McKim Gala: Celebrating 10 Years of Italian Fellows

July 1, 2014
Chris Celenza, Fabio Salini, Mercedes T. Bass, Gianluca Racana, Valentina Moncada di Paternò, Bernardo Bertolucci, Mary Margaret Jones, Mark Robbins
Academy Director Chris Celenza and President Mark Robbins with Italian Affiliated Fellows
Nicoletta Romanoff, Giorgio Pasotti
Bernardo Bertolucci and Trustee Walter Hood, FAAR97
US Ambassador John Phillips and wife, Linda Douglass
Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage, Dario Franceschini with guests
Billie Tsien, RAAR’00, and Giuseppe Lignano
Ronald Beck, David Poma, Cynthia L. Beck (Trustee), Calvin Tsao, RAAR’10 (Trustee)
Kim Bowes (Academy Director-elect) and Christopher Celenza (Academy Director)
Marina Cicogna, Hugo Windisch Graetz, Mercedes T. Bass (Trustee), Mark Robbins (President), Sophie von Habsburg
Pepi Marchetti Franchi, Giovanna Melandri
Principessa Alessandra Borghese, Valentina Moncada di Paternò (Trustee), Ines Torlonia
Mary Margaret Jones (Chair, Board of Trustees), Charles Minott, FAAR’64, and guest
Verdella Caracciolo de Benedictis (Trustee), and Ken Gaulin
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The American Academy in Rome celebrated its 10th annual McKim Gala last month on a picture-perfect spring evening. Over 350 guests gathered at Villa Aurelia in Rome to support the Academy’s efforts to provide fellowships for Italian artists and scholars.  The Academy also honored architect Zaha Hadid with the 2014 McKim Medal for her contributions to design.

The gala evening, chaired by Trustee and Rome-based art curator, Valentina Moncada di Paternò, began with cocktails and passed hors d'oeuvres in the Lemon Garden.   A receiving line to greet guests was led by Mary Margaret Jones, FAAR’98, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mark Robbins, FAAR’97, President, Academy Director Christopher Celenza, FAAR’94, and event Chair Moncada di Paternò.

Ms. Jones opened the dinner program by welcoming guests  -- including United States Ambassador to Italy, John Phillips and his wife Linda Douglass, Dario Franceschini, Minister of Culture and Tourism, film director and McKim Medal Laureate Bernardo Bertolucci, among other dignitaries.  Academy Fellows, Residents and Trustees figured prominently at the celebration including Tod Williams, FAAR’83, Cary Davis, Nancy Novogrod, Mercedes T. Bass, Calvin Tsao, RAAR'10, Billie Tsien, RAAR’00, Lyle Ashton Harris, FAAR’01, and a host of Academy supporters.

Academy Director Christopher Celenza addressed the audience in Italian, asking the audience to reflect on this celebration of the Academy that, for over 120 years, has nurtured American and Italian artists and scholars, providing a meeting point for the intersection and cross-fertilization of ideas and creativity.  Mr. Celenza then introduced the Affiliated Italian Fellows and asked them to stand while the audience cheered. 

New Academy President Mark Robbins took to the stage to thank contributors and supporters for their continued support that evening and over the years. He also discussed the evening’s McKim Medal honoree, Zaha Hadid, and reflected on how over a remarkably vivid career, she has produced an intensely cinematic and sinuous architecture that spoke to the future.  He noted the significance of this year being the 100th anniversary of the Academy’s McKim, Mead & White building and remarked on the Academy’s mission and its everlasting impact on members.  

Gala chair Valentina Moncada di Paternò thanked many of the individuals and organizations instrumental in supporting the 2014 McKim Gala.  She received a standing ovation and cheers when she revealed the evening exceeded financial expectations, with proceeds benefiting the Academy’s scholarship fund for Italian Affiliated Fellowships.  Ms. Moncada di Paternò also noted she was stepping down as gala chair, and would be handing over those duties to Ginevra Elkann.

After dinner, guests further enjoyed the beautiful evening with dessert and after-dinner cordials on the Villa Aurelia’s lemon garden and terrace.

The McKim Medal

The McKim Medal was established by the American Academy in Rome in 2005 as an annual prize that honors an individual whose work – most particularly in Italy and the United States – has contributed significantly to the arts and humanities. Named for noted architect Charles Follen McKim (1847-1909), who established the Academy in 1894, the McKim medal was designed by sculptor Cy Twombly. This year’s special 10-year commemorative medal was crafted by Roman jeweler Fabio Salini.  Previous McKim Medal laureates include Renzo Piano, Cy Twombly, Umberto Eco, Franco Zeffirelli, Ennio Morricone, Miuccia Prada, Luigi Ontani, Riccardo Muti, and Bernardo Bertolucci.