Remembering: Nancy McNeil

Remembering: Nancy McNeil

grayscale photo of two people in an office environment organizing rolls of slides

Nancy McNeil (right) processes application slides for a Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Photo by Eric Mitchell, courtesy of PMA.

With sadness we recognize the passing of Nancy M. McNeil, who died on January 18, 2022. She was an ardent supporter of the field of contemporary American craft both in her home city of Philadelphia and in the national arena.

Nancy took an early interest in the growing American craft studio movement in the 1960s. Her personal collection contained objects in all craft media but reflected a particular interest in fiber. Nancy worked to promote the crafts as a new art movement in her role as a member of the Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 1977 she founded the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, which raised nearly $14 million to benefit the craft collection and programming for the Museum. She gave a total of ninety-one works over her lifetime to the Museum collection to build its craft collection. Nancy and her husband, Robert, created an endowment in 2006 for a curatorship to further the interpretation of craft objects through exhibitions and educational programming. The “Nancy M. McNeil Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts” was named in honor of her significant contribution to the Museum and to the field.

grayscale photo of a woman and man posingand smiling as the woman holds up a medal that the man is wearing around his neck

Nancy McNeil presents an award to glass artist Harvey Littleton at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show in 1989.

Nancy was influential on the national craft stage as well, serving as a trustee for the American Craft Council from 1979 to 1982, including serving as the Chairman of the Museum Advisory Committee for the American Craft Museum. She was awarded the Aileen Osborn Webb Award for Philanthropy in 2012.

Make a gift in honor of Nancy

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has established the Nancy McKinney McNeil Acquisition Fund for Contemporary Crafts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to enhance its collection of contemporary crafts.

Contribute to the fund