Late Twin Cities Art Collector Was ‘Bigger Than Life’

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Last month the Twin Cities lost a renowned art collector and philanthropist.

Her name was Dolly Fiterman.

“She was bigger than life, she had such charisma and drive and love of people and art and things,” said her daughter Kimberly.

Over the years, Dolly filled her Minneapolis home with elaborate artwork and even opened an art gallery.

She also made significant donations to museums across the Twin Cities.

In this week’s Life Story, Angela Davis shows us what made Dolly so memorable.

Early on, it was clear Dolly knew how to stand out in a crowd.

She grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota and then Dolly hit the road.

dolly fiterman Late Twin Cities Art Collector Was Bigger Than Life

Dolly Fiterman (credit: CBS)

She worked as a fashion model and actress in Minneapolis and New York City.

“She was not a shrinking violet. She was very ambitious,” Kimberley said.

Her daughter Kimberley says Dolly’s travels took her to cities all over Europe in the 1950s.

After she got married and became a mother, she turned her attention to filling her home with colorful art.

Kimberley has fond memories of a woman who was refined but also fun.

“She was never like ‘Don’t touch this, don’t touch that.’ I was allowed to do cartwheels in the living room. Because she would do cartwheels. She was a drum majorette at some point,”  she said.

In 1976, Dolly opened an art gallery in the same office building where her husband ran his finance business.

She eventually bought an entire building to showcase her growing art collection and the artists who created it.

“It wasn’t just the art and collecting, it was the people. It wasn’t just knowing the artist and their work, it was knowing their whole life and everything about them, and befriending them and their families,” she said.

Her circle of friends was large and adoring.

“Dolly was an experience, they would say. And when she would walk into a room, she just commanded it. She was bigger than life,” Kimberley said.

After her husband died, Dolly added on to their home, creating more space with higher ceilings.

“She decided she wanted those bigger things surrounding her which is why this is here. Obviously not small works of art that are in this space. She would say every day, ‘I love my home. This is such a beautiful home’ You know. And she could just look at everything, and all the wonderful memories,” Kimberley said.

Dolly Fiterman was 93 years old when she died at her home, on August 19th.

The University of St. Thomas awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1997 for her contributions to the arts community and humanitarian projects.

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