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Dasha Zhukova backs $1m artist residency at MIT

The Russian arts patron credits her microbiologist mother for an interest in science and technology

The Russian collector and philanthropist Dasha Zhukova is donating $1m to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to establish a “distinguished visiting artist” position.

The spot will be awarded to an artist, architect or designer and covers a one-to-two-year residency at the MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology where they will be encouraged to conduct new research and develop a body of work in collaboration with the faculty, students and researchers. The first appointment will be made in time for the academic year starting in 2016, and will extend through June 2018.  

The gift is Zhukova’s first major contribution to a university. Married to the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, she founded the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow in 2008, the first philanthropic organisation in Russia with a public mandate for contemporary art and culture.

Zhukova calls MIT a “true hub of creativity”, in a statement, adding that she has recently been devoting a lot of time and energy “to projects at the intersection of technology and the arts; for me, the fusion of these worlds is where cutting edge creativity and innovation takes place”. She credits her shared interest in science and technology to her mother, a microbiologist and lover of classical music.

The donation will “create unparalleled opportunities for MIT to foster collaborations and inspire new artistic work”, says Philip Khoury, the Ford International Professor of History and Associate Provost, who oversees the arts at MIT.