The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York is launching a one-year collaboration with athletic shoe and clothing brand Converse. Education is in the crux of the partnership, with Converse providing financial support in an unspecified sum for the Guggenheim’s internship programme, matching students with museum professionals in fields and positions including graphic design, education, registrar and curatorial. The brand's internship support currently focuses on the Guggenheim’s New York branch, although students from Guggenheim Bilbao will participate in the programme as visiting cohort members.
Additionally, the brand will grant fiscal support to the Innovation Lab Series, an initiative that invites professional architects, artists and designers whose practices involve working with students in the New York City area. The first manifestation of the Converse partnership will be a performance by artist Jerron Herman, Rest, which will be staged at the museum tomorrow (9 November), presented through Innovation Lab Series’s partnering with the Center for Disability Studies at New York University.
“We are a public space that stimulates different possibilities and exchange, not only for artists but creative people in general,” says Cyra Levenson, the Guggenheim’s deputy director and director of education and public engagement. “Invitation of diverse thought leaders helps us [re-imagine] the museum for different engagements, and connection with the street culture beyond the boundaries of the art world is one of those.”
Herman’s one-night-only performance will showcase the artist’s engagement with the museum’s iconic rotunda as a person living with cerebral palsy. The evening will also feature textiles by Sugandha Gupta, gallery talks led by educators Georgina Kleege and Bojana Coklyat, and a screening of Notes from the Panorama, a video collaboration between artist Carolyn Lazard and writer Amber Rose Johnson. Levenson adds, “We will experience the Guggenheim as Jerron does, as a space of convening, possibilities—and I hope—being seen and heard for many.”
The museum’s partnership with Converse was born out of exploring the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building in an alternative way. Earlier this year, Olympic skateboarder and Converse brand ambassador Alexis Sablone skated down from the museum’s ramp to celebrate the launch of her sneakers. Sablone, who also studied architecture at the Massachusetts Intitute of Technology, was interested in re-imagining the building through a new lens.
The Guggenheim Innovation Lab Series’ next Converse-sponsored phase, in March 2024, will be a partnership with Parsons School of Design titled Kite City. The project, spearheaded by artist Marisa Moran Jahn and architect Rafi Segal, will use kites to explore the aerodynamic properties of the Guggenheim’s soaring rotunda.
Prior to its one-year partnership with Converse, the Guggenheim launched a five-year partnership with Korean electronics giant LG, which includes supporting the hiring of an art and technology curator—Noam Segal—and the launch of an annual, $100,000 prize for artists working with technology. The inaugural LG Guggenheim Award was given to Stephanie Dinkins, an artist working with artificial intelligence, last May.