Photo credit: Chris Myers

Culture and education

First Nominee


Rebecca Alban Hoffberger

Founder, Director, and Principal Curator

American Visionary Art Museum

Rebecca Alban Hoffberger is the founder, director, and principal curator of the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM). A life-long devotee of the power of intuition and fresh thought, Hoffberger was accepted into college at age 15, though chose instead mime Marcel Marceau's personal invitation to become his first American apprentice in Paris. By 19, she had co-founded her own ballet company and by 21, was a sought-after consultant to a broad spectrum of nonprofits, including research and development scientific companies. At 25, Hoffberger was awarded the title of “Dame” for her work to establish medical field hospitals in Nigeria. She studied alternative and folk medicine in Mexico. Returning to the States, Hoffberger served on the Board of the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Center in Virginia and worked as Development Director at the Sinai Hospital Department of Psychiatry for People Encouraging People, where she first conceived her unique national visionary museum/education center.


In recognition of distinguished achievement in the museum field, Hoffberger was awarded the 2011 Katherine Coffey Award by the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums. Hoffberger has received Honorary Doctorates from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Stevenson University, Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, and McDaniel College, as well as awarded Loyola College's Andrew White Award—the school’s highest civic honor—the College of Notre Dame Sarah's Circle Award, and selected as Franklin & Marshall College's Conrad Nelson Lecturer. She is an inductee into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame, a winner of the Urban Land Institute's National Award for Excellence, Israel Bonds' Golda Meir Award, and the first recipient of the Sir Arthur C. Clarke Vision and Imagination Award. Among many honors in recognition of her human rights activism, Hoffberger has won the On Our Own mental health national anti-stigma Visionary Award, the Urban League's Whitney M. Young, Jr. Honoree for Outstanding Community Involvement & Support for Equal Opportunity, Maryland YWCA President's Award, and was principal curator celebrating playwright's Eve Ensler's BIG LOVE New Orleans 10th Anniversary of “The Vagina Monologues” that had raised $50 million to help global women anti-violence programs. Hoffberger's Seven Education Goals provided the founding mission for the young activist organization, The Lower Eastside Girls Club, New York City. She has been an international keynote conference speaker at the Tate Modern and at India's Rock Garden.


Of her more recent honors, they include the prestigious Visionary Award from the American Folk Art Museum in 2017, the 2019 Images and Voices of Hope Journalism Award, induction into the Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame, and the 2019 Roger D. Redden Award from the Baltimore Architecture Foundation for her “significant role and many accomplishments in advancing Baltimore’s built environment and cultural community through the American Visionary Art Museum." In 2020, The Daily Record bestowed her with an Icon Award.


The titles to Rebecca's exhibitions sum up beautifully both her personal philosophy and passion: "ALL FAITHS BEAUTIFUL: From Atheism to Zoroastrianism, Respect for Diversity of Belief," "The Marriage of Art, Science & Philosophy," and "Race, Class & Gender: Three things that contribute '0' to CHARACTER, because being a schmuck is an equal opportunity for everyone!”

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