The Museum of Modern Art Announces The Museum Research Consortium, Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Art Press Release from United States. Published by MOMA on Thursday 12 September 2013.

The Museum of Modern Art announces the creation of the Museum Research Consortium, a new partnership with the graduate art history programs at Princeton University, Yale University, Columbia University, the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.

Directed by Leah Dickerman, Curator in MoMA’s Department of Painting and Sculpture, and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Consortium serves a number of goals including: the development of a stronger dialogue between the Museum and academic colleagues; furthering the collaborative study of key objects in the Museum’s collection; and the creation of a framework for the Museum’s participation in the training and education of the next generation of art historians and museum curators. The Consortium’s first class of pre-doctoral fellows, drawn from the five partner institutions, begin their work at MoMA this month.

Ms. Dickerman is the project leader of the Museum Research Consortium. A steering committee is made up of Ms. Dickerman, Peter Reed, Senior Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs at MoMA, and representatives from the five participating universities: Hal Foster, the Townsend Martin Class of 1917 Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University; David Joselit, the Carnegie Professor, History of Art, Modern Art and Culture at Yale University; Thomas E. Crow, the Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts and Associate Provost of the Arts at New York University and Patricia Rubin, the Judy and Michael Steinhardt Director at Institute of Fine Arts; Emily Braun, Distinguished Professor of Twentieth-Century European and American Art at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York; and Branden Joseph, the Frank Gallipolli Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at Columbia University, and Holger Klein, Professor and Chair of the Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University.

Glenn Lowry, Director of MoMA, states, “As educational and research institutions, museums have a key role to play in developing and training the next generation of art historians and curators. The Museum Research Consortium offers a unique opportunity for doing so by bringing together outstanding students and teachers with their museum colleagues to focus on the study of objects provided by The Museum of Modern Art’s collection. We are profoundly grateful to the Mellon Foundation for their generosity in making this project possible.”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s grant in support of the new Museum Research Consortium forms part of the Foundation’s initiative to support partnerships in research and graduate education between American art museums and doctoral programs in art history. The initiative seeks to strengthen the intellectual and professional preparation of art history graduate students through programs that fully integrate object-based study and curatorial and conservation practice into the PhD curriculum. Vice President Mariët Westermann said, “It is wonderful that such a major museum as MoMA will be engaged in graduate education at five leading graduate programs for the study of modern and contemporary art, and that both faculty and students in these universities will contribute to new research based on the museum’s collections.”

The program will unite the Museum’s resources and expertise with those of the five partners through the initiation of two complementary programmatic features: semi-annual Study Sessions and pre-doctoral Fellowships.

The semi-annual Study Sessions provide a framework for viewing and studying works of art in MoMA’s collection by a group that includes not only Museum curators and conservators, but also faculty and graduate students from university partner programs, and invited outside experts. The topic of the first Study Session, to be held in January 2014, will be the work of Jean Dubuffet (French, 1901-1985). Joint research on objects considered during the Study Sessions will continue on an inter-institutional web platform designed to foster shared scholarship and to build, through the Consortium community’s common efforts, deep research files and commentary around studied objects.

“We believe that convening regular discussions with colleagues in front of works of art will bring great benefits—both in nurturing a vigorous research community, and in generating new ideas about the art works in our care,” said Ms. Dickerman.

The Fellowships complement the Study Sessions by giving a select group of pre-doctoral graduate students experience and training in curatorial work, and object-based research within a museum setting. One Fellow from each of the five participating programs will be hosted at MoMA annually; each will be paired with an experienced curator who will serve as a mentor and guide their work within the Museum. As integral members of MoMA’s curatorial group, the fellows will participate in a full range of activities related to the preparation of exhibitions as well as collection research and display. The inaugural class of Museum Research Consortium Fellows is Andrew Cappetta (CUNY), Kirsty Dootson (Yale University), Frances Jacobus-Parker (Princeton University), Rachel Kaplan (NYU), and Stephanie O’Rourke (Columbia University).