Theater, music, film, poetry, and the visual arts were essential parts of life for Daniel W. Dietrich II. With his customarily elegance and discretion, he was a dedicated and longtime supporter of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, taking a particular interest in our collections of American and contemporary art. Upon his passing in 2016, the museum received an extraordinary bequest of fifty works of art from his exquisite and idiosyncratic collection, which celebrated the pioneering spirit, attuned sensibility and innovative impulse of a group of American artists across styles and generations. This gift includes works by contemporary artists such as Eva Hesse, Paul Thek, and Cy Twombly, early twentieth-century paintings by Charles Demuth, Edwin Dickinson, Marsden Hartley, and Edward Hopper, as well as an important collection of paintings and photographs by the nineteenth-century master, Thomas Eakins, and his circle. An early supporter and personal friend of Agnes Martin, Mr. Dietrich giftedthe museum four of her paintings which later became centerpieces of the exhibition Agnes Martin: The Untroubled Mind in 2018. The gift also brought two monumental paintings by Philip Guston—The Night (1977) and Kettle (1978)—and three important works by Horace Pippin—The Getaway (1939), Study for “Barracks” (1945), and The Park Bench (1946)—which further enriched the museum’s holdings of both artists’ work.
Along with the gift of this unique group of works, Mr. Dietrich endowed The Daniel W. Dietrich II Fund for Excellence in Contemporary Art, which builds capacity and supports innovation and experimentation in curatorial practice and programming in the field of contemporary art. In recognition of a further substantial capital gift to the museum’s Core Project renovations, a new suite of galleries dedicated to installations of modern and contemporary art and works on paper from the museum’s collection was named the Daniel W. Dietrich II Galleries in 2021.