Published: May 14, 2002
CAMBRIDGE, MASS., NEW YORK CITY, LOS ANGELES, CALIF., and PHILADELPHIA, PENN. -The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a private foundation with assets of approximately $4 billion, awards grants on a selective basis to institutions in higher education; museums and art conservation; performing arts; population; conservation and the environment; and public affairs.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has announced that it had been awarded two grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: a $2.5 million leadership challenge grant in support of publishing scholarly books related to its collections and exhibitions, to be matched one-to-one by new funds raised by the museum within the next three years, and a $280,000 grant to continue The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Curatorial Fellowships, which enable young art historians to build upon their scholarship and prepare for curatorial positions by coming in direct contact with works of art and top curators in their fields.
“We’re thrilled by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s support of our publishing program and these Curatorial Fellowships, which contribute greatly to our ability to achieve our goals,” said Anne d’Harnoncourt, director and chief executive officer of the museum.
“The Mellon Foundation has been so very supportive of the museum over the years, and has been a remarkable, positive force for advancing the goals of art museums across the United States. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, we endeavor year after year to publish new and insightful scholarship on works of art in our collections or in exhibitions organized by our curators, and to give young scholars the direct experience of working with objects to make a lasting impact in their chosen area of specialization. These latest Mellon Foundation grants fortify our efforts in core aspects of the museum’s mission.”
The publications grant comes to strengthen an earlier endowment for this purpose, awarded to the museum by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 1984. Sherry Babbitt, director of publishing at the museum, noted, “By providing such critical support for the extensive research, editorial and production components that have long distinguished the museum’s scholarly publications, The Mellon Foundation’s commitment, once again, helps us to ensure the continued excellence and development of our program of producing books that explore our splendid collections in depth.”
The museum’s program of publishing the results of research on its collections, major exhibitions and conservation findings dates to its founding in 1876. The museum publishes some six to eight books per year on subjects ranging from painting and sculpture, works on paper, and decorative arts to architectural settings from Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Among the museum’s recent titles are Barnett Newman (edited by Ann Temkin, March 2002), which explores the major Abstract Expressionist artist’s place in and influence upon Twentieth Century art; Thomas Eakins, a monumental volume devoted to one of the great American artists to emerge in the aftermath of the Civil War (edited by Darrel Sewell, October 2001); and The Arts of Hon’ami Koetsu: Japanese Renaissance Master, the first English language publication on the artist who revolutionized the arts of Japan in the Seventeenth Century (by Felice Fischer, July 2000).
Among the forthcoming books is an extensive, thoroughly illustrated catalog by Carl Brandon Strehlke of early Italian paintings in the John G. Johnson Collection at the museum. The publishing department also works with museum curators to produce periodic Bulletins that highlight aspects of the collections, among them Japanese Buddhist Art (Winter 1991), Recognizing Van Eyck (Spring 1998) and The Etching Club of London: Prints at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (forthcoming).
The Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellowship Program, launched by The Mellon Foundation in 1996, is a highly competitive two- to three-year program in major art museums across the United States that invites postdoctoral scholars to pursue research, cataloging and documentation of collections. The new grant to the museum provides support to two Mellon Fellowships. The first of these is expected to be filled in fall 2002.
Mellon Fellows collaborate with museum curators and conservators on an interdisciplinary approach to studying the collections. While organizing exhibitions, examining and selecting objects, writing wall text and essays, overseeing installation, and giving gallery talks and lectures, Mellon Fellows concurrently develop an understanding of mediums and techniques, condition, treatment options and preservation issues. The scholars also work closely with education staff to interpret and present works of art to a wide audience.
Two Mellon Fellowships were awarded in the first phase of the program. Pierre Terjanian, Mellon Fellow in Arms and Armor from 1997 to 2000, focused on provenance research into the Carl Otto von Kienbusch Collection of Arms and Armor and oversaw a reinstallation of its galleries. Andrea Fredericksen, Mellon Fellow in Prints Drawings and Photographs from 1999 to 2002, organized “The Plot Thickens: Narrative in British Printmaking, 1700-1900,” an exhibition on view at the museum through June 23. Focusing on the British prints within the Berman Gift of Old Master Prints, Fredericksen studied and cataloged more than 3,000 works of art, making significant contributions to print scholarship.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has supported the core mission of the Philadelphia Museum of Art since 1981, when it offered the museum a grant to endow its first postgraduate fellowship in conservation.
