Carter, who also was a member of the U.S. women's ski team in the 1930s, died Monday at her home in Menlo Park, Calif., said her son Jim Caldwell.
Carter and her late husband, Edward W. Carter, the longtime head of the Broadway department store chain and its parent company, Carter Hawley Hale, actively promoted arts and education after their marriage in 1963.
Among the positions he held was chairman of the University of California Board of Regents, and in 1965 the couple donated to UCLA the Japanese garden next to their Bel-Air home. The university later named the 1-acre plot the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden. (It is open three days a week by reservation.)
Carter and her husband, who also was founding president of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, were prominent art collectors and freely lent paintings to the museum and other institutions, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
In 2003, seven years after her husband died, Carter gave LACMA a dozen 17th and 18th century Dutch paintings and promised the rest of the couple's collection to the museum.
Andrea Rich, then LACMA's director, called the 12 paintings "first-rate masterpieces, every one."
"She wants to enjoy the public enjoying them," Rich said of Carter, who had served as a museum trustee since 1989. "This is what makes great institutions. Without people like this, it just doesn't happen."
The paintings;id=501403;type=802, mostly still-lifes, landscapes, seascapes and church interiors, are on display in a permanent gallery named for the Carters.
Besides LACMA, the Carters were major supporters of the Los Angeles Music Center, San Francisco Opera, UCLA Arts Council and Hollywood Bowl.
Carter's early life was filled with more active pursuits.
Born May 13, 1914, in Morristown, N.J., she became an accomplished figure skater and snow skier as a girl.
In the 1930s, as a member of the U.S. women's ski team, she competed in International Ski Federation races in Europe.
She was named to the U.S. Olympic team for the 1940 Winter Games, but they were canceled because of World War II.
Carter kept skiing and remained active in the Olympic movement, serving on the board of directors of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee in 1984.
She was named to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1973.
Carter, who moved to Menlo Park in 2005, is survived by five children from her first marriage to Emott Caldwell, which ended in divorce: Anne Caldwell of Eugene, Ore., Hannah "Haydi" C. Sowerwine of Menlo Park, Jim Caldwell of Woodside, Calif., Jonathan A. Caldwell of Stratham, N.H., and Julie C. Tave of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France; a stepson, William Carter; nine grandchildren, five step-grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and seven step-great-grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned May 21 at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Menlo Park.