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Paul Holdengräber Appointed as Director of The New
York Public Library's Public Program Series
York, NY, June 15, 2004 -- Paul Holdengräber, founder and director
of the Institute for Art and Cultures at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
(LACMA), has been appointed Director of the Public Education Program at The
New York Public Library's (NYPL) Humanities and Social Sciences Library, President
Paul LeClerc announced today. His appointment, the result of a nationwide search,
is effective as of today.
Mr. Holdengräber will take charge of the Library's prominent public program
series, which offers some 60 evening programs a year to the general public on
a dazzling array of subjects (past subjects have ranged from the politics of
literary censorship to fresh takes on the seven deadly sins). Mr. Holdengräber
will develop and oversee the programs under the direction of Heike Kordish,
Director of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library. The Library has a 20-year
tradition of celebrating the diversity and depth of its outstanding collections
through lectures, interviews, and discussions that are open to the public at
a modest fee. These programs are known nationwide for providing a forum in which
audiences can engage with some of the world's most influential public figures,
including writers, historians, artists, and politicians. Since the program's
inception, participating speakers have included Chinua Achebe, Margaret Atwood,
J.M. Coetzee, Joan Didion, Jane Jacobs, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, Patrick
O'Brian, José Saramago, Frank Stella, Tom Stoppard, and Wendy Wasserstein.
"Paul Holdengräber is exactly the right person to bring prominent and varied
voices from the current literary and social scene to our audiences," said Dr.
LeClerc. "He brings with him a terrific amount of energy, creativity, scholarship,
and whimsy, and I know he will design innovative new lectures for our renowned
Public Education Program."
"It is a privilege to join The New York Public Library," said Mr. Holdengräber.
"I would be hard-pressed to think of any better or more beloved place for public
programs than NYPL, and I very much look forward to thinking up programs that
will stimulate intellectual fervor, inspire discussion and dissent, and create
forums to bring books and people together. For years I have been bringing talent
from the east coast to the west coast; it is fitting now for me to bring some
of the entrepreneurial spirit of the west to the east."
Paul Holdengräber, whom the Los Angeles Times describes as a "repository
of ideas and passion," arrived at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1997;
a year later, he founded the Institute for Art and Cultures with the idea to
challenge the perception that museums are nothing more than mausoleums for Old
Masters. Under Mr. Holdengräber's direction, the Institute became an active
and lively forum for debate with its ambitious lecture series, in which painters,
poets, performers, writers, and thinkers address critical cultural issues through
lively talks, discussions, and performances. Known for encouraging his guest
speakers to step outside their areas of specialization and into wider-reaching
discussions ("Holdengräber's got more tricks up his sleeve than Scheherazade,"
noted Flaunt magazine in 2001), he lined up Los Angeles painter R.B.
Kitaj to speak about Vincent Van Gogh; Jamaica Kincaid to talk about Thomas
Jefferson and his slave and friend Jupiter; and actor and filmmaker Tim Robbins
to interview Studs Terkel. Other participants have included David Hockney, Susan
Sontag, and Vishakha Desai.
Mr. Holdengräber holds a Bachelor's Degree from the Université Catholique
de Louvain in Belgium and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University.
He was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the Getty Research Institute from
1995 to 1996, before joining LACMA the following year. He has taught at Princeton
University, Williams College, the University of Miami, and Claremont Graduate
University. He has been a Fellow at the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities
(University of Southern California) and served as a Board Member at the Santa
Monica Museum of Art from 2000 to 2004. Fluent in four languages, Mr. Holdengräber
has written essays and articles for journals in France, Germany, Spain, and
the United States. Last year, the French government awarded him the Chevalier
des Arts et des Lettres.
About the Public Education Program Series at the Humanities and Social Sciences
Since 1983, the public programs offered at The New York Public Library's Humanities
and Social Sciences Library have become a mainstay of New York's cultural life.
Through approximately 60 interviews, lectures, panel discussions, and literary
readings a year, the department highlights and interprets the mission, collections,
and exhibitions of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, and the study
of literature, art, and history, in particular. The lectures and conversations
offered in the Library's Celeste Bartos Forum and South Court Auditorium (at
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street) frequently draw inspiration from the Library's
collections and exhibitions, and the department has also produced events in
partnership with sister cultural institutions such as The Jewish Museum and
the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, as well as with publications such
as The New York Times and The New York Review of Books. The department
also organizes numerous endowed lecture series, and works in concert with publishers
that include Oxford University Press and Harvard University Press to present
lectures that will later be made into books. More recently, the public program
series has begun to collaborate with the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center
for Scholars and Writers, which presents several additional lectures by past
and present Cullman Fellows each season.