Guggenheim Foundation receives grant from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for Panza Collection Conservation Initiative

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation has received a major grant of $1.23 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to commence work on the Panza Collection Conservation Initiative, it was announced today by Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum. The first phase of the Panza Collection Conservation Initiative is a three-year project supported by the Mellon Foundation to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the Guggenheim’s Panza Collection of Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, and Conceptual works from the 1960s through the 1970s, focusing on the work of four key American masters represented in great depth in the collection: Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Bruce Nauman, and Lawrence Weiner.

In making the announcement, Mr. Armstrong said, “Many of the works in the Guggenheim’s Panza Collection are ephemeral or conceptual and pose unique challenges to curators and conservators who strive to accurately exhibit and sustain the work for generations to come. The Mellon Foundation grant enables us to undertake the first critical phase of research and interdisciplinary dialogue toward what is envisioned as a long-term plan of action to address all works in the Panza Collection.” Mr. Armstrong added, “The ultimate goal of the Panza Collection Conservation Initiative is to establish strategies for exhibiting and effectively preserving the Panza Collection works, which, in turn, will provide essential precedents for other cultural institutions grappling with similar collection-based issues.”

The Panza Collection Conservation Initiative
From 1991 to 1992, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation acquired 357 works from the world-renowned collection of Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, including seminal Minimalist sculptures by artists such as Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, and Robert Morris; equally strong examples of Minimalist paintings by Robert Mangold, Brice Marden, and Robert Ryman; and an in-depth selection of Post-Minimalist, Conceptual, and Environmental art by Hanne Darboven, Robert Irwin, Bruce Nauman, Maria Nordman, Richard Serra, James Turrell, and Lawrence Weiner, among others. With this unprecedented acquisition in place, the Guggenheim forged a leadership role in the study, display, and preservation of American art from the 1960s and 1970s.

The Panza Collection Conservation Initiative was conceived to ensure that Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, and Conceptual works of this era are thoroughly researched, preserved, and presented to the public in a manner sensitive to historical context and material integrity. The goal of the Panza Collection Conservation Initiative will be to create a framework for the sustainability of countless other variable, ephemeral, or refabricatable artworks from the 1960s and 1970s in public collections around the United States and internationally.

The Panza Collection Conservation Initiative will be led by Carol Stringari, Deputy Director and Chief Conservator, and Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, and will be staffed with a dedicated curator, conservator, and coordinator, plus scientific consultants, and guided by a cross-disciplinary Advisory Committee comprising experts on Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, and Conceptual art in general and the four artists’ work in particular.

Ms. Stringari is a leading expert in the field of contemporary-art conservation. She has lectured and published on various topics including the Variable Media Initiative, installation art, acrylic paint formulations, and minimalist painting conservation. Since 2001, Ms. Stringari has been project manager on the AXA Reinhardt Conservation Project, an unprecedented research study in collaboration with the conservation department at The Museum of Modern Art in which the study, analysis, and experimental treatment of an irreparably damaged painting by Ad Reinhardt, Black Painting (1960–66), was donated to the Guggenheim Museum Study Collection by AXA Art Insurance. The project culminated in the 2008 exhibition and publication Imageless: The Scientific Study and Experimental Treatment of an Ad Reinhardt Black Painting.

Ms. Stringari has played a key role in formulating and implementing the Variable Media Initiative at the Guggenheim Museum, an innovative methodology for documenting conceptual and ephemeral works for long-term preservation, working with contemporary artists to gain a thorough understanding of the conceptual underpinnings of their work in addition to their material nature. She co-curated an exhibition specifically on this theme in 2004, titled Seeing Double: Emulation in Theory and Practice. In addition to her museum work, Ms. Stringari has lectured and published extensively. She is a founding member of the International Institute for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA), has served on various panels and advisory boards for the preservation of new media and public art, and has lectured as an adjunct professor at New York University.

Ms. Spector is responsible for contemporary programming and the growth of the permanent collection at the Guggenheim and oversees the institution’s primary acquisition councils, the International Director’s Council, and the Photography Committee. Exhibitions that Ms. Spector has organized at the Guggenheim include Rebecca Horn: The Inferno-Paradiso Switch (1992, with Germano Celant), Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1995), Robert Rauschenberg: Performance (1997), Postmedia: Conceptual Photography in the Guggenheim Museum Collection (2000), Moving Pictures: Contemporary Photography and Video from the Guggenheim Museum Collections (2002), Matthew Barney: The Cremaster Cycle (2002–03), Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated): Art from 1951 to the Present (2004), Marina Abramovic: Seven Easy Pieces (2005), Richard Prince (2007), Louise Bourgeois (2008), theanyspacewhatever (2008–09), and Tino Sehgal (2010 ). At the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, she has overseen commissions by Andreas Slominski (1999), Hiroshi Sugimoto (2000), and Lawrence Weiner (2000), as well as organized the exhibitions Douglas Gordon’s The Vanity of Allegory (2005) and All in the Present Must Be Transformed: Matthew Barney and Joseph Beuys (2006). In 2007 she was the U.S. Commissioner for the Venice Biennale, where she presented an exhibition of work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

Guggenheim Museum