New York's Guggenheim Museum gets US$10m grant for Chinese art

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 March, 2013, 4:05am

New York's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation and Hong Kong's Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation have announced a US$10 million grant to the museum - the largest ever given to any US museum - to expand its collection of Chinese contemporary art.

It will go into commissioning new works aimed at increasing contemporary Chinese art's profile among mass audiences.

"We created exceptional possibilities for the Guggenheim when we inaugurated the Asian Art Programme in 2006 [and] we are proud today to … join with the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation to expand long-term international awareness and appreciation of contemporary Chinese art," said the museum's director Richard Armstrong.

The family foundation's CEO Ted Lipman said the Guggenheim museum and foundation shared its belief that art could inspire, enlighten and contribute to the betterment of communities.

Chinese contemporary art has raised high prices at auctions since the mid-1990s, but it is lesser known outside artistic circles, where art from China is still largely perceived as traditional.

"We feel this [initiative] will properly integrate Chinese artists into the world at large. The Guggenheim Museum has a global reach," Robert Y.C. Ho, the family foundation's chairman, told the South China Morning Post.

Alexandra Munroe, the Guggenheim's Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art, agreed.

"We're a very powerful platform for the presentation of Asian Art," she told the Post. "We attract mass audiences who come … because they think they might see a Picasso. Then they [see] Asian art and fall in love with it."

The US$10 million grant has also enabled the family foundation to appoint a curator of Chinese art, Dr Thomas Berghuis, who will oversee the commissioning of the new works.

The Guggenheim Museum was founded in 1939 to showcase non-objective art. The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation was set up in 2005 to promote Buddhist and Chinese art.