Declared the "quintessential Philadelphian" in 1993 by Philadelphia Magazine, Robert Montgomery Scott gave forty years of service as an arts and civic leader, and was best known for his long association with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Scott became a Trustee of the Museum in 1965. In 1977 he was appointed Vice-President of the Corporation and then President in 1980. Two years later, the President's position became a full-time salaried one, with Scott assuming the role of President and CEO. During Scott's stewardship, the Museum's annual attendance reached a high of 950,000 visitors and its endowment grew almost six-fold. Scott retired as President in 1996, but continued to serve as Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees until his death in 2005.
Born May 22, 1929, Scott grew up on Ardrossan, his maternal grandfather's 650-acre estate located in the affluent western suburbs of Philadelphia known as the Main Line. (The area was named after the Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line, which still operates today.) The estate remained Scott's lifelong home. His father, Edgar Scott, was an investment banker, whose family fortune came from the Pennsylvania Railroad. His mother was Hope Montgomery Scott, daughter of Col. Robert Leaming Montgomery, a financier and founder of the investment firm Janney Montgomery Scott. Scott's mother was also the well-known socialite who, it has been said, served as the model for Katharine Hepburn's character, Tracy Lord, in the Broadway and 1940 movie versions of "The Philadelphia Story."
Upon graduating in 1952 from Harvard University, Scott attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School, earning his degree in 1954. The next year he joined the firm of Montgomery McCracken Walker Rhoads, which was founded by his great-uncle. He later became a partner there. In 1969 Scott went to Great Britain and for four years worked as special assistant to the U.S. Ambassador Walter Annenberg. In his commitment to the city of Philadelphia, Scott served on 17 civic and cultural boards. In addition to his work with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Scott served as president of the Academy of Music and served on the boards of the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Independence Foundation, the William Penn Foundation and the Fox Chase Cancer Center. Scott had two daughters and one son with his former wife, Gay. He died October 13, 2005.