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Release date: March 17, 2017

$1 Million Received by the National Gallery of Art from the Edmond J. Safra Foundation to Endow the Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professorship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

Edmond J. Safra. Photo credit: Edmond J. Safra Foundation

Edmond J. Safra. Photo credit: Edmond J. Safra Foundation

Washington, DC—The National Gallery of Art announced today a $1 million grant from the Edmond J. Safra Foundation to support the Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professorship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). This generous gift coincides with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's endowment challenge grant to the National Gallery of Art on the occasion of the Gallery's 75th anniversary. Matching funds will permit the professorship to be fully endowed.

"We are thrilled to know that this important scholarly program, named for one of the Gallery's closest friends, will now be sustained in perpetuity," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. "The Gallery extends its deep gratitude to Lily Safra and the Edmond J. Safra Foundation for this remarkable commitment."

"I am thrilled that the Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professorship has become a permanent part of the National Gallery and CASVA, and I wish all of the future Professors success in their work," said Mrs. Lily Safra, Chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation. "I know how proud my husband Edmond would be that his name will always be linked with truly exceptional scholarship."

Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professorship

The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professorship was created in 2002 to bring to the National Gallery of Art and CASVA a colleague of international reputation for a period of several months to collaborate in research efforts and forge relationships across the Gallery. This distinguished professorship honors Edmond J. Safra and his generous patronage of the arts and extraordinary contributions to our nation's cultural and intellectual life.

"Our Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professors have contributed immeasurably to the work of the Center and the wider scholarly, curatorial, and scientific community in the visual arts. It is a great honor for all of us to have Edmond Safra's name associated with a program that will continue to make such a lasting impact at the Gallery and on the arts worldwide," said Elizabeth Cropper, dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts.
Each year the National Gallery of Art invites a scholar of international reputation working in an area in which the Gallery has a significant interest to be part of the community at CASVA in order to inspire a younger generation of scholars, curators, and conservation scientists through a variety of meetings, both formal and informal. Fifteen scholars have held the post since 2002. To learn more about the professorship and profiles of the professors in residence from 2003 to 2014, see the publication The Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professorship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art: Reflections on the First Twelve Years.

About The Edmond J. Safra Foundation

Edmond J. Safra, one of the 20th century's most accomplished bankers and a devoted philanthropist, established a major philanthropic foundation to ensure that needy individuals and organizations would continue to receive his assistance and encouragement for many years to come.

Following his death in 1999 and now under the chairmanship of his wife, Lily, the Edmond J. Safra Foundation draws continuing inspiration from its founder's life and values. Under Mrs. Safra's leadership, the foundation has assisted hundreds of organizations in more than 40 countries around the world, and its work encompasses four areas: education; science and medicine; religion; and humanitarian assistance, culture, and social welfare.

The foundation has assisted numerous arts institutions, providing scholarships for students and helping organizations reach broader and more diverse audiences. Recipients of support have included institutions such as the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, New York's Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Grand Théâtre de Genève. Mrs. Lily Safra also made major donations to the Château de Versailles and to the Musée du Louvre, where the "Salle Edmond et Lily Safra" honors the works which she and her husband donated. Both donations are described in this release: To learn more about all of the donations, please visit

In 1999, the Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Art awarded Edmond and Lily Safra the Medal for Distinguished Service to Education in Art, which recognizes those who have demonstrated leadership in raising public appreciation of art and culture throughout the nation. In 2002, the Edmond J. Safra Foundation established the Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professorship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts to bring to the Gallery an internationally renowned scholar to engage in the study and interpretation of works of art in the collection or of related works.

About the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA)

CASVA, founded in 1979 and located in the National Gallery's East Building, is a research institute that fosters study of the production, use, and cultural meaning of art, artifacts, architecture, urbanism, photography, and film worldwide from prehistoric times to the present. CASVA's programs include fellowships, meetings, research, and publications. These are privately funded through endowments and grants to the National Gallery of Art. During the 2015‒2016 academic year, CASVA published The Civil War in Art and Memory and organized the sixty-fifth A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, which it also produced as online audio and video presentations. Members for the 2016–2017 academic year include approximately 40 fellows from around the globe.

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