DALLAS — Kelli and Allen Questrom have given $3 million to the Dallas Museum of Art to endow a new curatorial position for works on paper.
The Questroms have supported art museums in the various cities where they’ve been stationed over Allen’s long retail career, including chief executive officer roles at Rich’s, Bullock’s, Neiman Marcus Group, Federated Department Stores, Barneys New York and J.C. Penney, in that order.
He sits on the boards of At Home Group, the Robin Report and Boston University, his alma mater.
The couple has become increasingly involved with the DMA since Allen’s retirement in Dallas in 2004. They bestowed $2 million in 2006 to create an educational facility, and Kelli has served as a DMA trustee for 19 years.
“Allen and I have thought for many years that it was an obvious miss on the part of the museum to not have a curator for works on paper,” Kelli Questrom said.
“Most major museums do, and it’s because works on paper are the beginning for many collections, and many artists from Picasso to currently emerging artists began on paper,” she continued. “It’s affordable, and the first thing you learn on in materials if you go to art school.”
The gift was sparked by their friends, former DMA curator William B. Jordan and his husband Robert Dean Brownlee, who offered to donate 80 works if the museum secured additional funds to hire a seasoned curator for works on paper, she explained.
“Allen and I looked at each other and said, ‘This is made in heaven for us,’” she said.
Jordan and Brownlee’s gift includes 58 works on paper as well as antiquities, 20th-century furniture, 19th-century oil paintings, ceramics, sculpture and silver.
The Questroms began collecting art with works on paper and typically donated one or two to the local museum when they were moving from a city, she noted.
“The inspiration that we had in the management side of retailing from talking to young, creative, innovative and emerging artists as fashion designers very much impressed us and influenced how we set out to start a personal collection of art,” she said.
DMA director Agustín Arteaga has appointed European art assistant curator Julien Domercq to serve as interim curator for works on paper while it fills the new position.
The DMA has more than 5,600 works on paper, he noted.
“While these works have always been integral to enriching the study of art across the museum, they have yet to receive the benefit of ongoing, dedicated study or exhibition,” Arteaga said. “We are tremendously grateful to the William B. Jordan and Robert Dean Brownlee Estate and Allen and Kelli Questrom for their vision and generosity in enabling the DMA to expand our exhibitions, programming, and scholarship in works on paper, an aspect of the museum’s collection that is incredibly rich and wide-ranging.”