Philadelphia collector, artist, and philanthropist Linda Lee Alter has donated the lion's share of her collection of art by women - about 400 works - to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, academy officials announced Monday.
The works, in a variety of media, span most of the 20th century as well as the last decade in American art.
Some of the artists - who include Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Joan Brown, Viola Frey, Ana Mendieta, Christina Ramberg, and Beatrice Wood - are not currently represented in the academy collection. Others, such as Alice Neel, Louise Nevelson, Gertrude Abercrombie, Edna Andrade, Sue Coe, Janet Fish, Sarah McEneaney, Gladys Nilsson, Elizabeth Osborne, Betye Saar, and Nancy Spero, already have an academy presence, which will now be strengthened.
Alter, who is 71, began assembling her collection in the 1980s when she realized that many museums did not adequately present work by women. In 1993 she founded the Leeway Foundation to support and advance the careers of female artists, particularly those in the Philadelphia region.
The academy will take possession of the collection this winter and is planning to exhibit works by late spring; a comprehensive catalog of the collection is also planned, officials said.
"The Academy has warmly welcomed my collection," said Alter, in a statement. "It is the home for the art by women I'd always hoped to find."
Robert Cozzolino, the academy's modern art curator, said Alter's collection possessed "depth and reach."
Her gift, he said, "enhances our holdings of work by women and allows us to more fully examine the place of women artists in the canon of American art."