Hauser & Wirth is definitely a super-mega gallery with its nine locations throughout the world (Hong, London, Los Angeles, two in New York, Somerset, St. Moritz, Gstaad, and Zurich), with exhibition space lager than many museums, and with bookstores, restaurants, and boutiques. Now it has announced a new non-profit institute “dedicated to supporting art historical scholarship and to preserving and advancing the legacies of modern and contemporary artists through enabling greater public access to their archives for research.”
Its press release states:
To pursue its mission, the Institute will create a study center for the preservation, expedient cataloguing, and digitization of primary research materials for direct study and free online public access to these resources. It will seek to nurture innovation and substance in art historical research through the funding of fellowships in partnership with artists’ estates, foundations, and educational institutions. Another core activity of the Institute will be the production of online catalogues raisonnés and print publications that advance the highest academic standards in order to strengthen the field of modern and contemporary art history. The organization will also present public programs, including exhibitions of archival material and symposia that engage scholars, archivists, artists, collectors, curators, estate managers, gallerists, and the general public in dialogues about the obligations and opportunities inherent in archive stewardship.
Inaugural initiatives Include Franz Kline Paintings catalogue raisonné, a Spring 2019 Symposium, and three U.S. Fellowships. This all sounds fantastic and generous. But much of its programming and educational archives will revolve around artists from its own for-profit roster. When will visitors no longer be able to distinguish the difference between the missions of galleries and museums? Will the line become too blurry to recognize?