand on canvas
- Edgar Degas’ Dancer with a Fan, c. 1879, pastel on paper
In addition to this staggering final gift to benefit the Museum, the McDermotts’ legacy of support for the development of the Museum’s collection continues with the Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, which the couple established in 1960. For sixty years, its resources have enabled the curators of the Dallas Museum of Art to build the Museum’s collections with objects of the highest quality and significance. Through the generosity of the McDermott Art Fund, the Museum acquired its first oil paintings by such important and impactful 19th- and 20th-century European masters as Henri Matisse, Yves Tanguy, Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Caillebotte, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Paul Signac. These acquisitions transformed the Museum’s European collection, allowing it to explore the trajectory from Impressionism to early Modernism more fully in the galleries through truly spectacular examples of painting.
On view through February 10, 2019, An Enduring Legacy: The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Collection of Impressionist and Modern Art is curated by Nicole R. Myers, The Lillian and James H. Clark Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the DMA and included in free general admission. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication titled Reflections, Margaret McDermott’s personal recollections and reflections about the art she and her husband collected and which are now bequeathed to the McDermott Art Fund to benefit the Museum.
Furthermore, over 400 works of art that entered the DMA collection through the generosity of the McDermotts will be on view on all four levels of the Museum. With the opening of the exhibition, each of these objects will be highlighted in the permanent collection galleries with a specially designed label.
About Eugene and Margaret McDermott
Eugene McDermott was a co-founder of Texas Instruments, a strong philanthropist of the arts and education, and a former Board member of the Museum, who passed away in 1973. Margaret McDermott was a trustee of the Museum for 57 years and passed away in May 2018. They were married for 19 years. The couple’s daughter, Mary McDermott Cook, serves on the DMA’s Board of Trustees and is President of the Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund.
The visionary couple’s support of the DMA encompassed major capital and endowment gifts, including the endowment of the directorship and eight named curatorial and staff positions, funding for educational programs, and support for Museum operations and exhibition development. In addition, the McDermotts regularly made leadership gifts to the Museum’s capital campaigns, including the Campaign for a New Century, launched in conjunction with the DMA’s centennial in 2003–04; new curatorial and educational programs; and capital improvements. They also generously supported the Museum’s internship program, helping college and graduate students foster new careers in the arts.
Mrs. McDermott’s formal association with the Museum began in 1949, when she joined the public relations staff at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (DMFA), which, later, under her leadership as a trustee, would become the Dallas Museum of Art. As president of the DMFA during the 1960s, Mrs. McDermott championed the idea for and contributed support to the presentation of the ambitious and nationally acclaimed 1962 exhibition The Arts of Man. This expansive overview of 877 works from around the world laid the foundation for the institution’s cross-cultural presentations and programming. The following year, she led the Museum in the merger of the DMFA with the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, marking the beginning of the Museum’s serious development of a contemporary art collection.
The McDermotts worked with the DMA leadership to grow, shape, and deepen the Museum’s collection—in particular its holdings of non-Western art, European painting and sculpture, and decorative arts. Their gifts were often made quietly and without fanfare, designed to address specific needs in the Museum’s collection.
The first work they donated to the Museum was Flora, a sculpture by Aristide Maillol in 1960. The following year, they gave Vincent van Gogh’s River Bank in Springtime (1887). Additional highlights of the many significant works of art that they donated to or acquired for the benefit of the DMA include two important works of African art from the Asante peoples of Ghana dating from the first part of the 20th century; two masterworks of Asian sculpture, Shiva Nataraja from 11th-century India and a pair of Chinese ceramic lokapalas (c. early 8th century); Juan Gris’s Guitar and Pipe (1913); Piet Mondrian’s Windmill (c. 1917); John Singleton Copley’s pair of pendant portraits of Woodbury Langdon and his wife, Sarah (1767); David Smith’s Cubi XVII (1963); a Peruvian Paracas mantle (c. 300–100 BC); and a Mexican mask of jadeite from the Gulf Coast Olmec culture (c. 900–500 BC).
The McDermotts’ constant presence, dedication, and leadership at the DMA also inspired countless others to support the Museum through collection gifts and financial support. Notable among these were the gifts in the 1970s of the Wise Collection of Ancient American Art, the Schindler Collection of African Sculpture, and the Stillman Collection of Congo Sculpture—three collections that gave the Museum added significance and stature among scholars and patrons, and that set the stage for the DMA’s move to the then nascent Arts District.
The McDermotts’ dedication to the city of Dallas extended to countless other cultural institutions and organizations, as well as to education, medical research, and community affairs. Among their most visible contributions was a lead gift for the creation of Dallas’s Trinity River bridges, designed by Santiago Calatrava. The McDermotts were also the first major donors to the AT&T Performing Arts Center, served as the founding benefactors of the Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture, and donated funds for the Eugene McDermott Concert Hall, the principal performance space of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. The McDermott family has also been tremendous supporters of the University of Texas at Dallas since its inception, with Eugene McDermott serving as a founder of the research center that would later become UT Dallas.
About the Dallas Museum of Art
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is among the 10 largest art museums in the country and is distinguished by its commitment to research, innovation, and public engagement. At the
heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 24,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the nation’s largest arts district, the Museum acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events, and dramatic and dance presentations. Since the Museum’s return to free general admission in 2013, the DMA has welcomed more than 3.2 million visitors. For more information, visit DMA.org.
The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Members and donors, the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.
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