The Spanish Institute was founded in 1954. As the center for American-Spanish affairs, the institute organizes lectures, symposia and meetings to discuss economic, political and social issues. Language courses as well as exhibitions and cultural events related to Spain and Latin America are also offered. The institute was named in honor of Queen Sofía of Spain.
The president is Inmaculada de Habsburgo, younger daughter of Archduke Karl Pius of Austria.
The Spanish Institute Class Program has offered Spanish as a foreign language at all learning levels since 1968. Group classes are strictly limited to 12 students, thereby enabling full individual participation and a lively and elegant atmosphere. The instructors are native speakers with extensive teaching experience and hold advanced degrees in various fields. Outside the classroom, the students are encouraged to immerse themselves in Spanish and Latin American culture by participating in the Institute’s events and by facilitating their participation in field trips, readings, musical and dramatic performances, art exhibitions and restaurant events around New York City.
In winter 2011, the Spanish Institute Class Program, as part of a greater effort to expand the curriculum, introduced Sábados Sociales, new weekly programming meant to deepen current students’ immersion in the Spanish language and open up the possibility of participating in short-term Class Program workshops to prospective students who otherwise were unable to commit to a full course schedule. Structured as a social Spanish lesson, students and an instructor discuss a new topic each Saturday afternoon over wine and tapas.
Special Class Program Workshops offered in the past have included: ¡Me Gusta el Vino! Wine Appreciation Course for the Non-Expert, Relax & Learn! Yoga in Spanish, Accent reduction techniques, ¡A bailar! Approach to Latin rhythms, ¡Vamos al cine! Let's talk Hispanic movies, and others.
Queen Sofía Spanish Institute has maintained a strong commitment to the fine arts by exhibiting major masters and newly emerging artists from Spain, Latin America and Europe. Exhibitions on themes related to Spanish art and the Spanish tradition in the Americas are offered throughout the year at the Institute's two galleries. The Institute most recent cultural endeavor was an exhibition entitled Balenciaga:Spanish Master. This was the first exhibition to consider the impact of Spain’s culture, history and art on one of its greatest twentieth century sons, the legendary designer Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895–1972). Conceived of by our Chairman, Oscar de la Renta, and curated by Hamish Bowles, the exhibition drew on Balenciaga clothing and supporting historical and regional Spanish dress from museum and private collections in the United States, Canada, France and Spain. The exhibition and its accompanying catalogue focused on the influence of Balenciaga’s native country on the designer’s creative process and work, considered the influences on his designs of the country’s great artists, from Zurbarán and Goya to Picasso and Miró; significant Spanish works of art and decorative arts supported the curatorial thesis of the exhibition to create a compelling, lively, and dramatic vision of Spain in all its glory, and the work of its most masterful designer. The exhibition took place from November 17, 2010 to February 19, 2011.
Another exhibition from this past year was Re-imagining Don Quixote, an exhibition of the Arion Press handcrafted edition of Edith Grossman’s translated Don Quixote, illustrated by the acclaimed contemporary artist William T. Wiley and designed by Arion Press Founder Andrew Hoyem. The exhibition was in conjunction with America's Society and Arion Press. Also in 2010, an exhibition entitled Treasures along the Route of Santiago featured photographs and sculptures of critical World Monument Fund projects across Spain along Camino de Santiago.
Throughout the years, past exhibitions have included Madrid Fashion Week, Tile Design in Valencia, From Goya to Sorolla: Queen Sofia Spanish Institute salutes the Hispanic Society of America on its 100th Anniversary, Children's Drawings of the Spanish Civil War, an exhibition that marked the 50th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War in Collaboration with the Consulate General of Spain in New York, and many more.
In addition to the array of cultural exhibitions at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute, there are lectures, book presentations, musical recitals, and other events. Most recently, Chairman Oscar de la Renta gave remarks celebrating the NY Botanical Gardens summer exhibition entitled Spanish Paradise:Gardens of the Alhambra. On June 8, 2011, Claudia Roden presented her Spanish food cookbook entitled The Food of Spain. Following her lecture was a catered reception in collaboration with the Culinary Historians of New York. Other past events have included a concert celebrating the end of Spanish presidency in the European Union, a lecture entitled A New Light on Picasso, a celebration of the Hudson Review's Spanish Issue, and many more.
Since 1978, Queen Sofía Spanish Institute's Gold Medal has been awarded annually to Americans and Spaniards in recognition of their contributions to the betterment of relations between the United States and Spain.This event brings together an array of international and American leaders and benefactors for a festive night of celebration. The Gala is a major source of funds for the activities of the Institute. Last year's 2010 Gala Gold medalists included Diane von Fürstenberg and the Spanish National Soccer Team. Other recent medalists include H.E. The Duchess of Alba in 2008, Penélope Cruz and President Bill Clinton in 2007, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2006, and Dr. Henry Kissinger in 2005. In 2003, a 15th Anniversary Commemorative Medal was awarded to His Majesty King Juan Carlos I and Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain. Other well-known past medalists include fashion designer Carolina Herrera in 1997 and the Institute's current chairman and fashion designer Oscar de la Renta in 1993. The 2011 Gold Medal Gala will take place this November.
With the aim of elevating awareness and engendering appreciation of Spanish literature in the United States, this triennial $10,000 prize has been created by the Cultural Committee and Board of Directors of Queen Sofía Spanish Institute to honor the best English-language translation of a work of fiction written in Spanish by a Spanish author and published by an American imprint. The inaugural award, celebrating the best translation published between 2006 and 2008, was given in 2010 to Edith Grossman for her 2008 translation of Antonio Muñoz Molina's A Manuscript of Ashes. Subsequent awards are anticipated in 2012 and 2015.
Queen Sofía Spanish Institute is funded by individual and corporate membership fees, donations, foundation grants and an endowment fund. Membership includes free admission to the openings of exhibitions, lectures, symposia, book presentations, as well as reduced prices for the music recitals and publications of Queen Sofía Spanish Institute. Members take an active part in all programs.
Queen Sofía Spanish Institute is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization.