Jean Stern, Executive Director of the Irvine Museum Collection at the University of California, Irvine, recently received the prestigious Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) award.
The award honors those who have made important contributions to the arts in France or to France’s cultural and artistic legacy. Established by the Minister of Culture in 1957 and confirmed by President Charles de Gaulle in 1963, it is the most significant arts-specific honor conferred by the French government. In receiving the award, Mr. Stern joins the company of cultural forces like T.S. Eliot, Philip Glass, Václav Havel, Rudolf Nureyev, Marion Cotillard, and Meryl Streep.
The Irvine Museum Collection at UCI is home to a significant collection of California Impressionist works, which Mr. Stern explains are an important descendant of the larger Impressionist movement. In exhibits, and in the museum’s seventeen published works on California Impressionist style and history, “we stress that it’s an extension of French Impressionism,” he says. An exhibit from the museum, called Masters of Light, toured in Paris, Krakow, and Madrid from 2002 to 2004, giving visitors a firsthand look at France’s cultural and artistic influence in California.
The French Consul presented the award to Mr. Stern during a medal ceremony at the museum earlier this month.