DMA Insight

Ida and Cecil Green

Cecil Green was English by birth but grew up in the United States and Canada, attending the University of British Columbia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From an early age, he was intellectually curious and interested in the arts and culture. These were passions he shared with his wife, Ida, who said of their long marriage, "We always worked as a team." The couple endowed many cultural institutions, from museums to libraries to universities. With a background in engineering, Cecil Green first came to Dallas to work in the petroleum business at the urging of Eugene McDermott. Later he became one of the founders of Texas Instruments and brought a unique mind and spirit to the enrichment of his adopted city. In the mid-1960s, with the encouragement of Dallas Museum of Fine Arts Director Merrill Rueppel, the Greens began to build up the antiquities section of the Museum, giving Etruscan jewelry and ceramics, Attic Greek vases, and the superb Greek figure of a young man (1966.26), one of the masterpieces of the Museum's collections. This was followed in 1973 by the donation of the equally important Roman figure of a woman (1973.11).

After Ida Green's death in 1986, her estate came partly to the Dallas Museum of Art, where it has been used to purchase classical antiquities, always a personal love of the Greens. The Ida M. Green Endowment Fund has greatly enriched the Museum, as have the Ida M. and Cecil H. Green Family Fund and the Cecil H. Green Expansion Campaign Fund. In addition to purchases of artworks, these funds have contributed to the support of Museum operations, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, the reinstallation of the third-level galleries in 1996 (The Arts of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific), and several special exhibitions, most notably Searching for Ancient Egypt. The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation continues its important support of Museum acquisitions and programs. While the Greens helped the Museum acquire decorative arts, like The Faith P. and Charles L. Bybee Collection, as well as African works, the main force of the family's collecting was in antiquities. Cecil Green played an important role in acquiring the Moretti Collection of ancient gold jewelry in 1991. This is one of the high points of the Dallas Museum of Art's holdings of ancient art. The extensive collection of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman gold jewelry traveled to several museums between 1998 and 2000 and is displayed in the Museum's classical galleries, which are named for the Greens.

Other important antiquities purchased with the Green Fund's assistance are the Egyptian coffin of Horankh (1994.184), the Roman battle sarcophagus (1999.107), and a Greco-Roman mummy portrait from Egypt (1995.182). A spectacular pair of Hellenistic Greek gold earrings decorated with the figures of Eros, god of love (1995.25.A-B), are a symphonic counterpart to the Etruscan gold earrings the Greens purchased in the 1960s (1966.25.A-B). Ida and Cecil Green's interest in the arts of the ancient Mediterranean world was a natural focus for two people who were profoundly humanist at heart. In his recollections of his long career, when he was in his nineties, Cecil Green stressed how important not simply books and art but new ideas—new visions, the endlessly questing spirit of humankind—had been for him and his beloved wife, Ida. In the best Roman way, they could have said with the poet Terence, "Nothing human is alien to me."

Adapted from

Anne Bromberg, PhD, “Ida M. and Cecil H. Green,” in Dallas Museum of Art, 100 Years , ed. Dorothy M. Kosinski (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art, 2003), Pamphlet number 25.