Maryellie Kulukundis Johnson RAD ’57 believes in the transformative power of art. “When I leave a gallery, exhibition, or museum, everything I see around me looks like a painting. Forms take on different dimensions, and I experience my surroundings totally differently,” she says. “Immersion in the arts sparks the creative process and can lead to the creation of new knowledge.”
Embracing Harvard’s vision for the arts as an integral part of the life of the University, Maryellie and her husband, Rupert H. Johnson Jr., have made a $10 million gift to enhance engagement with the arts at Harvard. The Johnson-Kulukundis family gift comprises a $5 million gift to the President’s Fund and a $5 million gift to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the latter of which will receive an additional $2.5 million through the Radcliffe endowment match program.
As an alumna of Radcliffe College, Maryellie says she is thrilled to support arts initiatives at Harvard.
“We want the University as a whole, and the Radcliffe Institute in particular, to launch new projects and programs in the arts that enrich and excite students, faculty, and the public,” she says.
The gift establishes the Johnson-Kulukundis Family President’s Fund for the Arts, which will support initiatives such as art intensives during Wintersession, internships, curriculum development, and visiting artist programs, and will provide funding for a graduate fellowship in the arts. The gift will also support the renovation and expansion of the art gallery in Byerly Hall at Radcliffe and underwrite its activities. Envisioned as an arts laboratory, the newly named Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery will showcase the work of artists and scholars across a variety of media.
In addition, the gift endows a faculty director of the arts to lead the development of arts programming at Radcliffe. Yukio Lippit AB ’92, the current Johnson-Kulukundis Family Faculty Director of the Arts at Radcliffe and professor of history of art and architecture in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, says the support of the Johnson-Kulukundis family will allow the Institute to develop and enrich a robust program of symposia, workshops, demonstrations, lectures, and visiting fellowships for the arts. “In sum, it will raise considerably the stature of the arts at both Radcliffe and Harvard and help to integrate meaningfully the arts into the multidisciplinary research profile of the Institute,” Lippit says.
“Creative arts are a gift in themselves and also for what they contribute to deeper knowledge in other disciplines,” says Lizabeth Cohen, dean of the Radcliffe Institute and Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies. “The contribution of the arts to critical thinking is a hallmark of Radcliffe’s past, an important feature of the Radcliffe Institute today, and—with this gift—an even more significant part of our future. The generosity of the Johnson-Kulukundis family furthers our mission to generate and share daring and exciting work across all fields.”