Robert L. McNeil, Jr. and Nancy M. McNeil’s passion as collectors was matched by their generosity as patrons. Much of their collection of American decorative arts, paintings, prints, and drawings now enhances the museum’s holdings. A longtime Trustee, Mr. McNeil was keenly aware of the importance of providing intellectual scrutiny and cultural context for the collection. As such, he underwrote catalogues about American silver, presidential china, and the art of the Peale family. His endowment of five curatorial positions and his match of a Lenfest Challenge for a sixth secured the professional expertise of the Department of American Art. The position of Associate Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts honors his wife, Nancy M. McNeil, a collector of American craft, the cofounder of the museum’s annual Craft Show, and a longtime member of The Women’s Committee.
The McNeils’ endowment of the Center for American Art supports outreach and collaboration with arts and cultural communities. The Barra Foundation Fellowship, created in Mr. McNeil’s honor by the trustees of the Barra Foundation, provides graduate students with development opportunities.
Their generosity in support of the museum, and American art in particular, were recognized with the naming of the museum’s galleries of early American art as the Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Galleries.