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$300 million art collection plus and $25 million seed money gifted to university by philanthropist Dick Hedreen
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$300 million art collection plus and $25 million seed money gifted to university by philanthropist Dick Hedreen

The trustees of Seattle University, one of the nation’s leading Jesuit institutions, announced receipt of a transformational gift to create the Seattle University Museum of Art, supporting academic and student life throughout the 55-acre campus, which is a short walk from downtown Seattle, and creating an important new cultural destination for the city as a whole.

Philanthropist Richard Hedreen has given the university the renowned Hedreen Collection (named for himself and his late wife Elizabeth “Betty” Ann Petri Hedreen, a Seattle University alumna) valued at $300 million, along with $25 million in seed funding to develop the museum. The donation is the largest gift of art ever made to a U.S. university and the largest gift of any kind in the 133-year history of Seattle University. It is also the largest single gift of any kind ever made to a university in the state of Washington.

The Hedreen Collection comprises more than 200 works of art dating from the 15th century to today. Strengths of the collection include paintings and sculpture by artists including Titian, Jacopo da Pontormo, Jan Lievens, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Luis Melendez, Thomas Gainsborough, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Indiana; etchings by Lucien Freud representing three decades of his career; 20th-century photographs by artists including Berenice Abbott, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Irving Penn, Louis Stettner, and Andy Warhol; and contemporary works by artists including Cecily Brown (represented by six paintings), Rashid Johnson, Vic Muniz, Amy Sherald, and Anna Weyant, among many others.

Patrick J. Callans, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “The unstinting support that Dick and Betty Hedreen gave Seattle University over so many years has now reached a peak with this truly unprecedented gift. On behalf of the Board, the university community, and the entire city, now and far into the future, I offer our deep and unending gratitude.”

“Since their earliest days, the Jesuits have recognized the visual arts as a powerful tool of communication and teaching, and the arts are an essential part of the holistic Jesuit model of higher education,” said Seattle University President Eduardo Peñalver. “Seattle University is honored to receive this transformational gift from the Hedreens, who have built one of the finest private art collections in the nation. In a single magnificent gesture, Dick Hedreen has provided Seattle University with the world-class holdings for a teaching museum that will span centuries of art history and spark learning and discussion across the entire curriculum.

Just as important, this new museum will serve as a bridge between our campus and the city, expanding access to the arts for traditionally underserved communities and helping us realize our mission of educating the whole person and empowering leaders for a just and humane world.”

“My wife, Betty, attended Seattle University and I am giving the collection to the university in her honor,” said Dick Hedreen. “Betty and I always felt that we were custodians of the artworks we acquired, holding them in trust for a larger purpose. The Jesuits place a special focus on the arts and humanities, including art history, and that has long been reflected in Seattle University’s Jesuit education and its connections to the Seattle arts community. My goal is to keep the collection together in the new Seattle University Museum of Art, which will have a profound and lasting impact on students and faculty.”

Over the past 25 years, Dick and his late wife Betty Hedreen have helped to transform the campus, ensuring that art became part of the infrastructure of Seattle University. They were among the lead donors for the university’s award-winning Chapel of Saint Ignatius designed by architect Steven Holl, which opened in 1997, and they co-chaired the funding campaign to build the university’s Lee Center for the Arts, which houses the Hedreen Gallery for rotating exhibits of new work by emerging artists.

As members of the art selection committees for the university’s Student Center and Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons, Dick and Betty tirelessly shared their passion for art and artists with faculty and students. Through the years, they have given signature pieces of art to nearly every campus building, including outdoor sculptures by Joel Shapiro and James Rosati and paintings by leading modern and contemporary artists David Bates, Alfred Jenzen, Bill Jacklin, Jo Baer, Elizabeth Murray, Larry Poons, Francesco Clemente, and Al Souza, among others, as well as Henry Matisse’s Jazz Series. Betty, who died in 2022, received the university’s Alumna of the Year Award in 2011.

Born in Seattle, Richard “Dick” Hedreen attended Garfield High School and later the University of Washington where in 1957 he graduated with a degree in civil engineering. In 1963, Hedreen founded the general contracting company R. C. Hedreen Co., with operations in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Through his business, Hedreen was instrumental in the development of hotels that helped build out Seattle’s hospitality industry, from the Hilton in 1969 to the Renaissance Seattle Hotel in 1983 and several Hyatt hotels including the Hyatt Regency Seattle, which opened in 2019.

Hedreen met his late wife Betty (Petri) Hedreen while she was attending Seattle University. Over the years, the couple assembled an extraordinary collection of contemporary and modern art, 18th and 19th century art, and Old Masters. It is one of the highest quality and most comprehensive private collections in the United States.

Richard and Betty have donated pieces from their collection to the Seattle Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, and Seattle University, including James Rosati’s Loo Wit and a set of paintings by Aboriginal artists from Australia. Beginning in 1990, Betty served on the Seattle Art Museum Board of Trustees. Richard has been an active member of the International Council of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Trustee Council of the National Gallery of Art.

Inspired by the 1997 opening of Steven Holl’s internationally acclaimed Chapel of St. Ignatius, which put Seattle University on the map as a significant destination for art and architecture in the Pacific Northwest, every new or renovated building has become a venue for important works of modern, contemporary, and Indigenous art created by local and international artists. Many of the works acquired since 1997 are contemporary, representing diverse styles and media, ranging from monumental pieces in major spaces to small pieces encountered in remote study areas. Artists represented include Dale Chihuly, Joel Shapiro, James Rosati, Alfredo Arreguín, Gaylen Hansen, Jacob Lawrence, Alfredo Jaar, Julian Opie, George Tsutakawa, Paul Horiuchi, Henri Matisse, Roy Lichtenstein, Preston Singletary, Tommy and Calvin Hunt, Susan Point, and many others.

Seattle University, founded in 1891, is a Jesuit, Catholic university located on 55 acres at the intersection of Seattle’s thriving Capitol Hill and First Hill neighborhoods—in the heart of one of the most innovative cities in the world. Nearly 7,200 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs across more than 120 programs.

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