Both are American art collectors. Herbet never finished high school and worked as a clerk for the United States Postal Service until retiring in 1980.Dorothy held a masters degree and worked as a librarian in the Brooklyn Public Library. Early in their marriage, they both took painting classes at New York Univerity, but gave up painting in favor of collecting.
Together they built a large and impressive contemporary art collection on their modest incomes. Though their focus is conceptual art and minimalist art the collection also includes noteworthy post minimalist work.They amassed a collection of over 4,782 works, which they kept in their one-bedroom rent controlled New York City apartment. In 1992, they decided to transfer the entire collection to the National Gallery of Art. More recently, in late 2008, they launched The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States along with the National Gallery of Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The program will donate 2,500 works to 50 institutions across 50 states and will be accompanied by a book with the same name. In 2008, an award-winning documentary about their story, Herb and Dorothy, was released.