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Maya Lin awarded 2018 Ken Burns American Heritage Prize

NEW YORK, NY — American Prairie is proud to announce that artist, designer, and environmentalist Maya Lin accepted the 2018 Ken Burns American Heritage Prize at an event held the evening of May 2 at the American Museum of Natural History. 

Writer, actress, and producer Tina Fey set the stage for Ken Burns, referring to him as “America’s Storyteller,” and noting that his nominations, awards, and accolades are “but a hint of the level of regard in which he is held by educators, historians, authors, his peers in the film industry, and Americans across the nation.” Ms. Fey continued, “his passion for his craft is exceeded only by his admiration for those who have made us what we are.”

L to R: George Matelich, Tina Fey, Ken Burns, Maya Lin, Alison Fox.
Photo by Light of Blue Photography. 

Mr. Burns's tribute began by sharing that the Prize “seeks to recognize extraordinary women and men whose body of work, in multiple disciplines, has advanced the understanding of America– and the capacity of Americans to accomplish extraordinary things.”

He introduced Ms. Lin noting her many acclaimed works, including her Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, her Women’s Table sculpture at Yale University, and her iconic Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., among others. Mr. Burns commented on her current work, What Is Missing?, sharing that the project is “a monumental endeavor dedicated to inspiring all of us to protect and preserve nature’s fleeting treasures.”

The Prize bronze awarded to Ms. Lin. Photo by Light of Blue Photography. 

“Her dedication to the natural world intersects with American Prairie Reserve’s ambitious goals. As Maya and What is Missing? shine a light on threatened species and ecosystems, American Prairie Reserve’s mission is to protect one of our continent’s greatest biomes, our grasslands.” Mr. Burns said.

Ms. Lin took the stage noting that the nomination and subsequent award of the Prize as a “magical coincidence,” she said, “I have been obsessed with the story of the grasslands for ten or fifteen years, so when I got the call, I was so honored.”

Ms. Lin continued by graciously dedicating the prize money to both her What Is Missing? Foundation and American Prairie Reserve. She closed her acceptance by stating, “I am proud of receiving this award from American Prairie Reserve, whose amazing visionary goal of restoring our vast American prairie is a magical dream that we all can share and make a reality.”

L to R: George Matelich, Maya Lin, and Ken Burns. Photo by Marta Skovro.

Ms. Lin received the honor from Mr. Burns and others during the Prize presentation event on May 2, 2018, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. 

The evening’s festivities included remarks by Tina Fey, Ken Burns, and Maya Lin, as well as American Prairie Reserve’s CEO Alison Fox and Board of Directors Chair George Matelich, and Ken Burns American Heritage Prize National Jury Chair David Rubenstein, and Vice Chair Dawn Arnall.