Mary Margaret 'Moo' Anderson, art collector and philanthropist, dies at 92


Mary Margaret "Moo" Anderson, who along with her husband donated the core of her family's 20th-century American art collection to Stanford University, died Tuesday, Oct. 22, at her home in Atherton at the age of 92, according to a news release from the university.

The Andersons announced in 2011 that they would donate 121 works by 86 artists to the university, with Stanford in charge of constructing a free-standing building to house the collection. The Anderson Collection, which is housed next to the university's Cantor Arts Center, opened its doors in 2014.

By that time, the Andersons had already donated much of their collection, which once numbered more than 1,200 pieces, to various museums, including Stanford, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Mary Margaret Anderson's husband, Harry “Hunk” Anderson, died last year at the age of 95.

The Anderson gallery includes works from schools of American modern art including abstract impressionism, color field painting, post-minimalism, California funk art, and light and space. Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Kline, Morris Louis, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella and Jackson Pollock are among the artists whose works are included.

"'Moo' Anderson will forever be remembered for her love of art, but also for her love of sharing art,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne in the news release. “In the early days of her and Hunk’s collecting, she listened and learned from curators and art historians, and spent a great deal of time examining the artwork in museums, galleries and artists’ studios in person."

Mary Margaret Anderson was born in Boston, graduated from D'Youville College in Buffalo, New York, and met her husband in the summer of 1948.

They were married two years later and moved to the Bay Area in 1964, when Hunk Anderson opened the national headquarters of Saga, the food service company he founded that specialized in serving college dormitories, in Palo Alto. Saga then moved to Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, where Quadrus is now located.

The Andersons started collecting art about that time and soon began seeking guidance from Stanford art professors Nathan Oliveira and Albert Elsen to help them with their acquisitions.

The Andersons also developed a library of art books and catalogs related to the art and artists represented in the collection.

As part of their original gift, the Andersons donated a large percentage of that library to Stanford so that scholars are able to benefit from the same educational material as the family did.

More than 30 doctoral candidates in art history at the university have interned at the Anderson Collection, engaging in intensive study and curating exhibitions, according to Stanford.

“It’s good to study art in books, but something happens in the presence of the original. It affects the brain, taste, feelings and more,” Mary Margaret Anderson said at the opening of the collection. “I think in order to enjoy art, you have to share it.”

Mary Margaret Anderson is survived by her daughter, Mary Patricia “Putter” Anderson Pence of Los Angeles, and a granddaughter, Devin Pence.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Anderson's memory may be made to the St. Francis Center in Redwood City.

The Almanac will publish more about Anderson in its Oct. 30 print edition issue.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


4 people like this
Posted by Nancy Reyering
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 26, 2019 at 12:06 pm

My life was greatly influenced by fortunate connections with the Andersons and their collections. I worked at Saga in the mid-1970's and then, in the 1980's, when the Kaiser Family Foundation bought the property, I was hired to develop their Executive Suites.

Many years later, as VP of the Stanford Professional Women's Alumni Association, I scheduled several tours of the Collection, both at Quadrus and at the Anderson's lovely home. I am grateful to have worked in such a phenomenal space and also to have worked for such extraordinary people who had the vision for both the art AND the environment, and made it come to life.

Thank you, Hunk and Moo, for your many gifts to our region. Dear Moo, you were an extraordinary woman whose gifts, kindness, and generosity were legion. Rest In Peace.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Su Hong 2.0? Former waiter reopens Chinese standby under new name in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 12 comments | 7,013 views

What gives you hope?
By Sherry Listgarten | 19 comments | 3,393 views

Living as Roommates? Not Having Much Sex?
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 3,392 views

Holiday Traditions
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 888 views


The holidays are here!

From live music to a visit with Santa, here's a look at some local holiday activities to help you get into the spirit of the season.