Brendan Gill Prize

Established in 1987 in honor of Brendan Gill, renowned New Yorker theater and architecture critic and long-time MAS Board Member

The Brendan Gill Prize is given each year to the creator of a specific work—a book, essay, musical composition, play, painting, sculpture, architectural design, film, or choreographic piece—that best captures the spirit and energy of New York City. The prize was established in 1987 in honor of Brendan Gill by friend and fellow MAS board member Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis along with board members Helen Tucker and Margot Wellington.

View photos from the 2023 Brendan Gill Prize ceremony on Flickr.

  • Brendan Gill, Arthur Ross, and Kent Barwick at party
    Left to right: Brendan Gill, Arthur Ross, and Kent Barwick (1988)
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  • 2023 Brendan Gill Prize Winner: Charles Gaines for "The American Manifest: Chapter 1." Times Square, New York NY, presented by Creative Time. © Charles Gaines. Courtesy Times Square Arts. Photo: Michael Hull.
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  • 2021 Brendan Gill Prize Honoree: John Wilson for "How To with John Wilson, Season 1." Photo: Zach Dilgard/HBO.
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  • 2020 Brendan Gill Prize winner: Julia Wolfe for "Fire in my mouth." Photo by Chris Lee.
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  • still from the movie Crime and Punishment, characters walk in a group
    2019 Brendan Gill Prize winner: Stephen Maing for "Crime + Punishment." Movie still courtesy of Stephen Maing.
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  • 2018 Brendan Gill Prize winner: Julia Wertz for "Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City." Image courtesy of Julia Wertz.
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  • 2017 Brendan Gill Prize winner: Matthew “Levee” Chavez for Subway Therapy. Photo by Wikimedia Commons, Allison Meier. Modifications: photo cropped.
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  • 2017 Brendan Gill Prize Honorees: Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, "Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas." Image: University of California Press.
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  • 2016 Brendan Gill Prize Honorees: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alex Lacamoire, Thomas Kail, and Andy Blankenbuehler for "Hamilton: An American Musical." Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Ajay Suresh. Modifications: photo cropped.
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  • 2016 Brendan Gill Prize Honoree: Frederick Wiseman, Filmmaker, for "Inside Jackson Heights." Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Antoine Yar. Modifications: photo cropped.
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  • Jean Cooney talked to the New York Arts Practicum about the Kara Walker show at the Domino sugar factory. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Arts Practicum. Modifications: photo cropped.
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2024 Call for Nominations

The call for nominations for the 2024 Brendan Gill Prize have closed, the winner will be announced this spring. Email with any questions.

2023 Ceremony

On September 26, 2023, MAS presented the 2023 Brendan Gill Prize to conceptual artist Charles Gaines for his 2022 public art project The American Manifest: Chapter 1. View photos from the event on Flickr and a video on YouTube.

2024 Jury

  • John Haworth (Brendan Gill Prize Jury Chair), Senior Executive Emeritus, National Museum of the American Indian/NY, Smithsonian Institution
  • Randall Bourscheidt, Director, Archive of New York City Cultural Policy
  • Roz Chast, Cartoonist & Author, The New Yorker
  • Patricia Cruz, Artistic Director and CEO, Harlem Stage
  • Gail Gregg, Artist and Journalist
  • Cassim Shepard, Urbanist, Filmmaker, and Author
  • Laurie Beckelman, Not-for-Profit Consultant

2024 Guest Jury Members

  • Gonzalo Casals, Senior Research and Policy Fellow, Arts and Culture at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Dario Calmese, Founder/CEO, The Institute of Black Imagination
  • Michael Unthank, Independent Arts Consultant


  • 2023 – Charles Gaines, The American Manifest: Chapter 1
  • 2021 – John Wilson, How To with John Wilson
  • 2020 – Julia Wolfe, Fire in my mouth

    Special Recognition Honoree: Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, Contested City: Art & Public History as Mediation at New York’s Seward Park Urban Renewal Area
    Special Recognition Honoree: Thomas J. Campanella, Brooklyn: The Once and Future City
    Special Recognition Honoree: Stanley Greenberg, CODEX New York; Typologies of the City
    Special Recognition Honoree: Eric K. Washington, Boss of the Grips: The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal

  • 2019 – Stephen Maing, Crime + Punishment
  • 2018 – Melissa Rachleff, Inventing Downtown: Artist–Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965 – Julia Wertz, Tenements, Towers, & Trash: An Unconventional Ilustrated History of New York
  • 2017 – Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas – Matthew “Levee” Chavez, Subway Therapy
  • 2016 – Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alex Lacamoire, Thomas Kail, and Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton: An American Musical – Frederick Wiseman, Inside Jackson Heights
  • 2015 – Kara Walker, A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby; an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of th – New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant
  • 2014 – Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times articles on Penn Station
  • 2013 – Louis Kahn (posthumously), Four Freedoms Park
  • 2011 – John Morse, Curbside Haiku
  • 2010 – Michael Van Valkenburgh, Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • 2009 – Mike and Doug Starn, See it change, see it split
  • 2008 – Sufjan Stevens, The BQE
  • 2007 – Sarah Jones, Bridge & Tunnel
  • 2006 – Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Gates, Central Park
  • 2005 – Yoshio Taniguchi, The new Museum of Modern Art
  • 2004 – Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Random Family – Warren Lehrer and Judith Sloan, Crossing the BLVD: Strangers, Neighbors, Aliens in a New America
  • 2003 – John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Richard Nash Gould, Julian LaVerdiere, Paul Marantz, and Paul Myoda, Tribute in Light
  • 2002 – Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associate, American Folk Art Museum – Alice Rose George, Gilles Peress, Michael Shulan, and Charles Traub, Here is New York exhibit
  • 2001 – Christopher Wheeldon, Mercurial Manoeuvres – Honorable Mention: MTA Arts for Transit, For Want of a Nail
  • 2000 – Mauren Hackett, Herald and Greeley Square Parks – Honorable Mention: Allison Prete, Lavender Lake: Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal – Honorable Mention: John Kuo Wie Then, New York Before Chinatown
  • 1999 – Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham – Honorable Mention: Phillip Lopate, Writing New York: A Literary Anthology
  • 1998 – Frederick Fisher, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center – Honorable Mention: Susan Tunick and Peter Mauss, Terra Cotta Skyline – Honorable Mention: Milo Mottola, Riverbank State Park Carousel
  • 1997 – George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover, Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk
  • 1996 – Hugh Hardy, New York Victory Theatre
  • 1995 – Louis Malle and André Gregory, Vanya on 42nd Street
  • 1994 – Ang Lee, The Wedding Banquet
  • 1993 – Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel
  • 1992 – John Yau and Bill Barrette, Big City Primer: Reading New York at the End of the Twentieth Century
  • 1991 – David Hammons, High Falutin’
  • 1990 – Gran Fury, Kissing Doesn’t Kill; Greed and Indifference Do
  • 1989 – Kevin Roche, Central Park Zoo
  • 1988 – Rudolph Burckhardt, film series at the Museum of Modern Art

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Establishing the Brendan Gill Prize

MAS establishes the annual Brendan Gill Prize, which honors the creator of a specific work of art produced in the previous year that best captures the spirit and energy of New York City. The inaugural prize is given to Rudolph Burckhardt for a film series at MoMA.

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