A Quick Look at Bank of America's Global Art Conservation Ambitions

A quick scan of Bank of America's (BOA) 2016 Art Conservation Project (ACP) grant recipients suggests that its name is somewhat of a misnomer.

The program, which provides grants to nonprofit museums to conserve historically or culturally significant works of art that are in danger of deterioration, is irrefutably global in nature. Since its inception in 2010, BOA has provided grants for more than 100 projects in 29 countries.  

This latest round of grants finds BOA providing funding to 21 projects in six countries. These projects include restoration and conservation work on paintings by Thomas Gainsborough, Claude Monet, and Salvador Dalí, as well as approximately 100 textiles and related objects from the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University’s South and Central Americas collections.

The program's growth comes at a time in which other large grantmakers are throwing big money behind conservation work, curatorial or otherwise. One recent example comes to us from the Getty Foundation's Keep it Modern program, which seeks to maintain and preserve modern structures thanks in part to advancements in conservation practices. 

Startling developments in the field of art restoration and conservation have driven BOA's efforts as well. For example, work on Manet’s "Woman in Evening Dress" at the Guggenheim, made possible through an ACP grant from the bank in 2015, has uncovered new details about the painting such as the time frame when it was created and the potential that other artists were involved. 

To that end, another good metric around how foundations view a certain field's prospects is the extent to which they fund jobs in that field. With this as our frame of reference, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is also rather bullish on art conservation. Recent Mellon grants to, among other things, fund stipends for university art conservation graduate students, suggests it views the field as a viable career path moving forward.

And as for Bank of America? Well, their Art Conservation Project is but one element in their larger support network for the arts, which also includes its Art in Our Communities and Museums on Us programs. The bank is Founding Member of the Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., International Tour Sponsor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and serves as the main sponsor of approximately ten museum exhibitions a year.

Click here for a closer look at these additional programs.