The Artist Initiative is a series of collaborative, interdisciplinary research projects bringing together curators, conservators, art historians, and artists to pilot new approaches to contemporary art conservation, interpretation, and display. Funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Artist Initiative features research engagements with individual artists, including Ellsworth Kelly, Vija Celmins, and Julia Scher, as well as thematic studies of photography from the 1970s and 1980s and Bay Area high-tech design. Interdisciplinary teams devoted to each engagement work closely with artists and scholars to explore complex issues surrounding the preservation and display of key works in our collection. Research undertaken with Ellsworth Kelly and Julia Scher, for example, supported new installations of their work in 2016.
In the newly expanded museum, the Artist Initiative benefits from new hybrid workspaces, including the Collections Workroom, a state-of-the-art facility that supports collaborations between visiting artists, conservators, and curators, and the Media Suites, a center for the study of media artworks and their installation. At the Collection Center, a seventy-five-thousand-square-foot facility in South San Francisco, we currently host researchers and educational workshops, provide access to artworks not currently on view in the galleries, and conduct interviews with artists in the Mock-Up Gallery, a working model of a gallery in the new museum building.
The Artist Initiative aims to facilitate a more integrated approach to museum conservation and collections care. We will communicate our findings through public symposia featuring leading museum professionals and artists, and we look forward to sharing our research across SFMOMA’s print and digital publishing platforms.