The Courtauld Institute of Art receives a major 2.5M endowment gift from AKO
Foundation funding a new academic research post

  • The AKO Foundation has donated a major £2.5 million gift to support academic excellence at The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • This endowment is made courtesy of AKO’s founder, Courtauld alumnus Nicolai Tangen
  • The gift was made as a testament to Dr. Shulamith Behr, Honorary Research Fellow, who ran Mr. Tangen’s MA course in Art History
  • The endowment will support the study of European Art of the 20th Century by creating a post within the Institute
  • Dr. Robin Schuldenfrei will be the first to hold this post
  • For more information contact

The Courtauld Institute of Art is proud to announce that a major gift has been received from the AKO Foundation to create a fund to support an academic post at The Courtauld. This gift makes a major contribution to The Courtauld’s campaign to increase its endowment fund to £50m (from its current £36m), making a significant contribution to the Institute’s long-term sustainability and excellence.   

The gift was made by AKO’s founder, Courtauld alumnus Mr Nicolai Tangen (MA, 2005), with the primary purpose of supporting the study of European art of the 20th century. Tangen was taught by Dr Shulamith Behr, now Honorary Research Fellow at The Courtauld. His experience studying under Dr. Behr made a profound impact on his experience, such that he has made this gift in her honour to continue The Courtauld’s research and teaching in the field of 20th Century European Art.

The very first holder of the post is Dr Robin Schuldenfrei, Katja and Nicolai Tangen Lecturer in 20th Century European Art, whose MA course this year is entitled Experiencing Modernism: Utopia, Functionalism and Time of Turmoil. This is Robin’s first year at The Courtauld where her course will interrogate German modern architecture and design in the first half of the twentieth century.

Nicolai Tangen, Founder of AKO Foundation said:
“I believe that The Courtauld sets the global standard for the study of Art History and Conservation – subjects that I firmly believe are essential for the safekeeping of the great international collections for generations to come, enabling others to enjoy our rich visual heritage. I hope that my endowment will ensure The Courtauld continues to develop and sustain its reputation for excellence, and train the visual art leaders of the future. 

An endowment provides the ability to directly support the academic goals and aspirations of many individuals and enriches their lives for years to come. I am delighted that AKO Foundation, a charity that I set up to benefit education and the arts, is able to contribute to the vibrant academic life of The Courtauld.”

Dr. Shulamith Behr, Honorary Research Fellow added:
"The news of this gift is highly gratifying and humbling. I recall Nicolai Tangen as an extremely valuable member of the MA group of 2004-5, who was modest and in no way made us aware of his remarkable achievements in the financial world. He was also a committed researcher and his dissertation on the innovative graphic work of Rolf Nesch, in Hamburg and in exile in Norway, brought new evidence to bear on this second-generation Expressionist. I am thrilled that the Courtauld will benefit from such generosity. Therein, Nicolai acknowledges the enshrined values of both teaching and research that the Institute endeavours to uphold."

Dr. Robin Schuldenfrei, Katja and Nicolai Tangen Lecturer in 20th Century European Art said:
“This is a truly inspiring gift in that it honours the wonderful impact of Shulamith Behr on her students while celebrating teaching and learning into the future. I am thrilled to have joined The Courtauld and look forward to teaching many future generations of Courtauld students under the aegis of this post.”
Emma Davidson, Director of Development at The Courtauld Institute of Art said:
“We are overwhelmed by this generosity and excited about what the gift will help us to achieve well into the future. Our heartfelt thanks go to Nicolai and Katja Tangen and the AKO Foundation.”

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The Courtauld Institute
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About The Courtauld Institute
The Courtauld Institute of Art is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of the history and conservation of art and architecture, and its Gallery houses one of Britain’s best-loved collections.  Based at Somerset House, The Courtauld is an independent college of the University of London. The Director of the Institute is Professor Deborah Swallow who reports to the Governing Board. The Chairman is James Hughes-Hallett.

Degree programmes on offer include a BA, Graduate Diploma and MA in the History of Art; a Postgraduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings; an MA in Painting Conservation (Wall Painting); an MA in Curating the Art Museum (new for 2007-08); and MPhil and PhD research degrees.

Facilities for students are exceptional, including outstanding libraries and The Courtauld Gallery collection of paintings, drawings and prints, and sculpture and decorative arts. Courtauld staff supervise research from Antiquity to the present, and the Research Forumoffers access to visiting speakers from around the world.

Public lectures, short courses and lunchtime talks allow members of the public to share in the wealth of expertise at The Courtauld.

About The Courtauld Gallery (
The Courtauld Gallery is one of London’s must-see art museums. Its collection stretches from the early Renaissance to the 20th century and beyond. It is housed in the elegant setting of Somerset House, one of the city’s most dynamic cultural venues. The Courtauld Gallery is renowned for its unrivalled Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including masterpieces by Monet, Van Gogh and Gauguin and the largest collection of Cézannes in the UK. It houses a major collection of Old Master paintings and is one of the few museums in the country to display such a rich selection of early twentieth-century art. The Gallery also holds an outstanding collection of drawings and prints and fine works of sculpture and decorative arts.
The Courtauld Gallery regularly presents major exhibitions and special displays which are consistently acclaimed for their outstanding quality and originality.
The Gallery is at the heart of The Courtauld Institute of Art, one of the world’s leading centres for the study of art history and conservation. It plays an important role in the capital's cultural life and is part of London's Museum Mile.

 “One of the world's great collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art”
- The Guardian

Opening Times:
Daily 10am – 6pm (last admission 5.30pm)
Late Openings until 9pm 14 August
The Drawings and Prints Room can be visited by appointment
Closed 25 and 26 December, last admission at 3.30 on 24 December

Further information:
Gallery Website:
Twitter: @CourtauldGall

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