Dear SACI Community,
It is with great sadness that we write with news of the death of Mary Beckinsale, former president and matriarch of SACI. Mary passed away suddenly and was taken too soon from us on Sunday, September 22, 2019.
Mary touched the lives of so many people in the city of Florence and beyond. Her life was exemplary in every way with a deep moral conscience and love for humanity. Her intellect was an inspiration to all who knew her, propelling her on a never-ending quest to unearth and reveal new perspectives about art and life.
Her extraordinary lifetime of scholarship, teaching and directing institutions began with receiving an MA with honors from Cambridge University, followed by a Masters in Philosophy in Cultural Studies at the prestigious Warburg Institute, University of London. She was later awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Art from Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in 2010 for her tireless pursuit of excellence, internationalism, creative freedom, and public service.
Mary was director of the American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS) in Florence, Italy, in 1984-1985 before joining SACI as Dean, a position she held until 1995 when she rose to Director of SACI. With a passion for social causes and community engagement, in 2001 she created the SACI Onlus, which provided free art courses and workshops to socially disadvantaged people. She was instrumental in organizing numerous SACI conservation projects in Florence and elsewhere in Tuscany, including the restoration of the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, severely damaged by the flood of 1966. Under her leadership, SACI expanded its course and academic program offerings and acquired two beautiful historical properties in the center of Florence—the Palazzo dei Cartelloni in 1999 and the SACI Jules Maidoff Palazzo for the Visual Arts in 2006. In 2006, Mary became President of SACI until she retired in 2013.
We are devastated by this significant loss to SACI and our community. Our hearts go out to Mary’s family and friends. All of us in the SACI family already miss her.
A funeral service for Mary will be held at 10 am on Saturday, September 28 at the Church of Sant’Ambrogio, Piazza Sant'Ambrogio, Florence.
In lieu of flowers, the family has designated the Meyer Pediatric Hospital for memorial contributions.
Steven J. Brittan, SACI President