Guggenheim museum establishes conservation fellowship with support from russian billionaire

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has created a new international fellowship program for the conservation of modern and contemporary art with the help of Guggenheim trustee Vladimir Potanin, a Russian billionaire who made his fortune in the nickel industry. The announcement was made at the panel discussion “Preserving the Future: Conserving Contemporary Art in the Digital Age,” which was held at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice earlier today.

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The Vladimir Potanin Conservation Fellowship will give a Russian-speaking conservation professional the opportunity to engage with the work of the Guggenheim for a period of twelve to eighteen months. The fellow will work under Lena Stringari, the deputy director and chief conservator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Applications for the position will be accepted until June 15, and the fellowship will have a January 2020 start date.

“Having preservation and conservation as their primary goals, modern museums must address local and global societal issues and share solutions across geographic and political boundaries,” Potanin said in a statement. “The Guggenheim is a leader among museums for its global outlook, intellectual daring, and record of achievement in scholarship and conservation. No institution is better prepared to undertake this fellowship program in modern and contemporary art.”

The Moscow-born businessman, investor, and philanthropist has been a trustee of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation since 2002 and a chairman of the board of trustees of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg since 2003. According to Business Insider, he is one of the wealthiest people in Russia and is known for becoming the first Russian corporate leader to join the Giving Pledge, the charitable organization founded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, and for playing ice hockey with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Over the years, Potanin has worked to promote Russian culture across the globe. In 2005, the Guggenheim staged “Russia!” at the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas, which closed in 2008, with the support of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation—the show featured more than 275 masterpieces—and in 2016, Potanin donated more than 250 works of Soviet and Russian contemporary art to the Centre Pompidou in Paris. For his generosity, France inducted him into the Legion of Honor.

Installation view of “RUSSIA! The Majesty of the Tsars: Treasures from the Kremlin Museum,” at the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas (2005–06). Photo: David Heald.

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