Grants To Museums

AFMO supports special projects at both the Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie, including exhibitions, acquisitions, conservation, and education. AFMO is especially proud to help fund the “Orsay Wide Open” Project and Contemporary Art Program. For more information on making a contribution or grant, please contact AFMO’s Executive Director, Verena Thornton (+33 1 40 49 47 80), or email: vthornton@aforsay.org

Contemporary Projects at the Orsay and Orangerie Museums

Contemporary Projects at the Orsay and Orangerie Museums

AFMO supports the Contemporary Programs Project at the Orsay and Orangerie museums throughout 2019. World-class artists are invited to share their vision of the museum through exhibitions, conferences, and educational programming.

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The museums invite contemporary artists to create exhibitions, installations and cultural programming. Inspired by the museums’ collections, they share their special viewpoints with the public in innovative ways, that emphasize the relevance of Impressionist works to our contemporary world.

At the Musée d’Orsay:

The program highlights the richness of the collections in a new fluid form of presentation and finds inspiration in painting, sculpture, decorative arts, photography, and architecture. The works exposed are eloquent witnesses of a period of dramatic change in the arts, in a rapidly changing world of industrialization, mass migrations into the cities, innovation, and democratization… the beginning of modernity. The contemporary programming employs a variety of formats in the museum’s gallery spaces and online that range from podcasts and videos to exhibitions, to conferences, and installations. The world’s most important collection of works from the 19th and early 20th century remains relevant to today’s artists and enchanted visitors.

Featured Artists: Julian Schnabel, Glenn Ligon, Tracey Emin, Christodoulous Panayiotu, and Yan Pei-Ming

At the Musée de l’Orangerie:

Beginning in the fall of  2018, the Musée de l’Orangerie reserves two spaces  for modern and contemporary works to infuse the collections with today’s energy. One gallery is integrated into the Jean Walter- Paul Guillaume permanent collection in a fascinating exchange between the past and our present via painting, sculpture, graphic arts, audio and film installations. The second space outside of the permanent collection is in dialogue with Monet’s masterpiece:  New contemplative and spiritual creations flow from his fabled “Waterlilies” across all media (painting, photography, sculpture, installations…).

Featured Artists: Richard Jackson, Ann Veronica Janssens, Alex Katz, and Patrick Tosani

Homage to Ellsworth Kelly

Homage to Ellsworth Kelly

The centennial exhibition at the Orangerie, the Waterlilies. American Abstract Painting and the Last Monet (April 13 – August 20, 2018) broke previous attendance numbers.

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The magic of the Waterlilies inspired the great artists of the 50s and beyond: Major works by Joan Mitchell, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Sam Francis, and Jackson Pollock were brilliantly contrasted with Monet’s masterpieces. Ellsworth Kelly’s Tableau Vert was  framed by multiple drawings to guide the visitor into the Waterlilies galleries, a display made possible through AFMO’s support for an unusual exhibition celebrating history, art, beauty, and peace. AFMO is proud to have made it possible for the Ellsworth Kelly works of art to be part of this stunning Franco-American exhibition.

Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952). Pioneer American Woman Photographer

Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952). Pioneer American Woman Photographer

AFMO acquired for the Orsay the last portfolio available on the market of 119 works by Frances B. Johnston, one of the most important photographers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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In 2015, Johnston was one of the stars of the large two-part exhibition on female photographers at the Orsay and the Orangerie, an exhibition in collaboration with the Library of Congress. Johnston’s photographs also are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA and the National Portrait Gallery.

Marble Sculptures Cleaning Project

Marble Sculptures Cleaning Project

Since the museum opened in 1986, the most highly-prized marble sculptures have been exhibited in the main nave and the two adjoining terraces.

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Visitors stroll among masterpieces by Pradier and Carpeaux, Rodin and Maillol. Thirty years later, grime and dirt mark the passage of time. AFMO contributed to the restoration and cleaning of 41 sculptures to bring them back to their state of grace.

Marcie-Rivière Collection

Marcie-Rivière Collection

In January 2016, the Musée d’Orsay received the Zeïneb and Jean-Pierre Marcie-Rivière Collection of 50 paintings and 89 drawings by Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard.

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This extraordinarily generous gesture represents a special event in the history of French collections and the Musée d’Orsay was proud to add this donation to its prized Nabi holdings. AFMO granted funds for the protective box framing of the 50 paintings. Box framing is a recently developed technique that shields the paint layer against moisture and temperature variations behind a thin pane of anti-reflective glass.

 AFMO also supported the edition of the Marcie-Rivière Collection exhibition catalog.
Catalog "Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism"

Catalog “Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism”

AFMO supported the English version of the catalog.

