PHILADELPHIA, 9/11/1998…Last night, during the gala opening of the exhibition Delacroix: The Late Work, Philadelphia Museum of Art Director and Chief Executive Officer Anne d'Harnoncourt received the "Medaille des Arts et Lettres" (Order of Arts and Letters). His Excellency the Ambassador of France, François Bujon de l'Estang, presented the award, stating "The Director of this prestigious Museum is a very special friend of French modern art."
The French Order of Arts and Letters, which is awarded twice each year, was established in 1957 as a complement to the Legion of Honor. Its recipients are drawn from among the most accomplished and active contributors to all fields of artistic endeavor. While presenting the award, Ambassador de Bujon l'Estang praised the efforts of Ms. d'Harnoncourt and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in forming partnerships with French museums to organize major exhibitions that shed new light on French artists. Recently, these projects have included retrospective overviews of the careers of sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1995) and the painter Paul Cézanne (1996), and the current exhibition Delacroix: The Late Work (on view through January 3, 1998), which features some 110 works by the great French Romantic master.
Anne d'Harnoncourt became the Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1982, following ten years tenure as the Museum's Curator of 20th-Century Art. A graduate of Radcliffe College and the Courtauld Institute of Art at London University, d'Harnoncourt is respected internationally as both an art historian and museum leader. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, d'Harnoncourt has organized such exhibitions as a 1973 retrospective exhibition of the work of the vastly influential 20th-century French artist Marcel Duchamp, and Futurism and the International Avant-Garde in 1980. She has also served as a guiding force behind the Museum's ambitious, three-part reinstallation of its European collections, which was completed in 1995. Upon the retirement of Robert Montgomery Scott in 1996, following his distinguished tenure as President, the Museum's Board of Trustees voted to add the designation of Chief Executive Officer to Ms. d'Harnoncourt's title.
Upon receiving the award, Ms. d'Harnoncourt said, "I am delighted, on behalf of my colleagues at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to accept this wonderful honor. This Museum's long history of cultural collaboration with French museums has been led by our remarkable team of curators, and we are all thrilled that our mutual enthusiasm for French art and culture has won such a wide audience in Philadelphia and the United States."