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President will recognize Emily Rauh Pulitzer

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 11, 2012 - President Obama will award the 2011 National Medals of Arts and Humanities on Monday at a ceremony in the White House.

Among those being recognized for their contributions to the cultural well-being of the nation is Emily Rauh Pulitzer.

The other National Medal of Arts recipients are Will Barnet, Rita Dove, Al Pacino, Martin Puryear, Mel Tillis, the United Service Organization and Andre Watts.

The 2011 National Humanities Medal will go to Kwame Anthony Appiah, John Ashbery, Robert Darnton, Andrew Delbanco, National History Day, Charles Rosen, Teofilo Ruiz, Ramon Saldivar and Amartya Sen.

The citation for the long-time St. Louisan reads: "Emily Rauh Pulitzer for her contributions as a curator, art collector and philanthropist. Mrs. Pulitzer has dedicated herself to connecting art and viewers through her generosity in caring for well-established institutions like the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the Harvard Art Museums, and the Museum of Modern Art; as well as having the vision to create a new destination in St. Louis with the founding of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts."

"Totally surprised" is how Pulitzer felt when she learned of the tribute several weeks ago. Pulitzer, who earned a master's degree in art history from Harvard and worked as curator of the Saint Louis Art Museum for nearly a decade, is no stranger to awards. Among her honors is the the Duncan Philips Award from the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., that she received in 2009.

But Pulitzer told the Beacon that being a National Medals of Arts award recipient is particularly meaningful.

"I think it is the most significant," Pulitzer said. "It's given by the president of the United States, and it's not given to terribly many people. And a lot of the other honors are fundraising-oriented and this clearly is not."

Awards to arts contributors are important for "the visibility they give to a larger audience about the importance of the arts," Pulitzer said.

The awardees will gather in the capital city Sunday night for a dinner in their honor, leading up to Monday's ceremony. While Pulitzer has met numerous celebrities and dignitaries, these events will introduce her for the first time to not only Al Pacino but also to President Obama.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Pulitzer said.

 Note: Mrs. Pulitzer is a contributor to the Beacon.

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