Leslie Anne Miller calls herself “a redirected lawyer.” After a long legal career that included serving as general counsel of Pennsylvania under governor Ed Rendell and becoming, 20 years ago, the first woman president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Miller has turned to something new: the “very big job” of chairing the board of trustees of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“The art museum is hugely important,” says Miller GSNB’74, an avid art and antiques collector and gardener who joined the board in 2011 and became its chair in 2016. “It is not just an institution for the display of art; it is a leader in education, in civic outreach, and in economic input.”

It is also an institution in the midst of a multimillion-dollar renovation, designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, that will open the interior of the museum’s iconic 1928 building, whose front steps Sylvester Stallone famously ran up in the movie Rocky. Among her many duties, Miller is helping to supervise the project and raise $525 million to fund the first phase of the renovation, scheduled for completion in 2020. Over the years, she has served on the boards of nonprofits such as the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Flower Show, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Miller—whose husband, Richard B. Worley, chairs the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, among his roles serving on several boards during his career—has also been a board member of her undergraduate alma mater, Mount Holyoke College. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she earned a master’s in political science at Rutgers, where she was also awarded a fellowship at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, an experience that prompted her decision to get a legal education, which would be, in part, her ticket to public service.

The arts “are a gift that is largely accessible to all,” says Miller. “We increasingly have a diverse audience at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It is no longer the big edifice on the hill frequented by the elite. It is a people’s museum—and joyfully so.”

RUTGERS MAGAZINE: As board chair, you help oversee fundraising and construction for the art museum’s $525 million renovation. How’s it going?

LESLIE ANN MILLER: The Museum of Art is an old building, built in 1928, and, like all old houses, it got to the point where it needed some major attention. This has been an incremental project that has progressed to major construction to renovate the interior space: opening it up, making it more accessible, and providing more gallery space to display our collection. The first phase is scheduled to be completed in 2020, and at the present time we’re pretty much on schedule.

RM: Your husband, investment adviser Richard B. Worley, chairs the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Do you compete for donors?

LAM: There are overlapping areas on our fundraising wish lists, but we made an agreement to respect boundaries, and while we’re [keeping a firewall] between the governance of our two institutions, there is certainly sufficient communication to try to minimize competition.

RM: Your 2014 book Start With a House, Finish With a Collection (Scala Arts) showcases the art and antiques you’ve spent 30 years acquiring for your Bryn Mawr home in Pennsylvania.

LAM: We’ve combined formal Philadelphia furniture with Pennsylvania folk art, which is my love, and have amassed a “collection of collections” that we’re proud of but that we live with. Underscore “live”; it’s not a museum. One of the things about collecting has been the notion of stewarding these arts that have survived for very long periods of time, in the hope that we can encourage younger people to consider doing the same: to demonstrate that it really can be fun, that you’re not going to be refurnishing your grandparents’ house.

RM: In this age of digital stimulation, are museums important?

LAM: Our museum is a very important civic partner and is making a huge contribution on multiple levels. The arts, and culture in general, provide nourishment for the soul, and I think that they are a source of hope. They’re a gift in our midst, and they are a gift that is largely accessible to all. We increasingly have a diverse audience at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.