Carmen C. Bambach. Photo: The Vilcek Foundation.

Carmen C. Bambach Wins $100,000 Vilcek Prize for Excellence

The Vilcek Foundation has named curator Carmen C. Bambach the recipient of the inaugural Vilcek Prize for Excellence. The $100,000 award honors immigrants who have had a significant impact on American society and world culture. “The contributions of both immigrants and curators often goes unheralded and unappreciated,” said Marica Vilcek, cofounder of the foundation. “With the Vilcek Prize for Excellence, we are afforded the unique opportunity to bring them into the limelight to be recognized and celebrated.”

Born in Chile, Bambach, an expert on Renaissance art, immigrated to the US with her parents as a teenager, fleeing political upheaval in the 1970s. She completed her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees at Yale University, and among her several honors, she has been named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Guggenheim fellow, and a fellow of the American Academy in Rome.

Over the course of her career, she has authored numerous books, catalogues, and scholarly articles, and she currently works as curator of Italian and Spanish drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she spearheaded the 2017–18 exhibition “Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer.” The show drew 702,516 people, helping the Met achieve record attendance numbers at the end of its last fiscal year.

The award is the newest addition to the foundation’s prize program, which celebrates the contributions of immigrants to the culture of the United States. Unlike its other prizes in the arts and humanities, the Vilcek Prize for Excellence is awarded at the discretion of founders Jan and Marica Vilcek in a field of their choosing.