Blog Article


Benefit Luncheon on Thursday, April 24, 2008 at the University Club of Chicago

CHICAGO – The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) will honor National Museum of Mexican Art President Carlos Tortolero at a benefit luncheon at the University Club of Chicago (76 East Monroe Street, Chicago) on Thursday, April 24, 2008 at noon. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m.

The Honorable Richard M. Daley, Mayor, City of Chicago, serves as the Honorary Chair for this event.

For tickets and sponsorship opportunities, including the purchase of tables, please call Maureen McCarthy at 312.422.5580 x235 or visit All proceeds from the luncheon will support the Illinois Humanities Council.

At the luncheon, Mr. Tortolero will receive the Council’s 2008 Public Humanities Award. Given annually by the IHC, this award recognizes individuals and organizations for their contributions to public understanding of the role the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities.

Mr. Tortolero is President and founder of the National Museum of Mexican Art, the largest Latino arts institution in the nation and the only Latino museum accredited by the American Association of Museums. Founded in 1982 and opened in 1987, the Museum has become a national model for its exhibits, performances, arts education programs, advocacy of cultural equity issues, and as a model for how museums need to change in today’s society.

Twenty exhibitions organized by the Museum have traveled across the U.S., six of which have also traveled to Mexico. The Museum is currently touring its landmark exhibition, The African Presence in Mexico. The exhibition is on an 11-city tour through the U.S. and Mexico through 2010, and has the unique distinction of being the only art exhibition to be shown at Latino museums, African American museums, and mainstream museums.

The Museum also organizes three annual festivals — The Sor Juana Festival: A Tribute to Mexican Women, Del Corazón: Mexican Performing Arts Festival, and Dia del Niño Festival. The Museum has won numerous awards, including the Institute of Museum Services’ National Museum Award at a White House ceremony."

The Museum has two nationally recognized youth initiatives located in the community, including Radio Arte WRTE-FM 90.5 FM, a youth-operated station, which is the only Latino-owned urban public radio station in the country. Radio Arte is a 2003 recipient of the White House’s Coming Up Taller Award, which is given to national models for youth arts programs. The second youth initiative is the Yollocalli Youth Arts Reach, a program that provides arts training for youth.

From 1975-1987, Tortolero worked as a teacher, counselor, and administrator in the Chicago Public School System. He is the co-author of Mexican Chicago, a photo history book of the Mexican community of Chicago.

“We are thrilled to honor Carlos. As an educator and President and founder of the National Museum of Mexican Art, he has created an institution that uses the arts and humanities to enrich our city’s — and our nation’s — understanding of and appreciation for Mexican culture,” said Illinois Humanities Council Executive Director Kristina A. Valaitis.

“Carlos has been a wonderful friend to the Illinois Humanities Council. Moreover, his vision of the important role the humanities play in providing a context for the arts and the issues they raise makes the Museum an institution that offers visitors of all ages the best kind of challenge — to look, appreciate, think, discuss, argue, and learn more,” said Arthur M. Sussman, Illinois Humanities Council Board Chair.

The Illinois Humanities Council broadens intellectual horizons by creating educational opportunities in the humanities for all Illinoisans. One of its flagship programs, the Odyssey Project, a year-long, college-level course in the humanities for low-income adults, is offered in both English and Spanish. The Council’s Café Society program, also offered in English and Spanish, is designed to foster a more robust civil society, more cohesive and interactive communities, greater media literacy, and a more informed and engaged citizenry through weekly coffee shop conversations about contemporary social issues.

Whether deepening our understanding of the history right under our feet, or of the culture and experiences of our neighbors, Council programs bring scholars together with Illinoisans from all walks of life to reflect, think critically, and actively exchange ideas about what is important to all of us. Through film, performance, exhibitions, lectures, seminars, and public forums, the Council is a catalyst for imaginative ventures of the mind and heart. Organized in 1973 as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Councilis an independent, nonprofit educational organization, (501 [c] 3).

The Council’s Chairman is Arthur M. Sussman, Vice President of the MacArthur Foundation. Other Board officers include: Cheryl Johnson-Odim (Evanston), Frank Cizon (Chicago), and Gayl S. Pyatt (Pinckneyville). For more information on this event, call the Council at 312.422.5580 or visit

The Illinois Humanities Council is an educational organization dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Through its programs and grants, the IHC promotes greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. Organized as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973, the IHC is now a private nonprofit (501 [c] 3) organization that is funded by contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations; by the Illinois General Assembly; and by the NEH.

# # #