Rogers, Grace Rainey (1867–1943)

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Rogers, Grace Rainey (1867–1943)

American art collector and philanthropist who donated large sums of money and art to the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on June 28, 1867; died in Greenwich, Connecticut, on May 9, 1943; one of four children of William J. Rainey (a businessman who made a fortune in the coke industry) and Eleanor B. (Mitchell) Rainey; educated at Mrs. Mittleburger's School in Cleveland; married Henry Welsh Rogers (a New York businessman), on September 28, 1907 (divorced 1918); no children.

Grace Rainey Rogers was one of the 20th century's greatest patrons of the arts. The daughter of wealthy Cleveland businessman William J. Rainey, she developed an early interest in art due to the influence of her mother Eleanor B. Mitchell Rainey , an art collector and philanthropist in her own right. Rogers received her education at Cleveland's Mrs. Mittleburger's School, and her frequent trips to Europe in the course of her youth served to launch what would be an extensive private art collection, starting with 18th-century French paintings as well as Persian art.

Divorced in 1918 and childless, Rogers spent much of her later life supporting various art museums. She was a fellow of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and an original trustee of the Museum of Modern Art, both located in New York City. She also supported the Cleveland Museum of Art, as a member of the advisory council as well as through one of her most noteworthy gifts, the Rousseau de la Rottière Room. Its sumptuous contents had been designed for the comptroller general of finance during the reign of Louis XV, and had occupied a room in her New York appartment prior to her donation of it to the museum in 1942. Other significant philanthropic contributions included the Paul J. Rainey Memorial Gates for the Bronx Zoo, which she commissioned in 1934 in memory of her brother Paul J. Rainey, an explorer and wildlife motion-picture photographer who had died in 1923. The Audubon Society received his Louisiana animal farm, renamed the Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary, as a gift from Rogers. She also took interest in and gave generously to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Children's Aid Society, and Dorothy Eustis ' The Seeing Eye, an organization committed to providing seeingeye dogs to the blind.

Some of Rogers' most significant donations occurred after her death at age 75 in 1943. Her bequest of $696,000 to the Museum of Modern Art made possible the construction of an art center for amateurs—named the Grace Rainey Rogers Memorial Annex—in 1951, and the Metropolitan Museum built the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium in 1954 with the $731,000 she left it in her will. The Cleveland Museum received a smaller, although still significant, amount totaling $235,000. Rogers also willed $200,000 to the Eleanor B. Rainey Memorial Institute, founded by her mother.


James, Edward T., ed. Notable American Women, 1607–1950. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1971.

Linda S. Walton , freelance writer, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan

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Rogers, Grace Rainey (1867–1943)

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