Remembering Dorothy Cullman (1918-2009), longtime Trustee and magnificent supporter of the American Academy in Rome

cullmancloseTrustees Chuck Close and Dorothy Cullman at the April 2001 AAR Benefit (Cipriani 42nd St.)

The Trustees, Fellows and staff of the American Academy in Rome mourn the loss of our dear longtime Trustee, Dorothy Cullman. She died peacefully on April 6 at home due to complications from a long illness.

Dorothy Cullman served as an extraordinarily engaged member of the Academy’s Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2004, and after that as a Trustee Emerita.

The Academy counts Dorothy and her husband Lewis B. Cullman among its most generous supporters. The couple endowed Rome Prize fellowships in both the arts (Writing) and the humanities (a pre-doctoral fellowship in Classical Studies). In this, they greatly advanced the AAR’s campaign to endow all of the Rome Prizes and secure their future in good times and bad. A list of winners of these two Prizes follows below.

“Dorothy had an artist’s eye and a scholar’s curiosity,” said the American Academy in Rome this past week in a memorial statement. “But most of all, she was fun. We have lost an irreplaceable friend. Our heartfelt sympathies to Lewis.”

You can read Dennis Hevesi’s 8 April New York Times obituary of Dorothy Cullman here. He notes that Mrs. Cullman was the patron of a “host of arts, science and educational institutions in New York” and further afield, among them The Museum of Modern Art, the American Museum of Natural History, The New York Public Library, The New York Botanical Garden, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medical Center, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Yale University, Purdue University, Human Rights Watch and Planned Parenthood of New York City.

“Mrs. Cullman in particular was a supporter of WNET, the New York public television station,” notes Hevesi. “In 1981 she was a producer of three installments of the PBS series ”Great Performances” devoted to the life and work of Edith Wharton.”

But that long and impressively wide-ranging list gives just a glimpse of Dorothy Cullman’s many artistic and intellectual interests. One might add her support and that of her husband Lewis for Chess-in-the Schools, Enterprise Community Partners, The Library of America, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Film Society of Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Municipal Art Society of New York, The Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, Parrish Art Museum in Southampton NY, The Public Theatre, Rockefeller University and other institutions—including, of course, the American Academy in Rome.

As one tribute this week succinctly put it, Dorothy Cullman was “one of New York’s greatest patrons of the visual and performing arts, poetry, science and architecture”.

As an indication of Dorothy Cullman’s reach and impact, one notes that on the very day of her death, hundreds of news outlets worldwide were reporting how funding from the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Foundation had made possible a promising breakthrough in the prevention of stomach cancer.

Besides Mr. Cullman, she is survived by two sons from her first marriage, Bill and Frederick Benenson, and four grandchildren. A memorial service is being planned for May.

Winners of the John Guare Writer’s Fund Rome Prize, a gift of Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman
Brad Kessler [current Fellow]
Junot Diaz FAAR’08
Dave King FAAR’07
Aaron Hamburger FAAR’06
Lisa B. Williams FAAR’05
Sarah Arvio FAAR’04
Jennifer S. Clarvoe FAAR’03
Vincent Katz FAAR’02

Winners of the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize in Ancient Studies
Susan A. Curry [current Fellow]
Eleanor M. Rust FAAR’08
Kevin R. Uhalde FAAR’07
Kimberly D. Bowes FAAR’06
Jennifer L. Heuser FAAR’05
Catherine Chin FAAR’04
Perry S. Bell FAAR’03
Adam Rabinowitz FAAR’02
Carlos F. Norena FAAR’01
Darius A. Arya FAAR’00

In addition, winners of Rome Prize Fellowships for 09/10 in each of these two categories will be announced in New York the evening of 16 April.

dcullmanLewis B. and Dorothy Cullman


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