Congratulations Jane!

TF’s own becomes Doctor of Humane Letters

Editorial Staff
June 3, 2010

Cultural editor at the The Florentine and much (much) more, Jane Fortune is a woman of two continents and many causes. Whether at her home in Indianapolis or her residence in Florence, Italy, she is a champion of the arts who has led efforts to celebrate women artists, encourage students, and share the arts as broadly as possible. In recognition of her work, drive and spirit, Fortune was recently awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at Indiana University for her many accomplishments as an author, art historian and philanthropist.


An author, art historian, and philanthropist, Fortune is passionate about recognizing the accomplishments of women artists, past and present. She serves on the national advisory board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), and she has founded two organizations that support restoring and promoting artwork created by women: the NMWA's Florence Committee and Advancing Women Artists.


Her 2009 book, Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence, published by the TF Press, she highlights works by women artists that are in Florence museums. Both alone and with other donors, Fortune has underwritten the restoration of numerous works by Italian artists, including those of Suor Plautilla Nelli, Florence's first known woman painter.


When William W. McIlhenny, a former U.S. consul general in Florence and current State Department official, thinks of Fortune's advocacy, he remembers a gathering of women museum directors and curators that she organized.


'The evening was suffused with energy and emotion,' he says. 'Participant after participant noted that this was the first time that anyone had honored and recognized so specifically the extraordinary role that women play in the preservation of cultural heritage in Tuscany-heritage that, in time, helped shape the esthetic of the West and the entire world. It was a connection so logical, so obvious, so due, that it had never happened-until Jane came along.'


Educated at Western College for Women, Villa Mercedes in Florence, and Rosemont College, Fortune is a strong supporter of young artists, particularly at the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis. Her generosity was vital to the acquisition and permanent installation of the sculpture Job at Herron, and a Herron lecture series named in her honor brings a prominent woman artist to campus each year. A member of Herron's Dean's Advisory Board, Fortune received the IUPUI Spirit of Philanthropy Award in 2008.


Fortune shares her artistic spirit in many other ways as well. She is cultural editor of The Florentine, an English-language newspaper in Florence, and she authored To Florence, Con Amore: 77 Ways to Love the City, published by the TF Press. She advocates accessibility to the arts and funded a program at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) that earned her the 2007 Accessibility Award from the Indianapolis Mayor's Advisory Council on Disabilities. And she is involved with several arts and nonprofit organizations, including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) Women's Board and the IMA, where she is a member of the board of governors and a sustaining life trustee.

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