The art of giving: Seattle University receives $300 million art collection + $25 million for future museum

The donation pays tribute to Richard Hedreen’s late wife, Elizabeth “Betty” Ann Petri Hedreen, an alumna of Seattle University.

Seattle philanthropist Richard Hedreen sits next to a painting by Cecily Brown featuring a mix of colors and broad brush strokes.

Richard Hedreen sits next to “Bring Me the Sunset in a Teacup” by Cecily Brown.

Photo via Yoseh Kalinko + Seattle University

Let us paint you a picture: Seattle University recently received its most colorful donation in campus history — an art collection worth $300 million.

The donor? Seattle native, hotel developer, art collector, and philanthropist Richard “Dick” Hedreen. We’ve curated the top things you should know about this “unprecedented gift” of art.

An oil on canvas painting featuring a mix of colors including orange, gray, blue, and black, created by Cecily Brown.

One of the pieces in the art collection is oil on linen piece by Cecily Brown.

Courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery, New York + photo via Genevieve Hanson

The collection

According to Seattle University, the Hedreen Collection boasts 200+ paintings, sculptures, etchings, photographs, and other works spanning the 15th century to present day from artists including:

  • Italian Renaissance painter Titian
  • Dutch-American abstract artist Willem de Kooning
  • Italian painter Jacopo da Pontormo
  • French painter Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun
  • Photography icon Andy Warhol
  • Contemporary British painter Cecily Brown
  • Contemporary artist Rashid Johnson

In the art world, Dick Hedreen and his late wife, Elizabeth “Betty” Ann Petri Hedreen, have long been known for having one of the top private art collections in the US. This donation includes the Hedreens’ entire collection.

"Le Moulin," an oil and canvas piece by Gustav Courbet, depicts a small, brown cottage surrounded by vegetation.

“Le Moulin,” an oil and canvas piece by Gustav Courbet, is part of the collection.

Photo via Richard Hedreen

An extra gift

Along with the masterpieces, Dick Hedreen is donating $25 million in seed funding for the university to develop a museum to house the collection. It’s expected to be named the Seattle University Museum of Art, built on 12th Avenue near the Lee Center for the Arts.

The museum will be designed to support students and their curricula. Seattle University President Eduardo Peñalver said it “will serve as a bridge between our campus and the city.”

Philanthropists Betty and Richard Hedreen are shown sitting together and smiling.

Richard and Betty Hedreen; Betty was an alumna of Seattle University, and the donation is in her honor.

Photo via Richard Hedreen

The muse

OK, but why such a big gift? Dick Hedreen said the donation honors his beloved late wife — a Seattle U alumna. He wants the art pieces to stay together, all housed in one museum.

This isn’t the Hedreens first time offering their support to Seattle University. They were the main donors for the campus’ Chapel of St. Ignatius and co-chaired the campaign to fund Lee Center for the Arts. They’ve also gifted several art pieces displayed across campus.

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