It's At the Vanguard of Art Conservation. What's This Foundation Up To?

If we're to believe our own reporting at IP, contemporary art is all the rage across the visual arts world. The New York Times agrees, noting, "Modern and contemporary art dominate the action these days—in auction houses and galleries, as well as museums. Everyone wants in."

But not everyone. Take the Getty Foundation, for example. They take the long view on what constitutes "contemporary art" and architecture.

Wallace Harrison's First Presbyterian Church in Stamford, Connecticut, completed in 1958? It was contemporary then, and even now, its modernist, fish-shaped design seems relevant. It's precisely structures like this that the foundation wants to conserve through its "Keeping It Modern" conservation initiative.

We first looked at this initiative—which Getty launched in 2014—about a year ago, when it announced its second round of recipients, noting that the primary goal was to "discover ways of maintaining and preserving modern structures based upon the unique challenges presented by the building materials."

Having just digested a Getty press release announcing the recent round of nine winners, we can safely say the foundation's goal remains unchanged. Each of the winners exemplify a modernist structure that has aged poorly due to location-specific elements like climate, age, concrete, and water leakage.

The new research and planning grants include the first projects by female architects as well as the first building in sub-Saharan Africa, the Children's Library in Accra, Ghana. Other common themes, according to Getty, include "significant examples of Soviet Modernism and the innovative use of dalle de verre stained glasses in religious architecture."

Click here to check out the descriptions of the 2016 conservation projects.

In related news, the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Rothschild Foundation recently announced a new fellowship to support innovative scholarship in the history of art, collecting, and conservation, using the collections and resources of both institutions. The award offers art historians, museum professionals, or conservators the opportunity to research and study at both the Getty in Los Angeles and Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, England.

The inaugural fellow is Dr. David Saunders, a prominent expert in the area of conservation science who will work on museum and gallery lighting during the fellowship. In the future, the fellowship will be awarded on an annual basis and administered by the Getty Foundation.

This isn't to say Getty isn't using modern tools to support the art of art scholarship and conservation. Check out our recent take on Getty's Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI), an ambitious project started in 2009 that aims to transition museums to the digital age by publishing scholarly collection catalogs online.