Dr. Barbaralee

Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel

Founder & Chair, NYC Landmarks50+ Alliance

Chair, Historic Landmarks Preservation Center 

Commissioner, American Battle Monuments Commission


Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, author, television interviewer/producer, preservationist, and civic activist, has served as "a leading voice on some of the defining urban issues of our time," and was appointed Chair of the New York State Council on the Arts, in April 2016, after serving as Vice Chair since 2012.

In 1966, Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel was the first Director of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, initiating the first public art exhibition of Tony Smith sculptures at Bryant Park, the first public performance in Central Park of the Metropolitan Opera, and the first week-long festival of New York City films. She was the longest-serving Commissioner of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, from 1972 to 1987, and Chair of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Foundation from 1987 to 1995. A Member of the NYC Cultural Affairs Commission, she was Chair/Founder of the Mayor’s Awards of Arts and Culture; and a Member of the NYC Art Commission (now the Public Design Commission). She is the Founder/Chair of NYC Landmarks 50+ Alliance, and is also the Chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center, where she created a Cultural Medallion program which documents notable occurrences, distinguished individuals and other important aspects of NYC’s cultural, economic, political and social history. Among other programs, HLPC initiated, created, designed and financed the distinctive terra cotta Street Signs in each of NYC’s Historic Districts. A former White House assistant, she helped create the White House Fellows Program, the Presidential Scholars Program, and was Director of the first, and only, White House Festival of the Arts. Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel was appointed by President Reagan to the Board of the United States Holocaust Museum in 1987, and named Chair of the subcommittee that commissioned all of the original art created for the museum. Appointed by President Clinton to the United States Commission of Fine Arts in 1992, in 1999 she became the first woman elected Vice Chair of the Commission. President Obama appointed her to the American Battle Monuments Commission, where she was named Chair of the Monuments and Memorials Committee, and served from 2008-2018.

Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel is the author of numerous articles and 23 books, and the curator of eight international museum exhibitions, each based on one of her books. Her most recent exhibit, “Landmarks of New York,” travelled to fourteen cities throughout New York State, and is permanently installed in the Duberstein Courthouse in Brooklyn, NY. A frequent contributor to television, she was the interviewer/producer of multi-part series for A & E Network on the visual arts, architecture, design, photography, fashion, and crafts. She was a Founding Director of the Friends of the High Line, and a Founding Director of the Trust for the National Mall in Washington, D.C. She serves on the Boards of the Fresh Air Fund, among others. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, she earned her doctorate with high honors from New York University, and received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Longwood University in Virginia, Pratt Institute in NYC, and SUNY-Purchase in Purchase, NY. She has been elected an Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects and PEN, Slovakia.