Contribution Launches Edith O'Donnell Institute of Art History

Contribution Launches Edith O'Donnell Institute of Art History

RICHARDSON, Texas, July 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ Edith O'Donnell, longtime visionary and patroness of the arts and education, has made a contribution of $17 million to create the Edith O'Donnell Institute of Art History. The purpose of the investment is to elevate art history at UT Dallas to a nationally preeminent stature.

"UT Dallas excels in science and engineering. The moment is right to build a program of the same quality and rigor in art history," said Mrs. O'Donnell. "There is a natural affinity between science and the arts. UT Dallas founders Erik Jonsson, Eugene McDermott and Cecil Green actively supported the arts. Now, I look forward to seeing what the future holds for art history, UTD-style."

Dr. David E. Daniel, president of UT Dallas, said, "The University extends its sincerest thanks and grateful appreciation to Edith O'Donnell. Her dedication to preserving and expanding the knowledge of art throughout the world inspires the creation of this Institute."

Dr. Richard R. Brettell will lead the stand-alone Institute as the first Director and Edith O'Donnell Distinguished Chair. He will also serve as a vice provost, reporting to Executive Vice President and Provost Hobson Wildenthal.

Brettell, a professor of art and aesthetic studies who also holds the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies in the School of Arts and Humanities said, "Mrs. O'Donnell has made it clear that what interested her about funding art history at UT Dallas was our strength in the sciences, technology, and management, thus creating the conditions that could foster a wholly new kind of art history.

"With art historians on campus who study the intersections between art and cartography, art and biology, and art history in the context of big data, UT Dallas has demonstrated a willingness to think about art and about history in new ways," Brettell added.

Mrs. O'Donnell said she recognizes that outstanding faculty and students are critical to the Institute's success. Her $17 million lead gift will endow Dr. Brettell's position as the Institute's Director and O'Donnell Distinguished Chair; four O'Donnell Distinguished Chairs; ten O'Donnell Graduate Research Fellowships, and a research and program fund. The Institute will provide support for conferences, research travel, and visiting faculty and lecturers.

The Institute's campus offices will be housed in the new Edith O'Donnell Arts and Technology Building, a 155,000-square-foot facility that houses programs in arts and technology, visual arts, emerging media and communications, as well as a 1,200-seat lecture hall.

"The Edith O'Donnell Institute of Art History will be the first such institute formed in the digital age," Brettell said. "It will work with the distinguished older institutes" in New York (The Institute of Fine Arts), London (The Courtauld Institute of Art History); and Munich (The Zentralinstitut fur Kunstgeschichte) as well as the research institutes at the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Clark Art Institute, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) and "will add a truly 21 st century dimension to the study of art history."