The Legacy

Howard Gilman was the third generation of his family to run the Gilman Paper Company, the largest privately owned paper and building products company in the country. Howard’s interests, however, went well beyond those of paper. In 1981, he created the Howard Gilman Foundation to support the medical, social, educational, environmental, and artistic causes that he held most dear.

Howard’s impact on the arts, in particular, was stunning. From helping to fund the very first Next Wave Festival at BAM, to turning part of his Florida estate into studio space for Mikhail Baryshnikov and Mark Morris, to supporting museums like MOMA and the Met, Howard embodied his belief that artists must be nurtured and their work must be made available and accessible for all.

Upon Howard’s passing in 1998, his legacy was entrusted to the Foundation, and his work was given a future. In 2014, under the guidance of new executive leadership and a dedicated Board of Trustees, the Foundation renewed its pledge to Mr. Gilman’s legendary vision. Today, the Foundation honors Mr. Gilman’s memory by supporting three of his most beloved disciplines—dance, music, and theatre—and dedicates its efforts to organizations that are based in his birthplace and hometown: New York City.

Howard Gilman’s devotion to the arts will be remembered by New York’s residents and visitors for generations to come. The Foundation is particularly proud to lend Howard’s name to six of the city’s most prolific cultural institutions: Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Baryshnikov Arts Center, National Dance Institute, Mark Morris Dance Group, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Howard’s name also graces his alma mater, Dartmouth College, where the Foundation endowed the Hopkins Center for the Arts Howard Gilman ’44 Directorship.

The Howard Gilman Opera House
Brooklyn Academy of Music

The Howard Gilman Opera House at BAM
Photo by Elliott Kaufman

Howard Gilman’s friendship with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) began in 1982 during the inaugural days of the now-famed New Wave Festival. By supporting BAM, and thus the work of visionaries like Pina Bausch, Meredith Monk, and Philip Glass, Howard demonstrated his commitment to contemporary artists.

The BAM Opera House was built in 1908 and has long been considered one of the nation’s most treasured theatrical venues. The stage has hosted a myriad of exceptional artists and culture-makers, and its 2,090-seat house has welcomed dignitaries from all over the world. In 1999, after a $5 million grant from the Foundation, BAM renamed this spectacular venue the Howard Gilman Opera House.

BAM is the oldest operating performing arts center in the United States. Since 1908, its opera house has stood for 91 years unnamed, seemingly destined to bear the name Howard Gilman. As we name the theater in his honor, we pay tribute to a person whose heartfelt passion and commitment to the performing arts mirrored the adventurous spirit of our groundbreaking institution.

—Karen Brooks Hopkins, Former BAM President

The Howard Gilman Opera House at BAM
Photo by Elliott Kaufman

The Howard Gilman Performance Space
Baryshnikov Arts Center

The Howard Gilman Performance Space at Baryshnikov Arts Center
Photo by Julieta Cervantes

In 1974, Howard helped pave the way for Mikhail Baryshnikov to come to New York City after he left the Soviet Union. This was the beginning of a life-long friendship between the two men, fueled by a mutual devotion to dance.

When I came to this country, Howard Gilman became my family. He was like my oldest brother. He enriched the lives of all who knew him with comfort and warmth and love. He was a great man, and we are honored to continue his legacy at BAC.

—Mikhail Baryshnikov

In 2005, seven years after Howard’s death, Baryshnikov opened Baryshnikov Arts Center on West 37th Street in Manhattan. The Howard Gilman Foundation’s support in 2006 made possible BAC’s first named performance venue, the 136-seat Howard Gilman Performance Space. Today, BAC is a thriving cultural destination that continues Howard’s visionary commitment to the arts.

The Howard Gilman Performance Space at Baryshnikov Arts Center
BAC Resident Artist Hana Kim, Photo by Anna Lee Campbell

The Howard Gilman Performance Space
National Dance Institute

ndi_hg_02[1]The Howard Gilman Performance Space at National Dance Institute

Howard was a great fan of New York City Ballet. In the early 1970s, he was introduced to one of the Ballet’s most celebrated performers—principal dancer Jacques d’Amboise—and a lasting friendship was formed.

