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On June 1, the Guggenheim Museum’s annual fête, the Young Collectors Council Party (YCC), returned after a two-year hiatus. The event saw the New York institution’s iconic rotunda transformed by designers Jacolby Satterwhite and Tourmaline, and filled with committee members, event co-chairs, and artists, who were treated to dinner and DJ sets. 

This year’s party also welcomed a new guest into the Guggenheim’s fold: tech company LG Electronics, there to unveil its newly inked collaboration with the museum. And you couldn’t miss it, as projected on the Guggenheim’s façade were the massive neon letters that trumpeted, “LG Guggenheim Art and Technology Initiative.”

What happened

LG Guggenheim Art and Technology Initiative

To mark the launch of the LG Guggenheim Art and Technology Initiative, the YCC Party also featured the electronics company’s transparent OLED display. Image: Courtesy of LG Electronics

At the YCC Party, the Guggenheim Museum and LG announced their five-year partnership “to research, honor, and promote artists working at the intersection of art and technology.” The LG Guggenheim Art and Technology Initiative will encompass the LG Guggenheim Award, an annual prize honoring artists innovating in technology-based art, and LG Display’s sponsorship of the YCC Party until 2027.

Central to the partnership, too, is the appointment of a LG Electronics Assistant Curator to the museum. A research-based position under the supervision of the Guggenheim’s senior curatorial staff, it will actively support the institution’s engagement with digital art. Specifically, the role is intended to deepen the museum’s understanding of how contemporary art is interacting with creative and emerging technologies not limited to AR, VR, AI, NFTs, and the metaverse, with the goal of also developing scholarship and consumer-facing content. 

Why it matters

LG Electronics’ LG OLED TVs have served as a display mechanism for digital works by the likes of Refik Anadol at König Galerie and Kevin McCoy at Frieze New York (above). Image: Courtesy of LG Electronics

That the Guggenheim lays claim to a major cultural footprint goes without saying, though less frequently discussed are the institution’s ventures into the tech sphere. In the last decade, the museum has forged partnerships with the likes of Google and Intel for initiatives that explored the new potential of creative technologies as much as burgeoning forms like online video art. This partnership with LG looks set to amplify the Guggenheim’s presence in the field, accelerating the museum’s investigations into how new technologies are reshaping art-making. 

NFTs, in particular, might well be forefronting the collaboration considering the medium’s outsized growth and LG’s own expertise in the space — LG OLED TVs have served as displays for works by Refik Anadol at König Galerie and Kevin McCoy at Frieze New York. As cultural institutions increasingly look to Web3 — moving beyond mere sales of NFTs to launch their own NFT platforms or rethink art patronage — it’s handy, if not plain necessary, to have blockchain and metaversal know-how on their side (also why the Museum of Modern Art is hiring a Web3 associate). 

And even off-chain, the LG Guggenheim Art and Technology Initiative, if successful, bodes well for how the museum might better champion digital art — expanding its platform, while recognizing its creators — itself a field that’s often been left wanting for institutional support. 

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What they said

“By promoting scholarship and public engagement, the LG Guggenheim initiative will provide essential support to the visionary artists who inspire new understanding of how technology shapes and is shaped by society.” — Naomi Beckwith, Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, Guggenheim Museum

“We look forward to making available our exclusive innovations to the creative community and helping define the role of technology in this century as the enabling medium for human expressions and experiences.” — Seol Park, Head of Brand Management, LG Corp

Categories

Cultural Collaborations, CultureTech, Museums & Cultural Institutions, NFTs