Couple Donates $70 Million Collection to Philadelphia Museum of Art

The gift is a game-changer.

On Thursday, Art Museum CEO Timothy Rub announced that the museum has acquired one of the country’s most important collections of contemporary art from Keith and Katherine Sachs. Keith Sachs, a museum trustee since 1988, is the former CEO of Horsham-based Saxco International, a distributor of wine and liquor bottles.

The collection of 97 works spans the last 60 years and includes pieces by American masters Ellsworth Kelly and Jasper Johns, as well as dozens of other artists. The collection features paintings, both indoor and outdoor sculpture, large-format photography, and video art.

Here’s what Rub had to say:

The Sachs Collection reinforces and expands the scope of the Museum’s holdings of contemporary art and will enable us to present to our audiences a more comprehensive view of the art of the past half century. It brings this institution into the top echelon among encyclopedic museums that collect contemporary art. To find a comparable antecedent in terms of the potential impact of this gift for the Museum’s contemporary art collections, one undoubtedly would have to look back to the great collections donated to us by Albert E. Gallatin and Louise and Walter Arensberg in the early 1950s. For this reason we are delighted to celebrate this gift by naming the Museum’s suite of galleries devoted to modern and contemporary art The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Galleries.

The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Galleries will officially debut on March 3, 2014 with a dedication ceremony, and an exhibition dedicated to the collection will be mounted in 2016. Some of the collection is viewable now in the museum’s Modern and Contemporary Galleries, including Johns’ 5 Postcards, seen behind the couple in the above photo.

The New York Times estimates the value of the collection at $70 million. Rub told the Times that the “transformative” gift means that the museum “will have one of the best collections of contemporary art in the country.”

(PHOTO: Constance Mensh, Philadelphia Museum of Art)