In 1976, Jacques created National Dance Institute (NDI), an organization devoted to engaging and motivating children through the art of dance. During nearly four decades of growth, NDI has touched the lives of two million children, spreading their belief that “every child—regardless of socioeconomic status, language, cultural background, or physical ability—should have the opportunity to experience the joy and power of the arts.”

In 2011, NDI opened the doors to the National Dance Institute Center for Learning & the Arts on West 147th Street in Harlem. Boasting four studios, two galleries, and a flexible performance space, this center allowed NDI to expand its exceptional programming. In 2014, after a $1.5 million gift from the Foundation, the NDI Center’s performance space was officially named for Howard.

Howard was deeply devoted to the arts during his lifetime, and we are honored to celebrate his legacy and see his passion live on in our work.

— Jacques d’Amboise

ndi_hg_01[1]The 3,551 square foot performance space has sprung wood floors, integrated theatrical lighting and sound equipment, two HD projectors, retractable bleacher seating, and a Steinway Concert Grand piano.

The Howard Gilman Dressing Room
Mark Morris Dance Center


Mark Morris Dance Center

The Howard Gilman Dressing Room is the heart of the Mark Morris Dance Center. Located on the same floor as the administrative team, the space provides each dancer in the company with their own desk, closet, and changing area. In addition, it has warm-up space, bathrooms, showers, and a small kitchenette. So often, dancers live their lives out of their bags; here, each dancer is provided with all of the elements necessary for a successful day of artistic performance, the way office workers are provided with tools for administrative performance.

Created with funding from the Foundation in 2001, the space is symbolic of the company’s approach to many things: respect for the dancer’s lifestyle, the importance of creating a “home base,” and the idea that everyone, dancers and administrators alike, are part of the artistic ecosystem.


L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato
Photo by Elaine Mayson

The Howard Gilman Gallery
Metropolitan Museum of Art


Gallery 852/The Howard Gilman Gallery
Photo by Anna Kellen, The Photograph Studio, ©The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Howard, with the help of his renowned curator Pierre Apraxine, painstakingly acquired and preserved a collection of over 8,500 photographs. Howard introduced the world to this exquisite collection during an exhibition entitled “The Waking Dream” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1993.

In 1997, a year before Howard’s death, the Met opened its first permanent gallery for photography, Gallery 852/The Howard Gilman Gallery, which borrowed from Howard’s collection. Later, when the Met acquired the Gilman collection in its entirety, Malcolm Daniel, senior curator in the Department of Photographs, said “it’s undoubtedly the most important thing that has happened at the Met in the area of photography and is probably the most important thing that is likely ever to happen.”

The Howard Gilman Theater
Film Society of Lincoln Center

The Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at the Film Society of Lincoln Center
Photo by Albert Vecerka/Esto

During his life, Howard donated generously to the Film Society of Lincoln Center. He helped to fund the opening of the 236-seat Walter Reade Theater in 1991, the Society’s first permanent home.

In 2008, plans were made for a second venue, the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, which would feature two state-of-the-art cinema theatres. The Foundation pledged their support, and in 2011, the 90-seat Howard Gilman Theater welcomed its first audience.

Inside the Howard Gilman Theater at the Film Society of Lincoln Center
Photo by Albert Vecerka/Esto

The Howard Gilman '44 Directorship
Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College

Jeffrey H. James, the inaugural Howard Gilman ’44 Director, stands in front of The Hop.
Photo by Rob Strong

Howard Gilman graduated from Dartmouth College in 1944 and provided continued support to the College as a both a Board member and donor throughout his life. In 2008, the Foundation made a $5 million pledge to the campus’s Hopkins Center for the Arts (“The Hop”), which led to the creation of the Howard Gilman ’44 Directorship position.

Since its opening in 1962, The Hop has been the center of artistic activity at Dartmouth. From Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, The Hop offers world-class performance to students and the community at large. In addition to supporting The Hop’s director’s salary, the Howard Gilman Directorship endowment supports new artistic ventures and special projects initiated by the Director, including new-work commissions, special artist residencies, student ensemble tours, and experimental pilot projects.

The Hop and Dartmouth students welcome visiting artists Wynton Marsalis and Jared Grimes.
Photo by Rob Strong