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The exhibition held in 2016, focused on Bazille’s contribution to the concerns of avant-garde painting in the 1860’s – modern life, the renewal of traditional genres such as portraits, nudes and still lives.

Catalog "An American in Paris: Architectural Drawings from the Neil Levine Collection"

Catalog “An American in Paris: Architectural Drawings from the Neil Levine Collection”

The American Friends were pleased to support the catalog, published bilingually in English and French for the 2016 exhibition of Neil Levine’s unique collection of architectural drawings.

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The exhibition and the accompanying catalog testify to the importance of both the drawings in the context of the Orsay’s collections and the 19th-century French architects’ and American historians’ renewed interest in them in the 1970s. In 2012, Neil Levine donated his collection to the Musée d’Orsay via the procedures that AFMO put in place for American donors to encourage gifts of art.

Monet Water Lilies Galleries Renovation

Monet Water Lilies Galleries Renovation

In April 2015, AFMO announced a grant of 65,000 € toward improvements in the galleries which hold some of the premiere cultural attractions in all of France.

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AFMO’s commitment supports the refurbishment of the lighting in the Orangerie’s legendary oval galleries that holds Monet’s world-renowned Water Lilies (Les Nymphéas). The celebrated Impressionist artist gave these works to the French State on Nov.12, 1918, the day after the Armistice which ended World War I. Since the paintings were installed in the Orangerie Museum in 1927, millions of visitors from all over the world have marveled at these monumental and cherished masterpieces. Through the support of our members and event participants, including a major gift from an individual donor, AFMO is proud to make this contribution toward these renovations at the Orangerie.

Restoration of Gustave Courbet's Masterpiece "The Artist's Studio"

Restoration of Gustave Courbet’s Masterpiece “The Artist’s Studio”

Legendary French artist Gustave Courbet’s large-scale masterpiece The Artist’s Studio was initially acquired with help from public donations. Now over one hundred years old,

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the renowned work is in a fragile state, largely due to its poor storage conditions before it entered the national collections. Restoration of the painting is a priority for the Musée d’Orsay. The conservation work will take place in situ to let the public experience all that is involved in such a mammoth project. The project is the beneficiary of the Museum’s first ever crowd-funding initiative in France (ulule.com/courbet). As of October 2014 the campaign had surpassed its initial goal, showing the public’s affinity for this beloved masterpiece. Also, corporate support has come from Bank of America Merrill Lynch Art Conservation Project and Saint-Gobain. The budget is approximately $760,000.  In 2013, AFMO granted $50,000 toward this project and was pleased to announce a second grant of $ 150,000 in 2015!

Catalog "Archives of the Dream"

Catalog “Archives of the Dream”

In 2014 the American Friends Musée d’Orsay supported the catalog for the upcoming exhibition at the musée de l’Orangerie:  “Archives of the Dream, Drawings from the Musee d’Orsay – Carte Blanche for Werner Spies“.

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This exhibition selects drawings from more than 100,000 archived in the museum and focuses mainly on French artists from the 19th century with special attention on artists of the Modernity, such as Degas, Manet, and Redon. Page by page, the catalog confronts the 19th century artist with contemporary artists, writers, film makers – Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, Fernando Botero, David Hockney, Amish Kapoor, and Wim Wenders among them – exploring their unique emotions and developing the paradox of “archives of the dream” featured in the title.

Herter Chaise Longue

Herter Chaise Longue

In 2012, the American Friends Musee d’Orsay gave an exquisite pair of “Moorish-style” chairs to the museum, originally commissioned in 1880 from the New York-based Herter Brothers for the Vanderbilt mansion.

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Earlier this year, curator Yves Badetz, in charge of acquisitions, approached us with their discovery in the south of France of a Herter Brother chaise longue.  Approved by our board a few months later, the museum purchased the piece, which is currently in its restoration department to repair the badly damaged legs and upholstery. Paying tribute to the master craftsmen, they strive to re-create its original splendor. The Herter Brothers were the interior designers of choice for the wealthy barons of America’s “Gilded Age”, known for designing the famous Red Room in the White House under President Ulysses S. Grant. Having left Germany in the mid-19th century, the Herter family continued the fine woodworking traditions of the “old world” in their new homeland and quickly rose to fame and fortune as cabinet makers and interior designers for America’s “first families”. Yves Badetz sought the acquisition of the chairs and chaise longue so visitors can compare the different aesthetic tastes in style and decor in 19th century France and the United States.

