Celebrating Cultural Impact: Prestigious Prizes Recognize Foreign-Born Curators for Transformative Contributions to Museum Culture and Art History
The Vilcek Foundation, a prominent organization dedicated to celebrating immigrant contributions to the United States, has introduced a prestigious new accolade in the field of art history: The Marica Vilcek Prize in Art History. The inaugural presentation of this award features three outstanding foreign-born art history and museum professionals, each receiving a substantial $100,000 prize. The recognition is bestowed upon individuals whose work has left a lasting impact on museum culture and curatorial practices in the United States, as well as in their respective areas of expertise.
Marica Vilcek, an esteemed American art historian and philanthropist, co-founder, vice-chair, and secretary of the Vilcek Foundation, has played an influential role in both Czechoslovakia and the United States. Her extensive involvement with institutions like The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York University Institute of Fine Arts, coupled with her contributions to organizations such as the New York Youth Symphony and the Foundation for a Civil Society, have left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape.
The 2024 Marica Vilcek Prizes in Art History honor three exemplary curators at The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Monika Bincsik, Wolfram Koeppe, and Pierre Terjanian.
Monika Bincsik: Bincsik, born in Hungary, receives the Marica Vilcek Prize for her remarkable curatorial approach to Japanese decorative arts and textiles. Her work highlights the intricate interplay between the Japanese and international art market, trade, and socio-political circumstances spanning five centuries. As the Diane and Arthur Abbey Curator for Japanese Decorative Arts at The Met, Bincsik has curated groundbreaking exhibitions introducing the history of Japanese lacquer, ceramics, and bamboo.
Wolfram Koeppe: Born in Germany, Koeppe is awarded the Marica Vilcek Prize for his significant contributions to the study and curation of European decorative arts objects. As the Marina Kellen French Senior Curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at The Met, he has played a vital role in developing exhibitions and permanent galleries that engage and inspire audiences of all ages.
Pierre Terjanian: Terjanian, hailing from France, receives the Marica Vilcek Prize for his efforts to foster community, dialogue, and understanding through leadership at The Met, along with his thoughtful scholarship on objects of arms and armor. Formerly the Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Curator in Charge in the Department of Arms and Armor at The Met, Terjanian currently serves as Chief of Curatorial Affairs and Conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Marica Vilcek expressed her admiration for the winners, stating, “Art historians and curators are unsung heroes; their work has broad implications for our understanding of social and cultural values across the globe.” Vilcek emphasized the profound impact of these curators on the broader context of the roles and meanings that art objects hold in their respective times and places of creation.
Rick Kinsel, President of the Vilcek Foundation, emphasized that these prizes aim to honor Marica’s enduring commitment to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, her professional home from 1965 through 1996, and her steadfast support for art historians, anthropologists, and curators. Max Hollein, The Met’s Marina Kellen French Director and CEO, expressed gratitude for the Vilcek Foundation’s support, applauding the curators for their innovative scholarship.
The Marica Vilcek Prize in Art History aligns seamlessly with the Vilcek Foundation’s mission to recognize and celebrate immigrant professionals whose work has significantly impacted culture and society, fostering a deeper appreciation for the arts. Established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from Czechoslovakia, the foundation has awarded over $7 million in prizes to foreign-born individuals and provided over $6 million in grants to support various organizations. To learn more about the Vilcek Foundation and its mission, please visit vilcek.org.