New-York Historical Society Honored Filmmakers Ken Burns and Ric Burns
at Its Annual History Makers Gala on September 26, 2016

On Monday, September 26, 2016, Ken Burns and Ric Burns were honored with the distinguished 2016 History Makers Award during the New-York Historical Society’s annual History Makers Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street. Wynton Marsalis, recipient of the 2012 History Maker Award, closed the evening with a special musical performance. More than 470 people were in attendance.

“It was a privilege to honor Ken Burns and Ric Burns with this year’s History Makers Award,” said New-York Historical Society President and CEO Dr. Louise Mirrer. “Through their remarkable body of work, they have brought history to life for millions of Americans, allowing us to discover essential truths about the founding of our nation and our city while helping us remember the struggles and triumphs that have taken place along the way. I can’t imagine a better ‘prologue’ than listening to Ken Burns and Ric Burns before the first presidential debate!”

This year’s gala raised nearly $2.5 million dollars, which benefit programs of the New-York Historical Society, including its major Museum exhibitions and its historical education programs for more than 200,000 New York City public school students. Past recipients of the History Maker Award include Ron Chernow and Lin-Manuel Miranda (2015), Hillary Clinton (2014), David Petraeus (2013), Wynton Marsalis (2012), and Henry Kissinger (2011), among others. 

Gala Chairs
Anonymous, Helen and Robert Appel, Diana and Joseph A. DiMenna, Pam and Scott Schafler, Rosalind P. Walter

Gala Co-Chairs
Norman S. Benzaquen, Lois Chiles and Richard Gilder, Ravenel B. Curry III, Elizabeth B. Dater, Barbara and Richard Debs, Brian P. Friedman, Buzzy Geduld, Kristin R. Gervasio and Stuart J. Rabin, Ahuva and Martin J. Gross, Susan and Roger Hertog, Patricia D. and John Klingenstein, Barbara and Ira A. Lipman, Paula and Tom McInerney, Suzanne F. Peck, Bonnie and Richard Reiss, Jr., Michelle Smith, Sue Ann Weinberg, Leah and Michael Weisberg

Honorable guests included Helen and Robert Appel, Denise and Carter Bays, Renée and Robert Belfer, Norman Benzaquen and Judy Zankel, Merilee and Roy Bostock, Ken Burns, Ric Burns, Lois Chiles and Richard Gilder, Anita Contini, Julie and Jim Dale, Joseph A. DiMenna, Roy Furman, Arlyn and Edward Gardner, Edythe Gladstein, Susan and Roger Hertog, the Honorable Robert Hormats and Catherine Hormats, Patricia. D. Klingenstein, Kate Levin, Federica Marchionni, Wynton Marsalis, Louise Mirrer, Jennifer and John Monsky, Jonathan Moses and Abby Young, Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner, Lynn Novick, Morris Offit, Suzanne F. Peck and Brian P. Friedman, Joan and Joel Picket, Bonnie and Richard Reiss, Carol and Larry Saper, Pam and Scott Schafler, Melanie Shorin and Greg Feldman, Michelle Smith, Gillian and Robert Steel, Robert A.M. Stern, Laurie and Sy Sternberg, Ann and Andrew Tisch, Lacey Tisch and Jonathan Schulman, Laurie Tisch, Geoffrey Ward, Sue Ann Weinberg, Leah and Michael Weisberg, Anita Wien

2016 Honorees
Ken Burns
has been making documentary films for almost forty years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Burns has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War; Baseball; Jazz; The Statue of Liberty; Huey Long; Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery; Frank Lloyd Wright; Mark Twain; Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson; The War; The National Parks: America’s Best Idea; The Roosevelts: An Intimate History; Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies; and Jackie Robinson.

Burns’ films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including fifteen Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, and two Oscar nominations. In September 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, he was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Burns has been called the “greatest documentarian of the day” and “the most influential filmmaker period.” The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of his films, “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.”

Future projects include The Vietnam War, as well as films on the history of country music, Ernest Hemingway, and the history of stand-up comedy.

Ric Burns is a documentary filmmaker and writer, best known for his epic eight-part series New York: A Documentary Film. Burns has been writing, directing, and producing historical documentaries for over twenty-five years, since his collaboration on the PBS series The Civil War, which he produced with his brother, Ken, and co-wrote with Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken. Since founding Steeplechase Films in 1989, he has directed some of the most distinguished programs for PBS, including Coney Island, The Donner Party, The Way West, Ansel Adams, Eugene O’NeillAndy Warhol, We Shall Remain: Tecumseh’s Vision, Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World, Death and the Civil War, American Ballet Theatre: A History, Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History, and The Pilgrims.  

His work has won numerous film and television awards including six Emmy Awards; two George Foster Peabody Awards; two Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards; three Writer’s Guild of America Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Writing; the Erik Barnouw Award of the Organization of American Historians; and the D.W. Griffith Award of the National Board of Review.

Burns has several upcoming projects, including The Chinese Exclusion Act, Driving While Black: African Americans on the Road in the Era of Jim Crow, The Department of Veterans Affairs: A History, and Oliver Sacks: His Own Life.

About the New-York Historical Society
Founded in 1804, the New-York Historical Society has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City, state, and the country, as well as to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.

New-York Historical is recognized for engaging the public with deeply researched and far-ranging exhibitions, such as Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America; Slavery in New York; Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School at the New-York Historical Society; Lincoln and New York; The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New-York Historical Society; Nueva York; WWII & NYC; The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution; Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion; Superheroes in Gotham; and The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman. Supporting these exhibitions and related education programs is one of the world’s greatest collections of historical artifacts, works of American art, and other materials documenting the history of the United States and New York.

This fall, New-York Historical presents The Battle of Brooklyn (September 23, 2016 – January 8, 2017), examining the first major armed campaign for the colonies after they declared independence from Great Britain, and Campaigning for the Presidency, 1960-1972: Selections from the Museum of Democracy (August 26 – November 27, 2016), which follows the change in tone and aesthetics of 1960s political ephemera and reflects contemporary developments in campaign strategy.

Press Contacts
Ines Aslan, (212) 485-9263,
Julia Esposito, (212) 715-1643,

Thursday, September 29, 2016
Creative: Tronvig Group