Dorothy C. Brown; Gave Millions to County Art Museum, Opera


Dorothy Collins Brown, philanthropist who gave several million dollars and her artistic knowledge to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Opera and the Huntington Library and Art Gallery, has died at the age of 96.

Brown died Thursday in Los Angeles, said her attorney, J. Patrick Whaley.

In 1995, Brown donated $7 million to LACMA for renovation of Hancock Park, which surrounds the museum, and the nearby Page Museum, a part of the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History. The cash gift was the second-largest ever given to LACMA, following the $10 million donated by Walter H. Annenberg in 1990.

“Parks are vital to the life of any community,” Brown said at the time. “It is my fervent hope that this gift will help to create an inviting and attractive environment for the museum and surrounding neighborhood.”

Part of her donation was designated to fund the Dorothy Collins Brown Amphitheater, completed in July 1999 on the 6th Street side of the art museum. Among other programs, the amphitheater has played host to the Foliage Theatre Project’s annual Shakespeare in the Park productions.


When Brown presented the park renovation gift, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky called it “a marvelous thing.”

“Now more than ever, we need the charitable-giving community of Los Angeles to follow the lead of their predecessors who built the Music Center and the County Museum of Art, who gave us Griffith Park and the observatory, to take us into the 21st century,” he told The Times.

Brown, an avid antiques and art collector, had already contributed her time and funds to the art museum over several years. She served on its board of trustees from 1989 until her death, and funded its Dorothy Collins Brown Auditorium and the four-story waterfall that plunges into its central courtyard pool.

She had been one of the Music Center’s early benefactors, and she continued to underwrite productions of the Los Angeles Opera performed in the center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Brown served on the opera’s board of directors from 1987 until her death.

For the past 15 years, Brown was an active member of the Board of Overseers of the Huntington Library and Art Gallery in San Marino. Among her gifts to that institution was funding the Dorothy Collins Brown Wing of the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery, which opened in 1990. More recently, she funded an eight-acre Dorothy Collins Brown Garden, scheduled to open in June.

Born to oil wealth in Louisiana, Brown came to California with her family when she was a child. She was married for several years to the late Willard Everett Brown.

During her marriage, Brown established herself as a gracious hostess, opening her antique- and art-filled homes to local society and charitable titans and, on behalf of the World Affairs Council, to foreign dignitaries.

Whaley said Brown had no survivors.

A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. Friday in the Dorothy Collins Brown Amphitheater in Hancock Park.