Amherst College Receives $22 Million for Emily Dickinson Museum

Amherst College Receives $22 Million for Emily Dickinson Museum

Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, has announced a $22 million gift in support of the Emily Dickinson Museum from the late William McCall Vickery, a founding member of the museum's board.

The largest gift ever to the museum — part of a $25 million gift from Vickery to the college — will establish the William McCall Vickery '57 Emily Dickinson Fund in support of the maintenance and improvement of the museum's buildings, grounds, and collections. The museum includes two Dickinson family homes — the Homestead and the Evergreens — as well as three acres of the family's original property and more than seven thousand objects. A devoted Amherst College alumnus, volunteer, employee, and supporter, Vickery helped found the museum in 2003, when the Evergreens, which had been the house of the poet's brother, was transferred to the college; the Homestead was acquired by the college in 1965.

A smaller portion of the gift will create the William McCall Vickery '57 Piano Fund in support of the restoration, rebuilding, repair, and purchase of pianos for the Amherst College music department. To mark his fiftieth reunion in 2007, Vickery endowed the William McCall Vickery 1957 Professorship, which recognizes a senior faculty member distinguished by and dedicated to teaching and research in either art history or musicology.

Vickery retired in 1987 as board vice chair and chair of advertising firm DFS International and began his "second career" at his alma mater, holding positions in advancement and serving as assistant treasurer until his retirement in 2008. He contributed generously to more than twenty-six individual funds at the college. 

"Bill Vickery truly cherished the Emily Dickinson Museum," said executive director Jane Wald. "He was acutely aware of the importance — and possibility — of restoring Emily Dickinson's Homestead, her brother's house, The Evergreens, and the historic gardens and grounds. He was at the lead in every undertaking for the museum's improvement, and his quiet enthusiasm was infectious and never deterred. His transformative gift will enable the museum to become the true center of celebration of Emily Dickinson's life and work."