Julie Barten at work in the Guggenheim's conservation lab


In April 2010, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the Guggenheim Museum a generous $1.23 million grant to undertake the Panza Collection Conservation Initiative. This multi-year project is designed to ensure that variable, ephemeral, and refabricatable works from the 1960s and 1970s are carefully researched, preserved, and presented to the public in a manner sensitive to historical context and material integrity. The grant from the Mellon Foundation supports the first phase of the Panza Collection Initiative, a three-year comprehensive evaluation of 94 works by Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Bruce Nauman, and Lawrence Weiner, which are part of the Guggenheim’s renowned Panza Collection of Mimimalist, Post-Minimalist, Conceptual, and Environmental art. The Panza Collection Initiative was conceived by Carol Stringari, Guggenheim Deputy Director and Chief Conservator, and Nancy Spector, Guggenheim Deputy Director and Chief Curator. Stringari and Spector work in close collaboration with Francesca Esmay, Conservator, Panza Collection, and Jeffrey Weiss, Curator, Panza Collection, to lead an interdisciplinary team of curators, conservators, and scientists who are contributing to the project. Ultimately, the Guggenheim will address all 357 works in the Panza Collection, establishing strategies for effectively preserving and exhibiting variable, ephemeral, and refabricatable artworks, and setting precedents to guide the treatment of such works in public collections across the United States and around the globe.


The Stockman Family Foundation recently awarded the Guggenheim Museum a grant supporting the Works on Paper and Photography Rehousing Project, committing generous funding to the second and final phase of this nearly three-year project. As a result of the first phase of the Rehousing Project, completed in December 2010, more than 1,600 works on paper and photographs were unframed and rehoused in new archrival enclosures and flat files. During the second phase of the project, outdated housing and enclosure materials for more than 2,400 works are being replaced, and many of these works are also being reorganized for better storage and conservation. The Rehousing Project is making major improvements in the long-term preservation of the museum’s works on paper and photography collections while increasing the availability of valuable space at the museum’s primary storage warehouse. The project also is generating new data about the works being processed, providing the museum’s curatorial staff and others with more robust information about individual works on paper and photographs.


Panza Collection Conservation Initiative
With a major commitment from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in place toward the first phase of the Panza Collection Initiative, additional support is needed to allow the Guggenheim to undertake and complete subsequent phases of the project. As the repository of the renowned Panza Collection, one of the most significant collections of Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, and Conceptual art in the world, the Guggenheim is uniquely positioned to investigate how to address the long-term preservation and display of works emerging from these genres. The Panza Collection Initiative is utilizing these holdings to develop solutions for the conservation of seminal pieces of American culture from the 1960s and 1970s. The project is organized around a series of case studies of major 20th-century artists who are represented in depth in the Panza Collection, beginning with Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Bruce Nauman, and Lawrence Weiner. The investigation of works by other artists will begin following the conclusion of the first phase of the project in August 2013.

Thannhauser Frame Project
In 2006, the Guggenheim commenced the Thannhauser Frame Project, an ongoing initiative to restore or replace several frames for paintings in the museum’s holdings, with a focus on works that are part of the Thannhauser Collection. This collection formally entered the Guggenheim’s holding in 1978—later augmented by additional gifts made between 1984 and 1991—and includes Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and modern French masterpieces. When first accessioned, the works were removed from their period or antique frames and reinstalled with plain white or surface gilded shadow frames, in keeping with the Guggenheim’s typical framing style. Several years later, in the early 1990s, the decision was made to return the Thannhauser Collection paintings to their period frames. It soon became apparent, however, that the condition of the frames did not match that of the works, which had been cleaned and restored in the 1980s. In 2006, the museum completed an extensive survey and developed the plan for the Thannhauser Frame Project. In addition to restoring period frames that are still in the Guggenheim’s possession, the museum acquires period frames or commissions reproductions when an original period frame cannot be obtained. Near-term goals for the project include locating period frames for Paul Cézanne’s Plate of Peaches (1879-80) and Vincent van Gogh’s Landscape with Snow (1888), and reframing Georges Braque’s Landscape near Antwerp (1906), for which a reproduction frame was recently commissioned. In the long-term, the project aims to ensure that the Thannhauser Collection is displayed in a manner that is appropriate to the historical context of the works contained therein and that enhances their overall presentation and appearance at the Guggenheim.

Julie Barten at work in the Guggenheim's conservation lab. Photo: David Heald © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

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