Dia's collection was assembled largely during the 1970s and early 1980s by Dia’s founders, Philippa de Menil and Heiner Friedrich, with Helen Winkler.
The original collection included works by some of the leading artists of the 1960s and 1970s including Joseph Beuys, John Chamberlain, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Imi Knoebel, Blinky Palermo, Fred Sandback, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Robert Whitman.
Anticipating the opening of Dia:Beacon, Dia worked with Louise and Leonard Riggio, Lannan Foundation, Brown Foundation, and other generous donors to augment its collection with focused acquisitions and long-term loans of artworks by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Louise Bourgeois, Hanne Darboven, Michael Heizer, Robert Irwin, On Kawara, Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Bruce Nauman, Robert Ryman, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, and Lawrence Weiner.
In addition to works at Dia:Beacon, Dia's collection comprises long-term, site-specific projects in the western United States, New York City, and Bridgehampton, Long Island. These works, including The Lightning Field, Spiral Jetty, and The Dan Flavin Art Institute, reflect Dia's commitment to promoting art that extends beyond a traditional exhibition framework. Artists in the collection include: