Late DPS art teacher leaves $1.71 million to DIA


  • Courtesy Detroit Institute of Arts
  • Elizabeth Verdow
A Detroit Public Schools art teacher left a $1.71 million gift in her will to the Detroit Institute of Arts, the museum says in a press release.

The donation comes from Elizabeth Verdow, a longtime Farmington Hills resident who died in 2014 at the age of 86. Verdow had been a museum shop volunteer at the DIA from 1990 to 2009.

According to a report by Mark Stryker at the Detroit Free Press, Verdow had told DIA officials in 2003 that she planned to leave the museum a gift — though she had not indicated the magnitude.

Verde's will stated that $1.26 million of the $1.71 million gift would be used for contemporary painting and sculpture acquisitions. $450,000 is to go toward the museum’s operating endowment.

“We are humbled by Elizabeth’s longtime dedication to and support of the DIA,” DIA director Salvador Salort-Pons said in a statement. “She enriched the lives of countless visitors during her 19 years of volunteer service, and her gift will help enhance our contemporary art collection, greatly benefiting our community. We are so inspired by her philanthropy and civic commitment. She has set a very high example for all, and her legacy will live on for years to come. We are deeply grateful and moved.”

It is currently not clear how Verdow made her fortune. She reportedly never married, and had no children or relatives in Michigan. 

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.