Inaugurating Its First European Center of Activity, the Berggruen Institute Announces the 2021 Berggruen Prize Recipient at Its Newly Acquired Casa Dei Tre Oci in Venice

Philosopher Peter Singer Is Awarded the Institute’s $1 Million Annual Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture

Rachel S. Bauch

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Rachel Bauch
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Establishing a presence in the heart of Europe, the Berggruen Institute today held its first event in La Casa dei Tre Oci in Venice, the historic building it has now formally acquired from the Fondazione di Venezia through the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust. The Institute intends to make La Casa dei Tre Oci its center of European activity: a gathering place for global dialogue and new ideas, housing an international program of summits, workshops, symposia, and exhibitions in the visual arts and architecture.

To mark this milestone in its ten-year history, the Institute announced in La Casa dei Tre Oci that philosopher Peter Singer is the 2021 recipient of the $1 million Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture, given annually to thinkers whose ideas have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world. Peter Singer will receive the Prize in the Spring of 2022 in a ceremony to be held in Los Angeles.

Commenting on the acquisition of La Casa dei Tre Oci, Nicolas Berggruen, Chairman of the Berggruen Institute, remarked, “As Italo Calvino once wrote, ‘You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.’ We see Venice as a gateway for those seeking answers to the most pressing questions and challenges of our time—and La Casa dei Tre Oci as the nexus of the Institute’s work in developing ideas to build a better world. We are deeply grateful to take this step forward with the Fondazione di Venezia in establishing a European presence. We look forward to developing our program at the Tre Oci in the coming years.”

Michele Bugliese, President of the Fondazione di Venezia, said “I thank Nicolas Berggruen for the collaborative spirit that the Institute brought to the Fondazione di Venezia in acquiring La Casa dei Tre Oci. We celebrate the realization of a project of international stature consistent with the institutional purpose of the Fondazione and with the history and character of this building. With La Casa dei Tre Oci continuing to be the site of constructive discussion on contemporary issues, we look forward to the prospects of its future cooperation with other institutions in Venice, placing it at the center of the city’s cultural life.”

In centering its European program at La Casa dei Tre Oci, the Berggruen Institute will preserve the building’s function and identity as part of the cultural fabric of Venice. Tre Oci will attract local and international guests, policymakers and political thinkers, artists and architects, authors and scholars, scientists and technologists—across cultures, disciplines, and political boundaries—to develop and promote long-term answers to the biggest challenges of the 21st century. As part of the acquisition agreement, the Fondazione di Venezia will continue to use the Tre Oci to present its program of photography exhibitions for two years and will potentially work with the Institute on future exhibitions.

Designed as a private home and studio by the artist Mario De Maria and built on the Giudecca in 1913, the neo-Gothic Casa dei Tre Oci has a long history of hosting artists and intellectuals (including participants in the Venice Biennale) and serving as a venue for cultural meetings and debates. The Fondazione di Venezia acquired the Tre Oci in 2000, conducted a careful architectural restoration, and in 2012 reopened the building to the public as a space for photography exhibitions. In 2007, the Regional Directorate for Cultural and Landscape Heritage of the Veneto declared the Tre Oci to be an asset of historical and artistic interest.

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About the Berggruen Institute

The Berggruen Institute’s mission is to develop foundational ideas and shape political, economic, and social institutions for the 21st century. Providing critical analysis using an outwardly expansive and purposeful network, we bring together some of the best minds and most authoritative voices from across cultural and political boundaries to explore fundamental questions of our time. Our objective is enduring impact on the progress and direction of societies around the world. To date, projects inaugurated at the Berggruen Institute have helped develop a youth jobs plan for Europe, fostered a more open and constructive dialogue between Chinese leadership and the West, strengthened the ballot initiative process in California, and launched Noema, a new publication that brings thought leaders from around the world together to share ideas. In addition, the Berggruen Prize, a $1 million award, is conferred annually by an independent jury to a thinker whose ideas are shaping human self-understanding to advance humankind.