In May 2001, The Andrew S. Mellon Foundation awarded the museum a $1.9 million challenge grant to endow an existing senior conservation position and a new senior-level scientist position in the Department of Conservation. That grant also enabled the museum to purchase two critical analytical instruments, enhancing the staff’s ability to authenticate and date works of art with far greater precision, as well as to understand the mechanisms by which art materials change over time.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has received a $1.86 million challenge grant from the foundation to endow a senior conservation scientist position at the museum.
The grant also includes funding to purchase and maintain state-of-the-art analytical equipment for LACMA’s Conservation Center. The museum has already raised $150,000 toward its matching equipment obligation, but must raise an additional $650,000 to obtain the full benefit of the endowment for the senior conservation scientist position.
“The Conservation Center owes great debt of gratitude to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and its Program Officer Angelica Rudenstine,” said Victoria Blyth-Hill, director of Conservation Center. “Her commitment to the advancement of scientific research coupled with the support of LACMA’s President and Director Andrea L. Rich ensures that the center will be able to advance its mission of strengthening and furthering conservation science to the benefit of LACMA and museums worldwide.”
LACMA’s Conservation Center became the first art conservation department on the West Coast when it was established in 1967. The center encompasses six areas of conservation expertise: paintings, textiles, paper, objects, research and most recently, laser research. Its staff of more than 25 includes conservators, scientists, technicians, fellows, interns, photographers and administrators.
Its myriad responsibilities include authenticating works of art, solving historical riddles, recommending repairs and monitoring the museum environment. LACMA’s Conservation Center further seeks to develop techniques suitable for use by a broader community of art conservators to address these tasks.
Particularly exciting is the purchase of a Raman Microspectrometer, which allows for increased analysis of art in a noninvasive manner. Raman Spectroscopy can be used to identify pigments, gemstones and corrosion products without the need to take a sample from the artwork. Raman Spectroscopy is well established in major European museums, but LACMA is only the second museum in the United States working on the application of this technique to conservation research. The particular Raman Microspectrometer being installed in LACMA’s Conservation Center is big enough to handle statues or paintings, a significant improvement over previous machines, designed to accept objects of only a couple inches in size.
An earlier gift from the Mellon Foundation endowed conservation fellowships at LACMA that have since provided training for more than 150 students. Matching funds from the LACMA community would help foster a continued relationship with the foundation, Blyth-Hill observed.
LACMA’s permanent collection includes approximately 100,000 works spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present, making it the premier encyclopedic visual arts museum in the western United States.
The Harvard University Art Museums
The Harvard University Art Museums has received a $705,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund two three-year postdoctoral fellowships in conservation science at the Straus Center for Conservation.
The grant will enable scholars to pursue postdoctoral scientific research within an art museum setting, which is an area that is currently underdeveloped in the United States. The two fellows will draw upon the Straus Center’s outstanding resources, which include the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, as well as the exceptional collections of the Harvard University Art Museums.
As the first fine arts conservation treatment, research and training facility in the United States, the Straus center has played a pivotal role in advancing art conservation science. The fellowships will build upon the center’s contributions to the conservation and art historical communities, and will further the Harvard University Art Museums’ long-standing commitment to creating opportunities for teaching, professional training development, and research.
The Frick Collection
The Frick Collection has received two major grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of three separate projects. One grant will enable the Frick to restore a predoctoral curatorial fellowship program, which had been discontinued for a number of years. The other, unrelated grant is part of a special fund established by the Foundation to assist New York City cultural and performing arts organizations that were directly affected by the events of September 11.
This second award will be used in two ways: First, to restore to the Frick’s fall 2002 exhibition schedule an important show of paintings from The Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio (now set to open October 29) that was cancelled last year as a result of a tremendous downturn in the number of visitors and related income after September 11; second, to establish a year-long pilot program to introduce evening hours for the public. The latter program — an important component of the institution’s ongoing efforts to increase its accessibility — was delayed last year because of similar budgetary concerns.
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