Two American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medals are awarded each year by the academy for distinguished achievement. The two awards are taken in rotation from these categories:
Belles Lettres and Criticism, and Painting;
Biography and Music;
Fiction and Sculpture;
History and Architecture, including Landscape Architecture;
Poetry and Music;
Drama and Graphic Art.
The Academy voted in 1915 to establish an additional Gold Medal for "special distinction" to be given for the entire work of the recipient who is not a member of the academy. New York Times. November 21, 1915. The first of these occasional lifetime achievement gold medals was awarded in the next year to former Harvard President, Charles Eliot. New York Times. November 21, 1915; New York Times. January 28, 1916.
Awards in individual categories are listed below (in alphabetical order) followed by a list of all prizes in reverse chronological order: