Shapiro Award Dinner

Honoring Helen Zell

Helen Zell was honored with the tenth Joseph R. Shapiro Award on April 16, 2015.

Thanks to the remarkable generosity of the nearly 400 guests in attendance—as well as those who could be there only in spirit—the event raised more than $674,400 in support of the Smart Museum of Art.

Helen Zell is a self-described obsessive collector who, with her husband Sam, has built one of Chicago’s most important collections of twentieth-century art. The constantly-evolving collection includes surrealist paintings by Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, and Yves Tanguy, as well as works by Joseph Cornell, Frida Kahlo, and Joan Miró.

Zell is the Executive Director of the Zell Family Foundation. She is a trustee and past chair of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Vice Chairman of The Chicago Public Education Fund; a director of the Ounce of Prevention Fund; a trustee of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and a trustee of Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Zell earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Michigan.

The Joseph R. Shapiro Award

The Joseph R. Shapiro Award honors the vision and connoisseurship of this city’s most distinguished collectors of art. The award is named in memory of philanthropist and "dean of Chicago collectors" Joseph R. Shapiro (1904–1996), who was an alumnus of the University of Chicago, a life trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the founding president of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Proceeds from the award dinner support the full range of the Smart Museum's educational and cultural mission and help ensure that the Museum is always free and open to all.

Past honorees