Catalog "A Passion for France"

Catalog “A Passion for France”

A hightlight in 2013 was undoubtly the exhibition A Passion For France – The Marlene and Spencer Hays collection. Our eminent board member Spencer Hays and his wife Marlene

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focused a large part of their outstanding collection of 19th century and early 20th century works on the Nabis movement, from 1890 – 1900. Many of these masterpieces (with works of Vuillard, Bonnard, Redon, Denis and many more) were exhibited in France for the first time. Thanks to the generous support of Sotheby’s,  the American Friends Musée d’Orsay sponsored the English catalog of  “A Passion for France: The Marlene and Spencer Hays Collection“.

Herter Chairs

Herter Chairs

Fall 2012, AFMO granted funds for the Orsay to purchase a pair of rare “Moorish style” chairs made in the 1880s by the New York firm, Herter Brothers.  The Herter Brothers firm, were the interior designers of choice for the wealthy barons of America’s “Gilded Age.”

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The Herter Brothers were most known for their decoration of the Red Room, in the White House, during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant.  The seats and backs of the chairs are made of green tufted velvet, which are framed with ornate carving in ebony and ivory inlay.  The chairs could have been the same ones seen in early photos of the mansion belonging to railroad magnate Mark Hopkins, located on Nob Hill, San Francisco.  They were more likely part of the collection of the immense William H. Vanderbilt residence, located on 640 Fifth Avenue in New York. The Vanderbilts entrusted the entire design of their residence to the Herter Brothers. The fine pointed backs of the Chairs, and pierced carving, evoke Arabic calligraphy and ancient Syrian metal inlays, giving them their “Moorish” character.  They are examples of the eclectic taste seen in the United States between 1875 and 1885. The Herter family emigrated from Germany to the United States in the mid- 19th century. The father trained his sons in old world woodworking traditions, enabling them to become the cabinet-makers and interior designers for “first families.”  Acquisitions curator Yves Badetz sought the acquisition to offer visitors to the Orsay a basis of comparison of aesthetic tastes of the 19th century.

Degas and The Nude

Degas and The Nude

In March, 2012 a grant was received from the Annenberg Foundation to support the Musée d’Orsay’s exhibition Degas and the Nude, a collaboration between the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Musée d’Orsay.

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The exhibition was shown in Paris March 12 – July 1, 2012. It included a rare opportunity to see Edgar Degas’ intimate pastels of the nude, seldom on view due to their fragile nature.

Saving Liberty

Saving Liberty

This spring, AFMO funded the restoration of a bronze figure of Liberty Enlightening the World by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. Bartholdi cast the bronze from one of his preliminary studies for his colossal New York sculpture more popularly known as the “Statue of Liberty.”

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The 9-foot tall Liberty stood next to the Sénat building in the Jardins de Luxembourg for over 100 years. It was removed from the park in December 2011 after it was damaged by vandalism. AFMO celebrated the restoration with an inauguration reception on July 2, 2012. Learn more and view photos »

Symposium on artist Henry Osawa Tanner

Symposium on artist Henry Osawa Tanner

AFMO supported a free public symposium held November 9-10, 2011 at the Musée d’Orsay on the career of pioneering African American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner .

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The symposium was a collaboration between the Terra Foundation, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Orsay. It explored the racial and cultural identities of African American artists in France from the 19th century to the present day, featuring scholarly presentations by Richard Powell, Marc Simpson, Renee Ater, Anna Lafont, and Sarah Wilson, among others.

Manet, the Man Who Invented Modernity

Manet, the Man Who Invented Modernity

In July 2011, through the generous support of Bank of America, AFMO granted funds to support the retrospective exhibition Manet, the Man who Invented Modernity, held April 5 through July 17, 2011.

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Often credited with beginning the move towar d“Modern Art,” the highly personal subject matter of Manet’s paintings, the manner in which they were painted, and the way he chose to show and market his work, were totally new for his time. Curated by the Orsay’s Stéphane Guégan, this was the first major exhibition in France devoted to Manet since the memorable 1983 exhibition at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, organized by Françoise Cachin, former director of the Musée d’Orsay.

Graphic Arts Gallery

Graphic Arts Gallery

In April 2011, through a grant from American Express Corporation, AFMO awarded a grant in support of renovations of a fifth floor gallery for the display of works on paper. The new gallery represents one of the major museographic renovations of the “new Orsay.”

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The state-of-the-art “cabinet” displays fragile works of art on paper that are of great scientific and aesthetic value. Due to the Orsay’s recent addition of masterpieces from the Louvre’s archives, more of the museum’s collection of drawings, sketches, photographs and pastels will be available for public viewing. In addition to the “cabinet,” a studio for restoration and framing of the objects is planned to conserve and protect this important cultural heritage of the 19th century.