Behind the Scenes at the DAM

Helen Dill Society Members Make a Difference at the Denver Art Museum

When Phyllis and Gary Vander Ark moved to Denver in 1970 they became members of the DAM to connect with their new community. Phyllis has now spent over 40 years as a volunteer, including serving as a greeter, docent, co-chair of three Collectors’ Choice events, and volunteer president. Meanwhile, Gary has made his mark in Denver as a neurosurgeon and founded Doctors Care in 1988 to provide healthcare to the underserved.

Phyllis and Gary continued their involvement at the DAM by becoming members of The Museum Associates and the Friends of Painting and Sculpture support group. The Vander Arks recently increased their support and joined the museum’s Helen Dill Society by making a legacy gift. By designating the DAM as a beneficiary for a percentage of their estate in their will, the Vander Arks hope that they will help the museum continue to strengthen its collection of painting and sculpture, as well as its educational outreach.

“What the museum is doing with the children in the community is amazing,” Phyllis says. “We are proud to be a part of this wonderful organization.”

What is the Helen Dill Society?

The Helen Dill Society is a legacy society that was inspired by a very special gift. In 1932, Denver school teacher Helen Dill gave a $100,000 bequest to the museum that allowed for the purchase of some of the DAM’s most iconic works of art, including impressionist landscapes by Claude Monet, a portrait by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and the inventive portrait by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, pictured below. 

Funds from the Helen Dill bequest allowed the museum to purchase this work by Guiseppe Arcimboldo in 1961. The painting belongs to the artist’s Four Seasons series. The museum is fortunate to also own Arcimboldo’s Autumn from the same series. Image credit: Guiseppe Arcimboldo, Summer, 1572. Oil on canvas; 36 x 27-3/4 in. Denver Art Museum; funds from Helen Dill bequest.

Did you know you can make a planned gift to the DAM and be recognized now?  There are many ways to leave a lasting legacy at the Denver Art Museum. To learn more, we invite you to contact Leah Fell at 720-913-0037 or lfell@denverartmusuem.org.

Leah Fell is the associate director of development, individual and corporate relations in the development department at the Denver Art Museum. Leah joined the DAM in spring 2013 and her favorite exhibitions have been Nick Cave: Sojourn and Figure to Field: Mark Rothko in the 1940sShe enjoys connecting donors with a passion for art to the DAM.