'Every Cultural Institution Which Isn’t Perceived as 100% ‘pro-Israel’ Is Taking a Serious Risk'

(May 31, 2020 / Haaretz) At a time that now seems like an entirely different era – during the second week of February – Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett was informed that she was one of the six laureates of Israel's prestigious Dan David Prize this year. She and her husband, New Zealand artist Max Gimblett, were in the middle of moving out of their loft in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where they had lived and worked for 44 years.


They had just begun to open the first of the hundreds of cartons of books belonging to their person library. “We must have around 15,000 books,” she said, smiling. As Kirshenblatt-Gimblett was unpacking, she received the happy news that she had received the $500,000 award and that the Tel Aviv awards ceremony would be held on May 17.

The prize the renowned museum professional and professor emerita at New York University has been awarded is named after the late Israeli philanthropist Dan David, and is administered by Tel Aviv University. The Dan David Foundation annually awards $1 million prizes in three categories – past, present and future – for scientific, technological and cultural accomplishments. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, a scholar of performance studies and Jewish studies, is sharing the prize in the "past" category – for outstanding contribution to cultural preservation and revival – with Lonnie G. Bunch III, the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian.