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backstory50: The Yaseen Lectures

As we prepare to host the first of the Museum’s 50th anniversary celebratory social events this weekend, I’ve been reflecting about the incredible legacies that were established by some of our founding members.

Helen and Leonard Yaseen were among the inaugural members of the Board of the Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art. Similar to Roy R. Neuberger, the Yaseens were art collectors who were invested in modern and contemporary art scholarship. During the third meeting of the Friends, they announced that they would endow a new lecture series at the Neuberger; the Yaseen Lectures on the Fine Arts series began in October 1974 just a few months after the opening of the Museum. They established a second lecture series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1979.

Over the years, various speakers from many disciplines have given lectures, including prominent authors, artists, scientists, poets, composers, performance artists, activists, historians, critics, and scholars. The themes discussed have been as distinctive as the speakers represented and are always pertinent to the moment. Among many topics, some highlights include the 1988 series On Time, featuring the artist John Cage, the physicist Murray Gell-Mann, and the novelist Mario Vargas Llosa. In 1976, Robert Irwin, Barbara Rose, George Segal, Christo, and Jan Van der Marck presented On Sculpture. In 1990, artist Eric Fischl, author Maya Angelou, and author Susan Sontag spoke On Culture Watching. In 1994, Gordon Parks, pictured here, presented On Film and Photography with Zev Kedem. See the complete list of lectures.

The legacy of the Yaseens’s gift and its impact on our community is about to grow even stronger. The New York Community Trust, which continues to support the lecture series, recently informed us of a generous financial gift to the fund from the Yaseen family in honor of our anniversary.

So, today’s 50th anniversary thank-you goes to Roger Yaseen and his family for stewarding his parents’ legacy. Our thanks also go to The New York Community Trust for being such good partners to the Neuberger and for stewarding the Yaseen Lectures on the Fine Arts Fund in the New York Community Trust.

We are in the process of planning the 2024 lecture for the fall. Watch for more details in the near future.

Tracy Fitzpatrick
Director, Neuberger Museum of Art

Orange square with a white border and large numbers 50 with small letters neu overlapping the top of the 5 and the word Years beneath

Watch for a new backstory every Wednesday and follow us on social media as we share stories about the Museum’s history, our evolution to the present day, and look ahead to our exciting future. Stay up-to-date with the latest news and “NEU 50 Years” updates on our anniversary webpage.