Samuel L. Jackson, LaTanya Richardson, Robert De Niro & Grace Hightower honored at event

Keija Minor, Zoe Jackson, LaLa Anthony

*The Board of Trustees and the Multicultural Audience Development Advisory Committee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art welcomed a beautiful gathering of patrons to the Multicultural Gala: An Evening of Many Cultures on Monday, September 26, 2011 honoring Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson Jackson; and Robert De Niro & Grace Hightower De Niro.  The husband and wife couples were honored for their important philanthropic work on behalf of the underserved.

Resplendent dinner guests arrived at the Metropolitan Museum at 6:30 p.m. for cocktails in the Great Hall and dinner at The Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing, followed by a dance party in the Great Hall with admission beginning at 8:30 p.m.  Proceeds from the event will benefit the Multicultural Audience Development Initiative’s programming at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thomas P. Campbell (director), Emily K. Rafferty (president) and Harold Holzer (senior vice president for external affairs) welcomed guests to the black-tie event that is the signature soiree of the renowned art Museum’s Multicultural Audience Development Initiative (MADI), founded in 1998.  The first annual benefit set the bar for others to follow.  The second one raised it!

As Jazzmobile dazzled guests with jazzy selections, guests dined on Chilled Peekytoe Crab Tian; Ruby Grapefruit, Quinoa and Avocado with Sequoia Grove Chardonnay, Carneros 2009; Bourbon Braised Beef Short Ribs, Mélange of Seasonal Baby Vegetables, Goat Cheese Daupinoise Potatoes with Benziger Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma 2007; and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Crumb Tart and Caramelized Bananas Foster with the finest teas and coffee.

The celebratory Multicultural Benefit also honored the artists Olga de Amaral and Cai Guo-Qiang.  Olga de Amaral is a Colombian artist whose masterful tapestries and fiber sculptures are included in the collections of museums around the world, including the Metropolitan.  She previously served as co-chair of the Museum’s 2008 benefit.

Chinese-born artist Cai Guo-Qiang is known internationally for his elaborate sculpture installations and gunpowder projects.  He created a site-specific exhibition in 2006 for The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden at the Met entitled Cai Guo-Qiang on the Roof: Transparent Monument.

Chair of the gala benefit was platinum realtor Spencer Means. Honorary dance chairs were New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony and his lovely wife and reality TV star La La Anthony.  Co-chairs of the dance were Zoe Jackson and Keija MinorEssence magazine served as print media sponsor of the Multicultural Gala.

Mike Hearn, Wen You Cai, Olga de Amaral, Samuel L. Jackson, Jan Adlin, LaTanya Richardson, Grace Hightower, Robert De Niro, Donna Williams, Harold Holtzer

During the festive program guests were delightfully entertained by performances from the New York Chinese Cultural Center; Tango Conspiracy, Marlon Cherry and Sidduki Conde, Tiokasin and Ghosthorse.

“We are delighted to celebrate the initiative with old and new supporters and friends, and to spread the word about our dedication to providing a meeting ground for visitors, who come together from widely different cultures to experience the Metropolitan Museum’s outstanding and diverse collections,” commented Donna Williams, the Metropolitan Museum’s chief audience development officer.

The evening’s festivities also featured a viewing of the exhibition Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures.  Bringing together more than one hundred masterpieces drawn from collections in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Portugal, France, and the United States, this major international loan exhibition will consider eight landmark sculptural traditions from West and Central Africa created between the twelfth and early twentieth centuries.  The exhibition is made possible in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Ceil & Michael E. Pulitzer Foundation, Inc., and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Multicultural Audience Development Initiative reflects the Museum’s founding mission to educate and inspire by reaching out to all of its constituencies, including the many diverse communities that comprise the tri-state area.  Its objectives are to heighten awareness of the Museum’s programs and collections, to increase participation in its activities and to diversity its visitorship and Membership.  (Photos by Billy Farrell)

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.