Our Mission

The mission of The National Arts Club is to stimulate, foster, and promote public interest in the arts and to educate the American people in the fine arts.


The Beginnings

The National Arts Club was founded in 1898 by author and poet Charles De Kay, the literary and art critic for The New York Times. He together with a group of distinguished artists and patrons conceived of a gathering place to welcome artists of all genres as well as art lovers and patrons. At the turn of the 20th century American artists began to look to our own country rather than to Europe for inspiration, and the American art world was alive with energy. The newly-formed National Arts Club took residence in a mansion on 34th Street. American art had a new home. In 1906, when the Club outgrew that location, Spencer Trask, a financier, philanthropist and NAC Governor, helped the Club acquire the historic Samuel Tilden Mansion as its new home.


In Good Company

The Club's Membership has included three U.S. Presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Among the distinguished painters who have been members are Robert Henri, Frederic Remington, William Merritt Chase and Cecilia Beaux. Sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Daniel Chester French, Anna Hyatt Huntington and Paul Manship were all members as were composer Victor Herbert, conductor Walter Damrosch, photographer Alfred Stieglitz and architects Stanford White and George B. Post.

The National Arts Club admitted women on a full and equal basis from its inception, and the Club has a long history of exclusivity through inclusivity. Charles Spencer Trask, Charles Rollison Lamb, Charles de Kay and the other co-founders recognized the importance of female artists. The National Arts Club continues its tradition of inclusivity by welcoming all artists.

Renowned for its expansive American art collection, the Club owns works by Edward Potthast, Francis Mora, Ella Lamb, Charles Curran, Henry Watrous, Oscar Fehrer, Helen Turner and Will Barnet among many others. The National Arts Club is proud of its early recognition of innovative art media such as photography, film and digital media.


The National Arts Club Today

The National Arts Club hosts both members-only and public events, including exhibitions, theatrical and musical performances, lectures and readings. Feature programs focus on all disciplines of the arts. All of these programs, as well as other activities, are coordinated by volunteers from the membership who serve to enrich the Club’s artistic heritage.

The National Arts Club hosts ten Arts Programs committees, including Archaeology, Architecture, Art & Technology, Fashion, Film, Literature, Music, Roundtable, Theatre Arts and Young Members.

In addition to weekly public events, each year The National Arts Club host our prestigious Medal of Honor galas honoring exemplary leaders in their chosen fields of art. Some of The National Arts Club Medal of Honor honorees are WH Auden, Anthony Burgess, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Norman Mailer, Saul Bellow, Allen Ginsberg, John Updike, Marguerite Yourcenar, Iris Murdoch, Philip Roth, Arthur Miller, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Nadine Gordimer, Tom Wolfe, Chinua Achebe, Don DeLillo, Joyce Carol Oates, Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, John Ashbery, Leonard Bernstein, Alice Tully, Avery Fisher, Amyas Ames and the New York Philharmonic, Frederica von Stade, Benny Goodman, Isaac Stern, James Levine, Placido Domingo, Itzhak Perlman, Paddy Moloney, Byron Janis, Ilse Bing, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, John Szarkowski, Inge Morath, George Kalinsky, R. Buckminster Fuller, I.M. Pei, Daniel Libeskind, Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, Robert A. Stern, Eleanor Roosevelt, Salvador Dali, Chen Chi, Louise Nevelson, Stewart Klonis and The Art Students League, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Rauschenberg, Will Barnet, Christo, Roy Lichtenstein, Marisol, Dale Chihuly, Chuck Close, James Turrell, James Moody, Ed Ruscha, Spike Lee, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Dreyfuss, John Turturro, Lynn Redgrave, Olympia Dukakis, Ang Lee, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Claire Bloom, Ellen Burstyn, Patricia Field, Jack O'Brien, Paul Auster, William Ivey Long, and Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

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