Preserving and expanding artistic knowledge by funding programs and initiatives at cultural institutions in the visual, performing and literary arts and humanities, mainly in New York City.


Project Highlight:  The Moynihan Center at The City College of New York Opens – Cultivating the next generation of public-service leaders


The Juilliard School scrapbook

Archives Program

Since 2005, the Leon Levy Foundation has awarded over $30 million to over 50 arts, humanities and conservation organizations to help them catalogue, preserve, digitize and help build archives and digital archives to provide critical access to information, documents, letters, photos, correspondence, printed and oral accounts, music, video and countless other treasures in their collections and institutional records.

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Kai Bird, Executive Director

Leon Levy Center for Biography

Since its founding in 2007, the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York has promoted the genre of biography both as a rigorous academic discipline and as an art. Annually, it awards four fellowships to new writers of biography and to two PhD students writing biographical dissertations; it also sponsors an annual public lecture by a distinguished biographer and other public programs.

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The Moynihan Center

Founded in 2023 with an anchor grant from the Leon Levy Foundation, the Moynihan Center at The City College of New York advances the twin goals of public scholarship and public service, taking inspiration from the celebrated career of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The Center hosts two signature fellowships and a rich slate of public events, cultivating leaders who cross the boundaries between critical thinking, public service practice, and popular communication.

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by Dan Komoda

Institute for Advanced Study

As Trustees of IAS, first Leon Levy and now Shelby White have taken a deep interest in the Institute’s unique community of scholars. The Foundation has permanently endowed the Institute Director position, now held by Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor, and has supported Members in social science, economics, and political science. A 2009 gift created the Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, and ongoing support from the Foundation underwrites landscape design across the Institute’s campus.

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Student at Taj Mahal

IFA - Support For Outstanding Artists, Scholars and Students

The Foundation provides summer travel grants to students seeking an advanced degree in art history, archaeology or conservation at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, that allow them to see first-hand art and architecture of scholarly interest. Previous support in this area went to artists in all disciplines who won residencies at the MacDowell Colony.

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Operating Support

Along with support for specific projects, the Foundation provides more than $1,000,000 each year in unrestricted grants to many important NYC organizations within the Foundation’s program areas. This core support, for basic essential costs like rent, staff and technology, allows organizations to sustain programs needed to carry out their basic missions, especially in times of crisis.

Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art

The Foundation recently awarded $4 million to establish a permanent curatorial position, the Elizabeth Moynihan Curator for South and Southeast Asian Art. The remaining $500,000 will be used to establish the Elizabeth Moynihan Research Fund for South Asian Art, providing essential funding for curatorial research. The award is honoring Leon Levy Foundation trustee, Elizabeth Moynihan, an architectural historian with a deep knowledge of India, the Mughal dynasty, and its exquisite gardens.