Art Institute ‘s Conservation Department receives windfall

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Without doubt, Douglas Druick, retiring president and Eloise W. Martin director of the Art Institute of Chicago is leaving the museum in strong financial shape.

On Tuesday, less than a year after he helped oversee the arrival of a major private contemporary art collection with an estimated value of $400 million (donated by Chicago philanthropists Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson), Druick announced that the Lake Forest-based Grainger Foundation has committed to the museum endowment funds of $10 million “to realize the long-term vision and ambitions of the Art Institute’s Department of Conservation.”

In a prepared statement Druick noted: “Founded with a single conservator nearly 60 years ago, the Art Institute’s Department of Conservation has now grown to include specialists across all media who help to authenticate, identify, preserve, research, and store our collection, and conservation scientists who focus on materials research of unparalleled intellectual breadth. The department has assumed a central place in all of the museum’s activities, contributing to scholarship on our holdings and informing special exhibitions, publications, and education offerings.”

Explaining the importance and impact of this endowment, Druick said: “The Art Institute is known for a particular brand of research that depends on close collaboration between curators, conservators, and conservation scientists. We are immensely grateful to The Grainger Foundation for fueling that work, as well as supporting the all-important preservation and stewardship of our collections. The newly established Grainger Fund for Conservation will allow us to attract and retain talent to our program, and to serve as a training ground for emerging talent in the fields of conservation and conservation science.”

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