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Queen Sofía Spanish Institute

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The Queen Sofía Spanish Institute is an organization in New York City founded to promote the Spanish language and the culture of Spain. Its office is located at 575 Madison Avenue, New York City following the sale of the 684 Park Avenue location in 2016.

Queen Sofia Spanish Institute
Spanish Institute NYC 002.JPG
FoundedJune 9th, 1954
TypeCultural institution
  • Offices at 575 Madison Avenue New York, NY10022
ProductSpanish cultural
Key people
David Askren(President and CEO), Fernando Aleu(Chairman Emeritus), Patrice Degnan Erquicia(Executive Director) and Peggy Holder Jones (Administrative and Accounting Director)



The Spanish Institute was founded in 1954. From this time, the Institute served as a hub for American-Spanish cultural affairs.

Since the sale of the building, the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute is reorganizing its activities with other Spanish and Latin Centric organizations by cosponsoring of lectures, symposiums and meetings to discuss economic, political and social issues. The institute was named in honor of Queen Sofía of Spain, the Patroness of this non for profit corporation.

The president and CEO is David Askren and the Executive Director since September, 2017 is Patrice Degnan Erquicia.


Queen Sofía Spanish Institute has maintained a strong commitment to the fine arts by exhibiting major masters and newly emerging artists from Spain, Latin America and Europe. Exhibitions on themes related to Spanish art and the Spanish tradition in the Americas are offered throughout the year at the Institute's two galleries. The Institute most recent cultural endeavor was an exhibition entitled Balenciaga:Spanish Master. This was the first exhibition to consider the impact of Spain’s culture, history and art on one of its greatest twentieth century sons, the legendary designer Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895–1972). Conceived of by our Chairman, Oscar de la Renta, and curated by Hamish Bowles, the exhibition drew on Balenciaga clothing and supporting historical and regional Spanish dress from museum and private collections in the United States, Canada, France and Spain. The exhibition and its accompanying catalogue focused on the influence of Balenciaga’s native country on the designer’s creative process and work, considered the influences on his designs of the country’s great artists, from Zurbarán and Goya to Picasso and Miró; significant Spanish works of art and decorative arts supported the curatorial thesis of the exhibition to create a compelling, lively, and dramatic vision of Spain in all its glory, and the work of its most masterful designer. The exhibition took place from November 17, 2010 to February 19, 2011.

Another exhibition from this past year was Re-imagining Don Quixote, an exhibition of the Arion Press handcrafted edition of Edith Grossman’s translated Don Quixote, illustrated by the acclaimed contemporary artist William T. Wiley and designed by Arion Press Founder Andrew Hoyem. The exhibition was in conjunction with America's Society and Arion Press. Also in 2010, an exhibition entitled Treasures along the Route of Santiago featured photographs and sculptures of critical World Monument Fund projects across Spain along Camino de Santiago.

Throughout the years, past exhibitions have included Madrid Fashion Week, Tile Design in Valencia, From Goya to Sorolla: Queen Sofia Spanish Institute salutes the Hispanic Society of America on its 100th Anniversary, Children's Drawings of the Spanish Civil War, an exhibition that marked the 50th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War in Collaboration with the Consulate General of Spain in New York, and many more.

The role of Inmaculada de Habsburg Lorena over the 32 years of her leadership as President and CEO of the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute and the Board of Directors has been formidable. The dedication and cultural awareness that these distinguished individuals provides and many of whom continue to sponsor has made Spain and Latin American culture more of a presence in the United States.

Cultural eventsEdit

In addition to the array of cultural exhibitions that the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute sponsored, and many of these events were held at the institutions building there were lectures, book presentations, musical recitals, and other events. During the eight year Chairman role led by Oscar de la Renta , he generously presented the NY Botanical Gardens summer exhibition entitled Spanish Paradise:Gardens of the Alhambra. In 2011, Claudia Roden presented her Spanish food cookbook entitled The Food of Spain. Following her lecture was a catered reception in collaboration with the Culinary Historians of New York. Other past events have included a concert celebrating the end of Spanish presidency in the European Union, a lecture entitled A New Light on Picasso, a celebration of the Hudson Review's Spanish Issue, and many more.

Gala Gold MedalistsEdit

Since 1978, Queen Sofía Spanish Institute's Gold Medal has been awarded annually to Americans and Spaniards in recognition of their contributions to the betterment of relations between the United States and Spain.This event brings together an array of international and American leaders and benefactors for a festive night of celebration. The Gala is a major source of funds for the activities of the Institute. Last year's 2010 Gala Gold medalists included Diane von Fürstenberg and the Spanish National Soccer Team. Other recent medalists include the Duchess of Alba in 2008, Penélope Cruz and President Bill Clinton in 2007, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2006, and Dr. Henry Kissinger in 2005. In 2003, a 15th Anniversary Commemorative Medal was awarded to His Majesty King Juan Carlos I and Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain. Other well-known past medalists include fashion designer Carolina Herrera in 1997 and the Institute's past chairman and fashion designer Oscar de la Renta in 1993. The winners of the 2013 Queen Sofia Spanish Institute Gold Medal Awards celebrated at the Waldorf Astoria, in New York City on November 19, 2013 was Antonio Banderas and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Translation PrizeEdit

With the aim of elevating awareness and engendering appreciation of Spanish literature in the United States, this triennial $10,000 prize has been created by the Cultural Committee and Board of Directors of Queen Sofía Spanish Institute to honor the best English-language translation of a work of fiction written in Spanish by a Spanish author a The inaugural award, celebrating the best translation published between 2006 and 2008, was given in 2010 to Edith Grossman for her 2008 translation of Antonio Muñoz Molina's A Manuscript of Ashes.

This prize celebrates the work and dedication of the translator and the $10,000. prize is awarded directly to the winner.

The first initiative in place after the Institutes recent changes include the selection of a brilliant reading committee composed of published writers, scholars, translators and academics to select the best translation of a work of fiction written in Spanish, between 2010 and 2017. The panel is now reviewing nominations and nominees will be selected in the first quarter of 2018, and then the committee will read the works in Spanish and English and the winner will be selected in late summer and the award will be presented in the fall of 2018. The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute is honored to have such strong intellectuals leading this important cultural committee.

The Committee members include:

Christopher Maurer is the Chair of this Reading Committee and is the Chair of Romance Studies at Boston University.

Sue Byrne is the Chair of the Department of World Languages and Culture in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.Prior to joining UNLV, in 2016 she held appointments at Yale University (2008-2016).

Eduardo Lago is a Professor of Spanish literature, and European Literature at Sarah Lawrence College and was formerly Director of the Cervantes Institute in New York.

Seth Kimmel is an Assistant Professor at Columbia University- Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures.


Queen Sofía Spanish Institute is funded by individual and corporate membership fees, donations, foundation grants and an endowment fund. Membership includes free admission to the openings of exhibitions, lectures, symposiums, book presentations, as well as reduced prices for the music recitals and publications of Queen Sofía Spanish Institute. Members take an active part in all programs.

Queen Sofía Spanish Institute is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization.

See alsoEdit

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