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ET and Lyn Williams

Leadership Circle


For almost as long as they’ve been collecting art by African-American artists, ET and Lyn Williams have been working to get those artists into the collections of museums around the country. From Hale Woodruff to Claude Lawrence, the couple has championed the inclusion of artists underrepresented in museums’ collections.

When ET and Lyn decided to move their winter retreat from Jamaica back to the US about 15 years ago, Naples was the closest they could come to getting the feel of the Caribbean waters. It also happened to have a fledgling museum that could use some of their influence. The relationship has grown from the donation of some works on paper by Woodruff to inclusion in last season’s Naples Collects exhibition with a stunning work by Lawrence. That piece is now part of The Baker Museum’s permanent collection in part because of the enthusiasm Museum Director and Chief Curator Frank Verpoorten showed for the work.

“We met Frank soon after he started,” ET says. “And we were especially happy when he was excited about some of the pieces in our collection by an artist that wasn’t well known.”

A more well-known black artist that ET and Lyn are very familiar with, Thornton Dial, is to be part of an exhibition later this season of outsider artists from the collection of the late William Louis-Dreyfus. ET says the couple had the opportunity to tour the Louis-Dreyfus collection only last year. Louis-Dreyfus said at the time he had the best collection of Dial’s work. ET politely disagreed, arguing his collection was the best. Just this year, Louis-Dreyfus, who passed away in September, visited the Williams’ northern home to view their works.

“We both agreed to disagree about whose was better,” ET says. “But I’m glad we’ll be getting to see some of those again here in Naples this year.”



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