Seattle University receives works worth $300 million

Seattle University announced on Wednesday March 13 its plan to build an art museum on its campus to house the works of real estate developer and hotelier Richard Hedreen. The latter has just donated his entire art collection, which includes more than 200 works with a total value of around $300 million (274 million euros), as well as $25 million (22.8 million euros) to finance the start-up of the museum. This is one of the largest donations of works ever made to a university.

Richard Hedreen (88) made the donation in honor of his late wife, Betty, who was an alumna of Seattle University. Passionate about art, she served on the board of directors of the Seattle Art Museum, to which the couple also donated works from their collection. Richard Hedreen also chose to turn to university so that “the works in the collection can stay together” and that they “not be stored”. “I am convinced that the university, which focuses on teaching and visual arts, poetry, literature, history, education, is the right place to have a museum that can teach the history of art “ he declared to New York Times.

The couple began collecting a few years after Richard Hedreen founded his real estate development company RC Hedreen Co. in 1963, which included building major hotels like the Seattle Hilton Hotel. Their collection now includes more than 200 works of art dating from the 15th century to the present day. It includes numerous paintings by artists such as Titian, Thomas Gainsborough and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as sculptures, engravings, photographs from the 20th century and works by contemporary artists such as Cecily Brown (born in 1969) or Rashid Johnson (born in 1977).

Seattle University plans to house the entire collection in a museum to be built on its Capitol Hill campus, likely on land near the Lee Center for the Arts. The museum – currently named the Seattle University Museum of Art – will display much of the Hedreen collection in a permanent exhibition hall. It will also house works of modern and contemporary art recently bequeathed to the university by Seattle artists: Dennis Evans (born in 1946) and Nancy Mee (born in 1951). The museum will be open to professors and students of the university but also to the public.

Although no timetable has been communicated yet, the project is expected to take approximately three to five years to complete. Richard Hedreen announced that the museum building could be designed by architect Tom Kundig (b. 1954). The Hedreen collection will be transferred to the university once the museum is built.

Founded in 1891, Seattle University is a Jesuit school divided into eight colleges (psychology, economics and commerce, education, etc.). Its campus, located on First Hill, brings together several buildings including the chapel of Saint-Ignace, designed by the American architect Steven Holl (born in 1947).

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