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Mayor Fiorello La Guardia reading the Daily News election results in 1941.

The Italian American Museum
honored cultural leaders at a
Gala and Awards Ceremony

The Italian American Museum, the first museum dedicated to preserving and presenting the cultural and social contributions of Italian Americans to the American way of life, will honor three individuals for their role as architects of the Italian American cultural experience.

The awards will be presented at the Italian American Museum's second Gala and Awards ceremony, to be held on Friday, April 11, 2003 at the Plaza Hotel, 59th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The event is being sponsored by the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute of Queens College/The City University of New York (CUNY).

The honorees are:

Ambassador Charles A. Gargano, chairman,
Columbus Citizens Foundation and chairman,
Empire State Development Corporation, New York State

Joseph Maselli, founder and past president,
American Italian Renaissance Foundation and
co-founder, National Italian American Foundation

Baronessa Mariuccia Zerilli-Marimo, founder,
Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo at New York University

"The worldwide influence of the Italian heritage is immeasurable," says Joseph V. Scelsa, EdD, president and CEO of the Italian Museum. "Our 2003 award recipients have led important cultural institutions, and their work has had a major impact on cultural life experienced not just by Italian Americans, but by all people who appreciate Italian art and culture."

The award recipients will receive "La Bellissima America," a sculptural relief by artist Patrick Morelli.

Funds from the Gala and Awards ceremony will be used to locate a permanent home for the Italian American Museum, which, through the courtesy of CUNY, is in transitional residence at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute. The Italian American Museum is an outgrowth of the highly acclaimed and much-visited exhibit, "The Italians of New York: Five Centuries of Struggle and Achievement," held at the New York Historical Society in 1999. As a cultural and educational institution, now provisionally chartered by the New York State Board of Regents, the museum will sponsor exhibitions, lectures, festivals and symposia dedicated to informing the public about the heritage and contributions of Italian Americans.

Its current exhibit, "Angelo Spinelli: Behind the Barbed Wire," a collection of photos taken in captivity in a POW Stalag, has been called "a national treasure." Members of the Italian Museum Board are Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa, President; Philip Foglia, Esq., Executive Vice President; Robert Ciofalo, Vice President and Treasure; Max Di Fabio, Vice President; Cav. Maria Fosco, Vice President and Secretary; Ralph Tedesco, Vice President; and Historical Advisor, Dr. Philip Cannistraro, Distinguished Professor of Italian American Studies at CUNY

October 2003 marks the 100th anniversary of Caruso’s debut at the Metropolitan. A debut that not only made him an international star but also a remarkable role model and great source of pride for the Italian immigrants. The Italian American Museum is proud to present the exhibition, Caruso: The Life and Work of an Opera Legend. Caruso’s career reminds us that America is a rich soil from which all immigrants can become a success.

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