Press Office News

Statement from SFMOMA Regarding the Potential Defunding of the NEA/NEH/IMLS

Released: March 16, 2017 ·

It is vitally important that the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services continue their critical support of the arts and we urge the President and Congress to maintain funding for these three important agencies.

The support of the NEA, NEH and IMLS is fundamental to the success of SFMOMA and to all Bay Area museums and cultural organizations. Collectively, we strive to foster creativity, embrace new ways of seeing the world and maintain art as a vital and meaningful part of public life.

Our ability to present outstanding programs through NEA-supported exhibitions is a deeply valued educational offering to our community. The exhibitions that we present provide teachers — from elementary school through college — with tools to develop curriculum and opportunities to bring their students to experience the museum firsthand. Furthermore, our curators are able to advance art history through scholarship and close study of the work, and local artists visit the museum to seek inspiration.

The NEA’s indemnification program provides critical support to museums by providing temporary insurance for major exhibitions that bring culturally significant works of art to local communities. Without this provision, SFMOMA could not present the iconic works currently on view in Matisse/Diebenkorn. Future shows such as Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed and exhibitions of the work of Robert Rauschenberg and René Magritte may not be possible, and we would not have been able to present past exhibitions such as The Steins Collect. For many of our visitors, these exhibitions represent the only opportunity in their lifetimes to enjoy and learn from these important works and the artists who created them.

At SFMOMA, we could not have created our new Photography Interpretive Gallery without the financial support of the NEH and IMLS. This new learning space teaches visitors and students about the history and process of photography and invites them to participate in an engaging, interactive experience. One activity in the gallery has already generated over 60,000 printouts of the self-portraits made by visitors.

IMLS has made possible several major conservation projects at SFMOMA, enabling us to care for the works in our permanent collection and ensure that they are preserved for future generations. Additionally, IMLS has provided support for the museum’s digital engagement initiatives, including our website, online family programs and A/V enhancements all of which expand the level of access we provide to the public.

With our goal to develop and inspire the next generation of art lovers and museum-goers, support of the NEA, NEH and IMLS is more important than ever.

–Neal Benezra, Helen and Charles Schwab Director, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art