Texas Art Museums Showered with Gifts of Cash and Art

Just as news of a bequest of $450 million to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston was hitting the wires, the Dallas Museum of Art announced a windfall of its own — cash gifts and art bequests that will add more than eight hundred modern and contemporary works to its holdings, the New York Times reports.

The bequest to Houston's MFA from the estate of Caroline Wiess Law, daughter of a founder of the Humble Oil Co., included her collection of contemporary art, which is valued at between $60 million and $85 million. The Dallas museum's donors are Margaret McDermott, 93, who gave the museum a 1903 Monet that museum officials call "the most important Impressionist painting in private hands in Texas"; Robert Hoffman, a Dallas art patron, civic leader, and Coca-Cola bottler who organized the group bequests, and his wife, Marguerite; Cindy and Howard Rachofsky; and Rusty Rose, a former owner of the Texas Rangers, and his wife, Deedie. The Hoffmans' gift of three hundred and fifty pieces includes works by Joseph Beuys, Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp, Lucien Freud, Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, Franz Kline, Ellsworth Kelly, and Louise Bourgeois. The Rachofsky pledge includes about four hundred works by Richter, Donald Judd, Bruce Nauman, Sigmar Polke, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Tom Friedman, Kiki Smith, Robert Gober, Mona Hatoum, Jim Hodges, and Robert Irwin. The collection donated by the Roses is strong in sculpture, modern furniture, and handmade objects, and includes works by Robert Ryman, Franz West, Ana Mendieta, and Richard Tuttle.

The donors said the art would be deeded to the museum upon their deaths but would continue to be available for lending. Hoffman also said that each couple made a seven-figure commitment toward a $135 endowment drive that the museum is already halfway to completing. In addition, another benefactor has pledged $32 million for a separate acquisitions fund. Coming less than two years after the opening of the museum's $70 million Nasher Sculpture Center, the gifts represent a financial commitment of the better part of $1 billion. "We collected collegially," Hoffman said of the three couples involved in the gift. "We have a good idea what others are doing, and we tried not to duplicate each other." Plus, he added, "we want the cultural resources to stay here."

Ralph Blumenthal. "Major Gifts of Cash and Art for Texas Museums." New York Times 02/16/2005.