Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel is an author, television interviewer and producer, preservationist, and civic activist. In 1966, Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel became the first Director of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, initiating the first public art exhibition by Tony Smith at Bryant Park and the first public performance in Central Park of the Metropolitan Opera. She also served as a Commissioner of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission from 1972 to 1987 and was Chair of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Foundation from 1987 to 1995. She has served as a Member of the NYC Cultural Affairs Commission, where she was Chair/Founder of the Mayor’s Awards of Arts and Culture and a Member of the NYC Art Commission (now called the Public Design Commission). She is currently the Chair of NYC Landmarks 50, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the organization and the NYC Landmarks Law.
Since 1995, Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel has been the Chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center (HLPC), creating a Cultural Medallion program documenting notable occurrences, distinguished individuals and other important aspects of NYC’s cultural, economic, political and social history. Among other programs, the HLPC initiated, created, designed and financed all of the terra cotta street signs in each of NYC’s Historic Districts. Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel was appointed by President Reagan to the Board of the United States Holocaust Museum in 1987 where she served as Chair of the subcommittee that commissioned all of the original art created for the museum. She was appointed to the United States Commission of Fine Arts in 1992 by President Clinton and in 1999 Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel became the first woman elected Vice Chair of the Commission. In 2008, President Obama appointed her to the American Battle Monuments Commission.
Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel is the author of 20 books and the curator of eight international museum exhibitions, each based on one of her books. A recent exhibit was circulated based on “The Landmarks of New York,” by the U.S. Department of State to 62 countries on each of the five continents. Her current exhibit is travelling to fourteen cities throughout New York State. Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Fresh Air Fund, Friends of the High Line, and the Trust for the National Mall in Washington, DC among others. Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel earned her doctorate from New York University, and has received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Longwood University in Virginia and Pratt Institute in NYC. She has been elected an Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects and PEN, Slovakia.