DMA Insight

An Enduring Legacy: The McDermott Collection of Impressionist and Modern Art

Margaret Milam and Eugene McDermott married in 1952 and began a partnership that led to remarkable philanthropy in Dallas and beyond. A Dallas native, Margaret was profoundly influenced by childhood visits to the Dallas Museum of Art. After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism, she was Society Editor for the Dallas Morning News, a publicist for the DMA, and a journalist who worked in Europe and Asia before returning to Texas and beginning her life with Eugene. Born in Brooklyn, Eugene came to Texas to work in the oil industry and eventually became the co-founder of Texas Instruments. Although Eugene’s initial philanthropic interests were in education, medicine, and science, his wife helped deepen his appreciation for art. Margaret and Eugene worked tirelessly to make Dallas a global leader in the arts and to inspire others to do the same.

One of the cornerstones of the McDermotts’ exceptional generosity was their interest in strengthening the DMA’s collection. They gave more than two thousand works of art to the Museum, including masterpieces of 19th- and 20th-century European and American art, foundational objects for the collections of African and Indonesian art, and significant contributions to ancient American art. In addition to giving artwork, the McDermotts endowed funds to support acquisitions, a paid internship program for young museum professionals (one of the first in the country), curatorial positions, and the DMA directorship. Over her lifetime, Margaret served as Museum president, chairman of the board, head of the education committee, and head of acquisitions.

Built between 1963 and 1993, the Eugene and Margaret McDermott Collection was one of the last major privately owned collections of Impressionism and Modernism in the United States. The thirty-five paintings, pastels, drawings, and sculptures include masterworks by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Edvard Munch. With the final gift of their astounding collection in 2018, the McDermotts have truly achieved their vision of transforming Dallas into a world-class destination for the study and appreciation of Impressionist and Modern art.

Adapted from

DMA exhibition label text, An Enduring Legacy: The McDermott Collection of Impressionist and Modern Art, 2018.