Director's Welcome

Welcome to the O’Donnell Institute

Richard Brettell, Founding Director of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, is among the world’s foremost authorities on Impressionism and French painting from 1830 to 1930.

The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History was founded in 2014 with a $17,000,000 endowment gift from Mrs. Edith O’Donnell, an important Dallas philanthropist. Her charge was to invent a new kind of art history—what she called "Art History, UT Dallas style." What she envisioned was an art history open to multidisciplinary research and at home in a university on the cutting edge of the sciences and technology. Since then, Mrs. O’Donnell’s endowment has been enriched by $10,000,000 from the State of Texas and $3,000,000 from other philanthropists.

We have accomplished a great deal since our founding in Fall 2014. We have built two headquarters: our main offices in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building at UT Dallas and a research center at the Dallas Museum of Art. We have launched major international research partnerships with Nanjing University in China and the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte in Naples. In Fall 2018 we welcomed the inaugural class of our new Master’s Program in Art History. We continue to build our faculty and graduate program, and to develop our multiple and varied research initiatives. The next three years will be even more transformative: we will build a new arts complex at the center of the UT Dallas campus that will bring together the O’Donnell Institute, a major art history research library, and a University museum.

This website is a continuously evolving record of our growth and transformation, as well as a source of information about our scholars, students, programs, and partnerships. I welcome you to it in the name of our founder, Edith O’Donnell.

— Dr. Richard R. Brettell
Founding Director, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History
and the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair