Virtual Event

Thursday, May 13 at 7PM (pt)



in conversation with Staci Gem Scheiwiller

How a unique alliance between two women in the 1970s led to the acquisition of a treasure trove of modern art now worth billions.


In the 1970s, American curator Donna Stein served as an art advisor to Empress Farah Diba Pahlavi, the Shahbanu of Iran. This unique alliance led to the acquisition of a treasure trove of modern art now worth billions. Today, the contemporary section of the Iranian National Collection--most of which continues to languish in storage--is considered one of the most significant collections of modern art outside of Europe and the United States.

The Empress and I is a vivid account of Stein's experience at the height of this storied intercultural initiative In crafting her highly readable narrative, Stein cites a number of previously confidential documents, including private correspondence with artists and dealers and an historic interview from 1990 with the Empress.


This text explores the relationship between two women united by their shared passion for the arts and the continued legacy of their partnership in today's art world.

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Donna Stein is an art historian, curator, and critic who was educated at The University of California at Los Angeles and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. She was trained by the legendary Walter Hopps at the Pasadena Art Museum and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. After a six-year stint at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Ms. Stein served as art adviser on western modern art for the Secretariat of Her Imperial Majesty, the Shahbanou of Iran.

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in conversation

Staci Gem Scheiwiller is Associate Professor of Modern Art History in the Art Department at California State University, Stanislaus. She received her Ph.D. in the History of Art from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2009. Her field is Modern and Contemporary Art with an emphasis in Iranian art and photography and a minor field in Islamic Art. She is currently writing her second monograph, in which she continues her research on gender and sexuality in nineteenth-century Iranian photography, hopefully composing the most feminist manifesto on this topic.