Renaissance – Essay Example

The Rockefellers: the Modern Medici The Medici were famous for their resilient and sometimes profligate efforts to fund works of art and architecture. As a family of great means, political power, and social connections, the Medici combined authority, culture, and wealth. They built churches and gave shelter and protection to men like Galileo Galilei when the Church wanted nothing more than to see him burned at the stake. In similar fashion today, the Rockefeller family, an historically prominent family in American society, has been a frequent patron of the arts and source of charity and funding for various works of architecture and philanthropy. Near the family manor in New York, the Rockefeller’s once donated a large patch of land which was used to create the Rockefeller State Park Preserve. “[The] tradition of philanthropy that has defined the clan as much as its vast fortune also operates [at the State Park Preserve]” (Foderaro 2007).
The renowned Rockefeller Center in New York, admittedly a for-profit commercial property, was built with family money in order to contribute to the “urban development” of Manhattan. It represented a significant investment on the part of the family for an end which ultimately was not sure to provide returns. John Rockefeller wanted the Center to be seen as a contribution from his vast wealth to better the community (Pacelle 1995). Much like the Medici before them, the Rockefellers have funded and bought countless pieces of art and have ever been known to be major players in the art collection world. For example, after founding the Asian Society in 1956, John D. Rockefeller donated for public viewing a 256 piece Asian art collection. “The permanent collection of the Asia Society is a legacy to the Rockefeller family’s dedication to sharing with the public their love of the art and culture of Asia” (Journey 2010). As wealthy patrons of the arts and as philanthropists, the Rockefellers are the modern day American Medici.
Works Cited
Foderaro, Lisa W. “Spending a Day at the Rockefellers’.” The New York Times 23 February
2007. Online at
“Journey to Asia.” 2010. Panache Privee Art Archive. 28 April 2010
Pacelle, Mitchell. “Cultural Clashes Undid Rockefeller Center.” Orlando Sentinel 28 May 1995.
Online at