The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has announced a $1.75 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of a long-term initiative to involve living artists in its approach to conservation and collections research.
In response to the changing nature of contemporary art, the Artist Initiative will work to increase collaboration among conservators, curators, and artists; advance SFMOMA's expertise in documenting artists' methods and add to its knowledge about contemporary art practice; and share these findings more broadly with leading scholars and the public. Projects funded through the initiative will be structured around engagements with artists represented in the collection and will serve all curatorial departments, including photography, painting and sculpture, media arts, and architecture and design.
Initially, artist interviews will be conducted at the museum's off-site collections center, a new 75,000-square-foot storage and research facility that houses most of the museum's collection in a single location, making it more accessible to staff, artists, and scholars. When SFMOMA moves to a new building in 2016, the initiative will expand into studio space on the seventh and eight floors of the building.
"Traditionally thought of as a solitary pursuit in backrooms of museums, art conservation is rapidly emerging as a collaborative and relationship-based practice in the museum of the twenty-first century," said Jill Sterrett, SFMOMA's director of collections and conservation, who will lead the initiative. "As art making has grown from an individual endeavor to comprise more collaborative or shared experiences, so too has conservation, engaging many disciplines within the museum. An ever-growing array of unorthodox artist materials — ranging from food to the Internet — adds to the demand for a corollary shift in thinking from museums."