A fund established by 1964 Hamilton graduate Daniel W. Dietrich II, who died last year, has provided the college with a $6 million gift to establish The Daniel W. Dietrich ’64 Fund for Innovation in the Arts and The Daniel W. Dietrich ’64 Arts Museum Programming Fund. These two funds will significantly expand the College’s already robust arts programming for its faculty, students and community.
“Dan Dietrich was a warm, kind and thoughtful man,” said President Joan Hinde Stewart. “We are pleased that his love of art will live on at Hamilton through these generous endowments.”
Income from the Daniel W. Dietrich ’64 Fund for Innovation in the Arts will be used to make grants to faculty in the arts and curators at the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art. Emphasis will be placed on collaboration, innovation, exploration and risk-taking. The grants will be managed by the Dean of Faculty, who will appoint a panel of faculty artists and two outside evaluators to assess proposals and to make awards. Possible projects may run the gamut from technology-driven collaborative art installations to summer arts institutes to orchestrated gatherings of artists from several disciplines to create site-specific artworks on campus.
The grants will be called Dietrich inchworm grants following one of Dietrich’s favorite quotes by painter Albert P. Ryder: “Have you ever seen an inchworm crawl up a leaf or twig, and, then, clinging to the very end, revolves in the air, feeling for something to reach? That’s like me. I am trying to find something out there beyond the place on which I have a footing.”
The Daniel W. Dietrich ’64 Arts Museum Programming Fund income will be used to enable the Wellin Museum of Art to secure commitments from contemporary artists well in advance of planned exhibitions, to engage faculty and students with the exhibitions (and often to provide opportunities for students to assist the visiting artists in creating works for exhibitions), to integrate planned exhibitions into the curriculum, and to help local schools and other organizations incorporate these exhibitions into their curricula and co-curricular activities.
The College also will receive 24 pieces of art from Dietrich’s art collection and the funds for their stewardship.
“The Dietrich Arts Museum Programming Fund will allow for experimentation and risk in art-making at the Wellin Museum of Art,” said Wellin Museum Director Tracy Adler. “This grant supports the spirit and power of creativity by providing game-changing funding for the museum’s programming. It also allows for advanced planning which is crucial to the museum’s ability to commission site-specific works from visiting artists and to better integrate exhibitions into the Hamilton curriculum.”
An art history major at Hamilton, Dietrich was a longtime supporter of the former Emerson Gallery and joined the architectural committee for the construction of the Wellin Museum. He served on the College’s Committee on the Visual Arts and the Performing Arts Advisory Committee, as well as the Trustee Subcommittee for Arts Facilities Planning. The museum’s expansive exhibition gallery is named in his honor.
In recognition of his years of devotion to enhancing arts programming and facilities at Hamilton, Dietrich was awarded the Volunteer of the Year award in 2012 at the Wellin Museum’s opening dedication. According to the citation, he envisioned from the onset a museum and other spaces designed to draw the community together and make the arts accessible. “Possibly what led me to art history in the first place was that one could look deeply into a painting and trust it as deep as one wanted to look,” he said at the ceremony.
Dietrich's support of the arts extended to generous loans of significant works of art from his collection to exhibitions mounted at the Emerson Gallery and at the Wellin Museum of Art including a piece for the museum inaugural show, Affinity Atlas, by Paul Thek titled "Large Pumpkin Pyramid." For an earlier exhibition at the Emerson Gallery he loaned several paintings including a Edward Hopper and a Thomas Eakins. “To bring a Hopper here and an Eakins, it's really just paying my dues, giving them back to the community.” Dietrich first viewed Hopper’s "Road and Trees" as a Hamilton student in 1964 when the piece was included in a temporary exhibit visiting the College.