Detroit Institute of Arts receives $1.71 million gift from former museum shop volunteer and local DPS teacher Elizabeth Verdow

Gift to fund contemporary art acquisitions and operating endowment

Issued by the DIA on Tuesday, January 12, 2016
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has received a generous bequest from former museum shop volunteer and Detroit Public Schools art teacher Elizabeth Verdow. Verdow stipulated that $1.26 million of the $1.71 million gift be used for contemporary art acquisitions of painting and sculpture and $450,000 go towards the museum’s operating endowment.

“We are humbled by Elizabeth’s longtime dedication to and support of the DIA,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA director. “She enriched the lives of countless visitors during her 19 years of volunteer service, and her gift will help enhance our contemporary art collection, greatly benefiting our community. We are so inspired by her philanthropy and civic commitment. She has set a very high example for all, and her legacy will live on for years to come. We are deeply grateful and moved.”

Verdow passed away in June 2014 at the age of 86. She received a B.A. from Albion College and taught art in the Detroit Public Schools system her entire career. She lived in Farmington Hills for more than 20 years and volunteered at the DIA from 1990 to 2009. She was known for her dedication to her volunteer work at the museum, her love of the arts and her fondness of travel.

The DIA will honor Verdow’s legacy by including her name on the Robert S. Tannahill Society donor wall at the museum and by naming the fund into which her gift will be placed the “Elizabeth Verdow Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund.” Works of art purchased with this fund will be identified with gallery labels bearing her name. In this way her legacy of service and her love of contemporary art will be shared with museum visitors.

For information on how to make a planned gift to the DIA, please contact Deborah Odette at

About the DIA
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera’s world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

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