Queen Sofía Spanish Institute was founded as The Spanish Institute in 1954 to promote greater awareness and understanding of the culture of the Spanish-speaking world in the United States, and was renamed in November 2003 to recognize the support given to the Institute by Her Majesty Queen Sofía of Spain.
The Institute primarily strengthens its mission through cultural and educational activities, including lectures, symposia and book presentations addressing topics of current international interest in public affairs, business, science, and the arts.
Queen Sofía Spanish Institute has maintained an especially strong commitment to the fine arts by exhibiting major masters and newly emerging artists from Spain, the Americas, and Europe. International acclaim has surrounded exhibitions ranging from Iberian Antiquities to shows on Francisco de Zurbarán, Francisco de Goya, Joaquín Sorolla, Ignacio Zuloaga, Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, Pablo Picasso, Cristóbal Balenciaga, and Santiago Calatrava, to name a few.
The annual Queen Sofía Spanish Institute Gold Medal Gala was established in 1978 to recognize individuals who have contributed to the international appreciation of Spain and Ibero-America through their achievements in such varied disciplines as international relations, science, business, the arts, literature, and philanthropy.
As a not-for-profit American organization, the Institute is supported by the Board of Directors, friends of the Institute, individual and corporate memberships, as well as foundation and corporate grants. The Gold Medal Gala is also one of its major sources of funding.
The Institute is located at 684 Park Avenue in a McKim, Mead & White neo-Federal townhouse. The building was built in 1926 as a residence for Oliver D. Filley, son-in-law of Percy R. Pyne and was donated to the Institute in 1965 by Margaret Rockefeller Strong, Marquesa de Cuevas. It became a Landmark in 1980.