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Louvre Museum to Create Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar Fund to Underwrite New Programs

Source: American Friends of the Louvre


Pierre Omidyar
photo by Joichi Ito

New York, NY, May 31, 2011 - American Friends of the Louvre today announced that it has received a $3 million grant through the generosity of Pierre Omidyar, a member of Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute’s Board of Directors and the founder and Chairman of eBay Inc. The grant will be used to create an endowment fund that will support educational and scholarly programs on Persian art and culture. The fund will be named after founder, Chair and President of Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, Dr. Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar.

Income from the Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar Fund will support educational programs dedicated to Persian art and culture from antiquity to today, presented at or in collaboration with the Louvre, including special exhibitions, installations, conferences, and publications. The Louvre will also draw upon the Fund to create “Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar Fellowships” for outstanding scholars engaged in research and publications on Persian art and culture. An agreement was signed between Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute and American Friends of the Louvre, a U.S.-based not-for-profit which serves to strengthen ties between the Louvre and its American public.

Dr. Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar noted: “Working with the Louvre on Persian art and cultural programs is a unique and wonderful opportunity. I am grateful to be able to share the beauty of Persian culture with the public through special exhibitions, conferences, publications, and other initiatives. The Louvre’s new Islamic wing, which is currently under construction, will include a significant representation of Persian art. I am delighted about this collaboration at such an important time in the history of the museum.”

Henri Loyrette, President-Director of the Louvre, said: “I am so pleased by this exceptional gift in support of the museum’s Endowment Fund. Thanks to the generosity and commitment of Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar, the Louvre’s Departments of Near Eastern Antiquities and Islamic Art will be able to carry out long term projects on their collections of Persian art.”

Dr. Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar has devoted much of her professional career to the advancement and preservation of Persian culture and inter-cultural communication. She has held various positions at leading educational institutions in the U.S. and in France, authored and co-authored numerous scholarly works, produced extensive teaching materials and is often a speaker on Persian culture and linguistics at international conferences.

Founded by Dr. Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar in 2000, Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute is a leader in education and research on Persian art and culture. Under Dr. Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar’s stewardship, the Institute has made numerous major grants to establish and/or strengthen Persian studies programs at several prominent universities, awarded fellowships and scholarships to outstanding scholars and students in Persian studies, and has supported major programs relating to Persian arts and culture by museums and arts centers in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

Mr. Omidyar’s gift to American Friends of the Louvre is a reflection of his sincere admiration for France, where he was born, and the Louvre; and of his deep respect for his mother’s lifelong dedication to intercultural communication. Dr. Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar’s ties to France also go back a long way. She earned a B.A. from the Ecole Nationale des Langues Orientales Vivantes in Paris, an M.A. from the Sorbonne and a Ph.D. with Distinction in linguistics from the Sorbonne, in addition to an M.S. from Georgetown University. Dr. Mir-Djalali Omidyar spends several months each year at her home in Paris.

To recognize the generosity of Pierre Omidyar in support of Dr. Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar’s work at Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, the Louvre will name a gallery in her honor in the Department of Near Eastern Antiquities. Dr. Mir-Djalali Omidyar declared herself “exceedingly honored and humbled” by the gallery naming.

Creation and Development of the Louvre Endowment Fund

In 2009, the Louvre became the first French museum to create an endowment fund. The Louvre Museum encouraged the introduction of endowment funds in French law. Endowments are common among American cultural and educational institutions to secure a long-term sustainable base.

Income from the Endowment Fund will support major projects at the Museum, such as the creation of a new center for research and restoration of artworks, the renovation of the Tuileries Garden and the refurbishment of the galleries for Etruscan and Roman antiquities, as well as educational programs, research projects, and scholarly publications. While historically state supported, the Louvre now needs to generate half of its annual operating budget and fund its own capital and special programming initiatives.

American Friends of the Louvre

Christopher Forbes, Chairman of American Friends of the Louvre, stated: “Our organization is excited to collaborate with Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar and Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute on the establishment of this important endowment fund for Persian art. We hope that in the future, we will be able to secure more gifts from U.S. foundations and individuals who wish to advance the long term mission and goals of the Louvre Museum.”

American Friends of the Louvre was founded to strengthen ties between the Louvre and its American public. Since its New York office opened in 2004, it has made commitments for a variety of projects benefiting every curatorial department at the Louvre, its education and outreach programs, conservation and scholarship and its U.S. partnerships. It has also secured significant works of art that will enhance the Louvre’s collections.

Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute

Supporting the preservation, transmission and instruction of Persian "culture" as further defined.

Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute

The expression Roshan literally means clear or bright in Persian. As such, it is closely associated with light and connected to concepts such as clarity, understanding, and authenticity. This word embodies the guiding principle behind the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute's mission of bringing to light the importance of Persian culture and achieving clear understanding through community involvement and education.


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