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F(l-r) Beverley Sherrid, First Vice-President and

Co-chair of the Fall Benefit; Dr. Helen Evans, holding specially inscribed majolica bowl presented to her; Sharon W. Vaino, President General. (AUDREY SVENSSON)

Brantley C. B. Knowles

Museum luminary Dr. Helen C. Evans was the designated honoree at the October 2012 Colonial Dames of America (CDA) soiree which benefitted The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden (Museum). A former President General of the CDA, Dr. Evans is a specialist in Early Christian, Byzantine, Armenian and Crusader Art. She is the Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator for Byzantine Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she has been a member of the curatorial staff since 1991. Dr. Evans opened the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries in 2000, which were the first galleries for Byzantine Art at a major, international museum.

The elegant Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium, adjacent to the Museum, was the venue for the CDA fundraising event. The honor bestowed on Dr. Evans followed the prior years’ practice of honoring a stellar individual for outstanding work in the community and beyond, mirroring the educational and historic preservation focus of the CDA. The Benefit featured an interview by Fall Benefit Co-chair Beverley Sherrid focusing on Dr. Evans’ fascinating career, with slides of exotic sites in the Middle East and Central Asia to which Dr. Evans’ work has taken her. Guests could purchase an extensive, richly illustrated and personally autographed catalogue from Dr. Evans’ most recent special exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum, Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition.​

Gay Hart Gaines (l), Christine “Binkie” McSweeney Orthwein (r). (CHRISTOPHER ORTHWEIN)

Proceeds from the fundraiser support the education programs of the Museum, which is the eighth-oldest building in Manhattan (1799). The building, located on East 61st Street, was purchased by the CDA in 1924, and opened as a museum in 1939 at the time of the New York World’s Fair. Although the building had served a number of different purposes during its more than 200 years of existence, in interpreting it as a museum the CDA most recently took it back to the period from 1826 to 1833, when the building operated as the Mount Vernon Hotel. Guests could escape the crowded city south of 14th Street and take a boat trip or carriage ride to this day hotel, where leisure activities awaited them. A true treasure, the Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973.

Mrs. Gaines has served as a Vice-Regent, representing the State of Florida, on the Board of George Washington’s Mount Vernon since the year 2000. She served as Regent, head of the Board, during a highly successful campaign that built the Ford Orientation Center and the Donald W. Reynolds Education Center and Museum, thus creating a dynamic educational experience for schoolchildren and adults alike. Mrs. Gaines has served in key leadership roles in a number of organizations, including the Board of Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to which she was appointed by President George W. Bush. Mrs. Gaines was presented a CDA recognition pin by Christine “Binkie” McSweeney Orthwein (Mrs. Christopher D. Orthwein) of CDA Chapter XVII - Palm Beach.

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