Fifty by Fifty
He was a postal clerk. She was a librarian. With their modest means, the couple managed to build one of the most important contemporary art collections in history.
Developed as the follow-up film to Megumi Sasaki’s award-winning documentary HERB & DOROTHY (2008) that moved millions of art-lovers worldwide, HERB & DOROTHY 50X50 captures the last chapter of the Vogel’s extraordinary life and their gift to the nation, raising various questions on art, and what it takes to support art in today’s society.
In 2008, legendary art collectors Herb and Dorothy Vogel made an announcement that stunned the art world. Known and loved as a retired postal worker (Herb) and librarian (Dorothy) who built a world-class art collection on their humble salaries, the Vogels launched a national gift project with the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC that would constitute one of the largest gifts in the history of American art: to give a total of 2,500 artworks to museums in all 50 states.
This came 16 years after the Vogels had transferred their entire collection to the National Gallery of Art, the majority as a gift, making headlines in 1992. During those years at the NGA, the collection had grown to nearly 5,000 pieces, too large for any one museum to contain. As a solution, a national gift project titled The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States was conceived. Though their collection was now worth millions of dollars, the couple did not sell a single piece, instead giving fifty works to one museum in every state. Having worked their whole lives as civil servants, their wish was to give back to the people of the United States.