Safra Foundation gives $1m to Washington’s National Gallery of Art to support art scholars

The money secures a permanent professorship at the museum’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts


While the Trump administration has proposed eliminating federal funding for the arts and culture, a private charitable foundation continues its work to support arts research and scholarship. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, has received a $1m gift from the Edmond J. Safra Foundation to fund a professor post at the museum’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA).

The gift sustains the Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professorship, which was established in 2002. Since then, 15 historians including Nancy Troy, Marc Fumaroli and Hans Belting have held the position, which affords scholars time and space to collaborate with museum staff on research, and present seminars or lectures to graduate students and young curators. With matching funds that have been secured, the grant makes the professorship a permanent position at the centre.

“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,” Elizabeth Cropper, the dean of the centre, said in a statement.

The foundation is named for the banker and philanthropist Edmond Safra, who died in 1999. His wife, Lily Safra, is the chair of the foundation, which supports various educational, medical, religious and humanitarian causes. It has helped fund projects at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. “I know how proud my husband Edmond would be that his name will always be linked with truly exceptional scholarship,” Lily Safra said in a statement.

Along with scholarship positions, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts has a publishing programme and organises the National Gallery of Art’s annual A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts.