The Guggenheim Museum announced a five-year initiative that will bring international curators to its New York headquarters for a series of two-year residencies aimed at organizing exhibitions and acquiring work from “South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa,” areas still somewhat off the well-beaten paths of the Western contemporary art world.
The project’s name is the Guggenheim UBS Map Global Art Initiative, according to The New York Times, which broke the news. It is being backed by the Swiss bank UBS. With confidentiality agreements signed, no one from the museum or the bank would say how much the bank gave, but reporter Carol Vogel writes that “[p]eople in the art world put the figure at more than $40 million.”
Refreshingly, Jürg Zeltner, the chief executive of UBS Wealth Management, doesn’t even pretend that his bank’s motives are purely about supporting art. “As art is becoming more and more of an asset class, UBS is looking to increase our profile in these kinds of special fields of interest,” he told The Times. “More and more we are refocusing our strategy to reach emerging markets, and this project seemed like a perfect fit.”
Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong told the paper, “Our global aspiration is to become familiar with these places, but that calls for people power and a sense of adventure. We certainly have the latter.”
The program will focus first on South and Southeast Asia, and a curator from Singapore, June Yap, has already begun work on her two-year residency in New York. After identifying artworks to acquire for the museum’s collection, she will organize an exhibition for next winter, which will travel to two other international museums.