|Years active||1970s - Present|
|Known for||Historic Preservation, Political Activism|
Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel is an American historian and author. Her fields are art, architecture, historic preservation, and public policy in the U.S. She is the author of 23 books, numerous articles and essays, and recipient of many honors and awards. A former White House Assistant, the first Director of Cultural Affairs in New York City, and the longest serving New York City Landmarks Preservation Commissioner.
In 1996, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, where she served as the first woman Vice Chair in its more than 100-year history; she also serves on the American Battle Monuments Commission; New York State Council on the Arts (Chair); the Trust for the National Mall. She was a member of the NYC Cultural Affairs Commission, the NYC Public Design Commission (formerly the NYC Art Commission), and Friends of the High Line, where she was a founding director for nine years.
Diamonstein-Spielvogel has been the chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center since 1995, where she created the historic district street name signs program and the Cultural Medallion program, that documents notable occurrences, distinguished individuals, and other important aspects of New York City's cultural, economic, political, and social history. She is the founder and Chair of the NYC Landmarks50 Alliance, a consortium of more than 185 organizations formed to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the NYC landmarks law. Over 150 of Diamonstein-Spielvogel's television interviews with notable artists, architects, and cultural figures, have been digitized.
Diamonstein-Spielvogel was a White House Assistant, and helped create the White House Fellows and the Presidential Scholars Program. She was the first Director of Cultural Affairs in New York City, and was the longest serving Landmarks Commissioner, serving under four New York City Mayors. She has also served as a Member of the NYC Cultural Affairs Commission, where she was Chair/Founder of the Mayor's Awards of Arts and Culture, and was a Commissioner on the NYC Art Commission (now the Public Design Commission). She is currently the Chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center and the NYC Landmarks50 Alliance, and in April, 2016, was appointed the Chair of the N.Y. State Council on the Arts. In September 2013, she was elected a Democratic National Committeewoman from New York State for a four-year term.
Diamonstein-Spielvogel was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the Board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where she served as Chair of the subcommittee that commissioned all of the original art created for the museum. In 1992, she was appointed to the United States Commission of Fine Arts by President Bill Clinton, and was the first woman Vice Chair of the CFA. Since 1995, Diamonstein-Spielvogel has been the Chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center (HLPC), creating a Cultural Medallion program documenting notable occurrences, distinguished individuals and other important aspects of New York City’s cultural, economic, political and social history. Among other programs, the HLPC initiated, created, designed and financed all of the terra cotta street signs in each of New York City's Historic Districts. In 2012, she became the Chair of NYC Landmarks50, a group collaborating to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law (see below). She was a founding board member of the High Line, a disused elevated rail line, which has been transformed into a mile-long public park.
President Barack Obama named her a Commissioner of the American Battle Monuments Commission, which has responsibilities related to the design, construction, and maintenance of military memorials throughout the world. In 2010, Diamonstein-Spielvogel was appointed a director of the Trust for the National Mall in Washington D.C.. In July 2013, she was named to lead the American delegation in Busan, Korea and was the keynote speaker at the ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of the armistice of the Korean War, attended by leaders and veterans of 21 participant nations.
Diamonstein-Spielvogel served as an interviewer/producer for seven television series about the arts, architecture, design, crafts, and public policy for the Arts & Entertainment Network, and other programs for national networks including CBS and NBC. Nearly two hundred of her television interviews are now available on iTunes U and YouTube, digitized by the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Video Archive at Duke University. Diamonstein-Spielvogel has also been a contributing author to publications including The New York Times, Vogue, Ladies Home Journal, Harper's Bazaar, the Partisan Review, Art News, and many others.
In 2012, she was named the Chair of NYC Landmarks50 Alliance, a voluntary group of over 150 member organizations, collaborating to commemorate the 50th anniversary (April 19, 2015) of the NYC landmarks law. The Alliance is a diverse and growing consortium of organizations. With membership ranging from the Apollo Theater to the Asia Society, the Bowne House to the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the New York Landmarks Conservancy to the New York Road Runners, Pratt Institute to PRISA, and the Alice Austen House to Casita Maria, the Alliance represents tens of thousands of New Yorkers. The celebration was initiated in April 2013 at the Queens Museum (the largest of the 5 boroughs, and the most diverse county in the U.S.); tours, exhibits, lectures, panels, symposiums, poetry readings, races, and much more will commemorate the 50th Anniversary.
In May 2015, she was appointed to the Advisory Board of the Gracie Mansion Conservancy by Mayor Bill DeBlasio. In June 2015, she was named to the Advisory Committee of the National Eisenhower Memorial; the Memorial will be designed by architect Frank Gehry, and built adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Honors and awards
Diamonstein-Spielvogel has been the recipient of many honors and awards including a chair in documentary film making at Duke University. She received her doctorate with high honors from New York University, and is also the recipient of three honorary doctorates from: the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia and Pratt Institute, in New York City. She was also elected an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, and is a frequent contributor to numerous magazines and newspapers. Diamonstein-Spielvogel received the Historic Districts Council's Landmarks Lion award in 2011 and the John Jay Medal for Service for lifetime contribution to the arts, architecture, and public policy from the Jay Heritage Center in 2012.
She has shared her combined experience and scholarship on art, architecture, photography, crafts, design, and public policy through the authorship of twenty-three books and numerous articles and essays. This included her work as a fellow of the Architectural league, Collaborations: Artists and Architects, subsequently the subject of an important museum exhibit, which resuscitated this significant and long moribund relationship. This also included Open Secrets (1972), Inside New York's Art World: Conversations with Barbaralee Diamonstein (1979), a book of interviews with distinguished artists, museum directors, curators, collectors and dealers. Buildings Reborn, Interior Design (1982); Handmade in America (1983), American Architecture Now (1985); Fashion: The Inside Story (1988); Landmarks: Eighteen Wonders of the New York World (1992); Inside the Art World (1994); Singular Voices (1997). Her most recent book, The Landmarks of New York: An Illustrated Record of the City’s Historic Buildings, was recently reissued in its fifth edition. She is also the author of dozens of magazine and newspaper articles, which have appeared in The New York Times, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Ladies' Home Journal, and many other publications.
The Landmarks of New York
Her book The Landmarks of New York contains detailed descriptions and photographs of 1,347 individual landmarks and 113 historic districts that have been accorded landmark status by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Diamonstein-Spielvogel is the curator of several international traveling exhibition, including one based on "The Landmarks of New York," which was circulated to 82 countries on 5 continents, in an unprecedented tour sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, traveled to sixteen venues in New York State, and is now traveling within New York City.
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- Administrator. "Whoops! - Partners for Livable Communities". www.livable.org. Retrieved April 12, 2018.