An author, art historian, collector, philanthropist, and cultural editor, Fortune, who died in 2018, established Advancing Women Artists in Florence, Italy, and served on the boards of several organizations, including the dean's advisory board for the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the national advisory board of the Eskenazi Museum. In 2010, IU recognized her with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Fortune left the Eskenazi Museum a collection of sixty-one works of fine art as well as funds to establish the Dr. Jane Fortune Endowment for Women Artists and the Dr. Jane Fortune Fund for Virtual Advancement of Women Artists. Her last endeavor, A Space of Their Own, brought together research by Advancing Women Artists, the Eskenazi Museum, and IU to create the most comprehensive database in the world dedicated to female artists from the 1500s to the 1800s.
Fortune’s collection includes works by female artists, photographs, and contemporary art, including a rare drawing by Sister Plautella Nelli, whose work has come to light through Fortune's efforts to locate and conserve works by female Florentine artists; a rare cyanotype photograph by the nineteenth-century British photographer Anna Atkins; and a wall-mounted work by Ghanaian-born artist El Anatsui, the first work by that artist in the Eskenazi's collection. In recognition of the gift, the museum will name its first-floor gallery of American and European Art the Jane Fortune Gallery.
"Jane's passion and dedication to the arts, especially the underrecognized achievements of women artists, will live on at Indiana University through the seeds that she has planted with her generous gifts," said David A. Brenneman, the Wilma E. Kelley Director of the Eskenazi Museum of Art. "The Eskenazi Museum of Art is extremely proud to be handed Jane's torch and to continue Jane's mission into the future."