Blog Post

“Reminders of the Beauty and Meaning in the World”: Celebrating Champions of Heritage at the Hadrian Gala

For the 34th time in the history of World Monuments Fund (WMF), lovers of heritage gathered for the Hadrian Gala, an event honoring champions of conservation for their passionate commitment and extraordinary contributions to preserving and protecting the world’s shared cultural heritage. This year’s honorees joined an impressive roster of champions whose leadership inspires the protection of the world’s architectural and cultural heritage. 

“Tonight’s event goes way beyond World Monuments Fund,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, President and CEO of WMF, in her opening remarks. “The goal of this evening is to celebrate the incredible shared cultural heritage that brings us closer together and not farther apart, that celebrates our cultures instead of demonizing them, that reminds us of all the beauty and meaning in the world, and that inspires us all to do even more to safeguard the irreplaceable.” 

Notable guests at this year’s event included actress and producer Salma Hayek Pinault, French Ambassador to the United States, Laurent Bili, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, and designer Christian Louboutin, himself a past honoree. The gala raised $1.8 million to fund the preservation of heritage worldwide—an all-time record—and received coverage in outlets such as Vogue

Maryvonne Pinault received the Hadrian Award at the event for her tireless work advocating for French heritage in all its forms. A former Board Member of WMF France, she was particularly involved in WMF’s restoration of the Chancellerie d’Orléans and more recently in the relaunching of WMF’s French affiliate. Ms. Pinault is a major supporter of many cultural organizations in France, including the Musée du Louvre, the Château de Versailles, and the Association des Amateurs de Jardins. She and her family were leaders in the effort to support the reconstruction of Notre-Dame of Paris in the wake of the devastating fire in 2019, which led to the site’s selection for the 2020 World Monuments Watch. They are currently supporting the restoration of the Saint Sulpice Church, a former WMF project, as well as the reconstruction of multiple churches including Saint-Michel de Brasparts chapel in Brittany.

Jay Krehbiel and Liam Krehbiel accepted the Hadrian Award on behalf of their late father, Frederick Krehbiel, for his lifetime of work in the service of preserving eighteenth-century Irish art and architecture. Mr. Krehbiel is most known in this regard for his contribution to the restoration of Ballyfin Demesne, a nineteenth-century neoclassical manor. His publishing house, Churchill House Press, is an invaluable resource for scholars of art and architectural history. Mr. Krehbiel served on a number of leading Irish cultural institutions, including the National Gallery of Ireland and the Trinity Foundation. 

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, Chairman of the Board of Tata Sons, accepted the award on behalf of his organization, which has generously supported heritage projects across India. For over one hundred years, the Tatas have been involved in preserving and disseminating India’s material culture, from excavations at the ancient capital of Pataliputra to support for the restoration of Emperor Humayun’s tomb in Delhi to their recent partnership with WMF India on the historic water systems in the country. Other charitable works run the gamut from medicine to mathematics to the social sciences, all undertaken with the goal of uplifting the quality of life of the people of India.  

In conjunction with the Gala, WMF also held its third annual World Monuments Summit, which brought together a diverse group of experts and heritage enthusiasts for a day of discussions on some of the greatest challenges facing heritage today. Gala honorees were a key part of this event. Mr. Chandrasekaran spoke about the potential of historic water management systems to tackle the water crisis in India and abroad on a panel with Amita Baig, Executive Director of WMF India, and engineer Upmanu Lall, with moderation by journalist Andrew Revkin. Mr. Krehbiel and Ms. Pinault spoke with Charlotte Vignon, former director of the Musée national de céramique, as part of a panel moderated by Ms. de Montlaur about bringing historic interiors back to life. The final panel of the day focused on the partnership between WMF and The Metropolitan Museum of Art to produce audiovisual supplements for their new galleries. The panel—moderated by Jonathan S. Bell, WMF’s Vice President of Programs—featured Met curator Alisa La Gamma, filmmaker Sosena Solomon, architect Kulapat Yantrasast, and WMF Principal Project Director Stephen Battle.  

The Summit was also an opportunity to celebrate WMF’s affiliation with Global Heritage Fund to grow the impact of both organizations in protecting cultural heritage around the world. This move will see WMF and GHF unite to protect endangered heritage as global challenges increasingly threaten vital sites and the well-being of communities around them. Together, WMF and GHF aim to create a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable future for cultural heritage protection worldwide. 

The 2023 Hadrian Gala was made possible by the generosity of Kering, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), and Tata Sons. Additional support provided by Christie's.