Professor Philip J. DiNovo is the Founder and President of the esteemed American Italian Heritage Association and the American Italian Heritage Museum in Albany, New York. He has also been knighted by the Italian Government and is a respected figure in America’s Italian community

May 2023
I have some fantastic news to impart as well as my desire to pose a serious challenge. First, it gives me great pleasure to inform you that Mary F. Finley left in her estate a very generous donation to our museum. Mary was born in Amsterdam, New York on June 21, 1935 and was the daughter of the late Sofia and Orizio Dinovellis. She was a long-time member and loyal supporter of our organization. Mary moved to the Villages, FL, from Albany, NY in 2010. Unfortunately, she suffered from cancer and I kept in touch with her as a friend. I sent her upbeat messages and told her I was praying for her daily. She passed into eternal rest on December 15, 2022. Her donation will go into our Endowment Fund, a designated room will be named for her and a plaque in her honor will be placed outside of the room. I am so grateful to Mary who while she lived made many important contributions to the Italian American community. Her extremely welcome donation will benefit future generations because it will help the museum to preserve the treasures which are held within our walls. Mary left a legacy to be remembered for generations.

The museum’s elevator (outside) door became inoperable, so we just wrote out a check for $5,976.00 for a new replacement. Here’s an interesting fact: it would take 239 paid-up memberships just to cover the payment for replacing that door! Acknowledging that we are not alone, inflation is hitting us hard and the cost of maintaining three old buildings is becoming increasingly expensive. I am getting on in years as are a number of our outstanding volunteers. Soon, we will have to pay for many services that are currently being done by those aforementioned members. As the Founder of the AIHA&M I have seen the blood, sweat and tears that it has taken to get to where we are today. Just think about how it took us five years to remodel the museum building. Add to that the years-long wait before we would be able to effectively use the second floor of the museum building. Over the years we have had to face so many challenges and it is only by the grace of God that we are even here today. It would be an understatement to say that it has not been easy. We have so many precious artifacts, photos, documents, items, etc. We are grateful to the many people who over the years have donated money, time and talent. Will our museum be able to continue? That question has to be addressed.

You must know that I take no joy in talking about our serious challenges; but, as Founder/President it is my duty to inform you of what needs to be done in order to rectify the situation. At one time our membership was comprised of three thousand families, a stark contrast to the present number which totals just 750 families. Since we don’t have enough volunteers to help us out at the museum, we have had to cut back on our hours of operation. As always, more support is required for our events. Mary’s wonderful donation and other great donations that we have received are definitely morale boosters. We are blessed to have such generous donors and volunteers. It must also be noted that our Thrift Shop is thriving and continually does a tremendous job for us along with providing a beneficial service to the community.

Now, here is the serious challenge I ask each of you to consider because we can only remain vibrant by joining forces in solving our challenges. Please do some soul searching about how important it is to you to preserve our Italian heritage. The future of the museum also depends on a large Endowment to save all that we have. What are you able & willing to do to help us solve the challenges we face? With your help I look forward to a bright future for our museum. Together, we can do this!

Prof./Cav. Philip J. DiNovo


 In honor of the Italian immigrants who came to the United States of America, we are committed to record and preserve the contributions of our Italian Heritage and culture to our society through our newsletter, cultural programs, activities, exhibits, and outreach programs.