Meet Our Honorees, Keynote Address, and Conversation


Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu

Co-Founders of Magazzino Italian Art and Olnick Spanu

From New York and Sardinia, Italy, respectively, Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu, residents of New York, have developed an extensive collection of Postwar and Contemporary Italian Art in the United States. Olnick and Spanu began their collection by acquiring works by Modern Art masters and American Pop artists, an art movement contemporary but juxtaposed to Arte Povera. Their admiration of Italian Art and culture and strong interest in exploring conceptual artistic movements of a similar period but from a different perspective, took them on a journey that eventually led them to developing one of the largest collections of Postwar Italian Art and 20th century Murano Glass in the U.S.

Longtime supporters of the arts, Olnick and Spanu have continued to further their commitment to the arts through the Olnick Spanu Art Program, a one-year artist residency program that invites contemporary Italian artists to create site-specific installations on the couple’s property in Garrison, N.Y. Through this program, they have premiered to American audiences work by ten emerging to mid-career Italian artists: Giorgio Vigna, Massimo Bartolini, Mario Airò, Domenico Bianchi, Remo Salvadori, Stefano Arienti, Bruna Esposito, Marco Bagnoli, Francesco Arena and Paolo Canevari.

Always fascinated with architecture, Nancy and Giorgio commissioned Spanish architect Alberto Campo Baeza in 2003 to create The Olnick Spanu House in Garrison, New York. Reflective of both the couple and their love of art, the glass house stands as Baeza’s first project in the U.S. The house reflects a balance between modernism and classicism in dialogue with the scenery and light of the Hudson Valley.

Nancy and Giorgio also commissioned New York based architect Miguel Quismondo in 2015 to construct a 20,000 square-foot building to host Magazzino Italian Art. The building draws architectural components from an existing structure, repurposed within a larger design that doubled the square footage of the former space by completing the original L-shape into a rectangle, leaving a courtyard in the center, and creating a dialogue between the existing and the new addition. The state-of-the-art facility features more than 18,000 square feet of exhibition space as well as a library and office spaces. Miguel Quismondo is the recipient of the 2018 AIA New York Design Award in architecture for Magazzino Italian Art.

Expressing their commitment to philanthropy, Olnick and Spanu are supporters of numerous organizations including AJC-American Jewish Committee, Boscobel, Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò at NYU, Castello di Rivoli Contemporary Art, Desmond-Fish Library, Dia Art Foundation, Dieu Donné, Fondazione Mario Merz, Garrison Art Center, Garrison Institute, Garrison Landing Association, Longhouse Reserve, MAXXI Museum, Putnam History Museum, Scenic Hudson, Inc., RxArt, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Storm King Art Center, The Drawing Center, The Jewish Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Arts, The Museum of Arts and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, The Russel Wright “Manitoga” Design Center and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Cav. Giorgio Spanu is Chairman of the Advisory Board of Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò at NYU, and on June 4th, 2018 Cav. Spanu was bestowed the Insignia of Knight of the Italian Republic.


Keynote Speaker

Emily Braun, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor, Hunter College and The Graduate Center, CUNY

Professor Emily Braun is Distinguished Professor at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her research interests are interdisciplinary and include the interaction between political ideologies and visual representation; the construction of gender and otherness in art criticism; the history of exhibitions and collecting; Cubism and popular culture; and theories of viewer reception. She also writes on European art since 1945. Since 1987 Braun has curated the Leonard A. Lauder Collection of Cubist Art. She is the author of Mario Sironi and Italian Modernism: Art and Politics under Fascism (2000), hailed by historians and art historians as “landmark,” a “work that is as indispensable for cultural historians of twentieth century Europe as it is for historians of the visual arts” (The Journal of Modern History, 2002). Most recently Braun co-curated Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection (2014) for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and co-edited the catalogue, which won First Place from the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC), as well as the Henry Allen Moe Prize, New York Historical Association, for Catalogue of Distinction in the Arts. In 2016 she curated and authored Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: it was honored with the 2016 Dedalus Foundation Exhibition Catalogue Award.  Her other exhibitions include Gardens and Ghettos: The Art of Jewish Life in Italy (co-curator, 1989, The Jewish Museum, New York); and De Chirico and America (1996, Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Gallery, Hunter College) which was organized with her graduate students at Hunter College.


In Conversation 

Adam D. Weinberg

Alice Pratt Brown Director, Whitney Museum of American Art

Adam D. Weinberg has served as the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art since 2003. During his tenure, the Whitney has presented dozens of critically-acclaimed exhibitions on emerging, mid-career and senior artists, created award-winning educational programs, experienced exponential growth of its permanent collection and dramatically expanded its performance program. Under his leadership, the Museum opened its 220,000-square-foot building designed by Renzo Piano in New York’s Meatpacking District in 2015 and in 2021, realized Day’s End, a permanent, public sculpture by artist David Hammons on the Hudson River waterfront. Weinberg has curated exhibitions on a of range themes and 20th-century artists including Frank Stella: A Retrospective presented at the Whitney in 2015. Weinberg has authored numerous catalogues and essays on artists, lectured widely, and been a grant panelist for federal, state, city, and private foundations as well as international governmental and private organizations.




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