Daniel J. Terra

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Daniel James Terra
Daniel J. Terra and Ronald Reagan.jpg
1988, right
Born June 8, 1911
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died June 28, 1996(1996-06-28) (aged 85)
Washington, D.C.
Occupation Chemical Engineering
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Adeline Evans Richards(her death)
Judith Banks (1986-1996) (his death)

Daniel J. Terra (8 June 1911 – 28 June 1996) was a scientist, businessman, and art collector. A first-generation Italian-American, Terra earned a chemical engineering degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1931, and founded Lawter Chemicals in Chicago in 1940. The success of his global enterprise enabled him to pursue his cultural interests, assembling an art collection and participating in several Chicago arts institutions.[1]

Early life[edit]

Terra, the grandson of lithographers who immigrated from Italy, was raised in Pennsylvania. He worked as an apprentice in his family's shop while studying chemistry. Through his undergraduate thesis research, he discovered a new ink vehicle, which allowed printing presses to run faster than ever before, leading to the creation of Life magazine, the first news-picture publication. In 1940, Terra borrowed funds from a friend, John Lawson and founded a printing-chemical firm, Lawter Chemicals, one of the world largest producers of printing inks and chemicals.

His interest in art and collecting began in 1937 when he married Adeline Evans Richards, a painter and a student of art history.[2]

Terra was finance chairman of Ronald Reagan's 1980 Presidential campaign and was rewarded by being named the United States' first and only Ambassador at Large for Cultural Affairs, serving in that post from 1981-07-15 to 1989-01-27.[3][4]

He founded the Terra Foundation for American Art in 1978 and the Terra Museum of American Art in 1980. After his death the museum became the object of a court case when his widow attempted to have the museum moved from Chicago, Illinois to Washington, D.C. The museum subsequently closed to be merged with the Art Institute of Chicago.[5][6]

Honors and Awards[edit]

  • 1972 Winthrop-Sears Medal from The Chemists' Club of New York for entrepreneurial achievement in the chemical industry.[7]


  1. ^ Hughes, Robert (1987-08-10). "How To Start a Museum". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  2. ^ Pace, Eric (1996-07-01). "Daniel J. Terra, 85, Founder of Art Museum in Giverny, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  3. ^ "Ambassadors at Large, 1949-2005". United States Department of State. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  4. ^ "Nominations & Appointments, February 11, 1981". Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  5. ^ Jones, James (2005-08-19). "The Art Of Political Fundraising". Washington City Paper. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  6. ^ Buntrock v. Terra, 1-01-3152 (1St District Illinois May 2004). Text
  7. ^ Who's Who in Finance and Industry (22nd ed.). Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1981. ISBN 9780083790326. 

External links[edit]