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Art Museums Launch Fellowship, Summer Institute Through Donations

By Theo C. Lebryk, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard Art Museums received over $1.5 million in donations this month for a new fellowship and summer program.

Business School alumnus Ken Hakuta announced a $1 million donation Dec. 1 that will go towards funding a two year fellowship for research on renowned 20th century artist Nam June Paik. Paik, who passed away in 2006, was Hakuta’s uncle.

The fellowship will be open to postdoctoral scholars and is meant not only to contribute to the existing scholarship on Paik but also to train the fellow for future jobs in curation, according to Mary S. Enriquez, the Harvard Art Museums’ associate curator of modern and contemporary art.

“[Paik] was a real visionary. He was not just a visual artist—he was a so many things and that’s why there is so much to research about him,” Hakuta said of the artist.

Enriquez concurred with Hakuta’s assessment of Paik.

“Paik was one of incredibly revolutionary artist who mixed music, sculpture, and performance. He fused things together in a really fresh, innovative way,” she said.

Hakuta said Harvard’s legacy as a training ground for leaders in the field of art history influenced his decision to donate.

“There’s a lot of synergy with what the Harvard Art Museums do,” Hakuta said. “I see that the top curators are Harvard educated and it's where the great art minds are trained.”

Enriquez said she was excited to work with the fellow because “new minds coming in helps us all learn and keep us vital.”

“This fellowship gives them experience for curating, doing research, and interacting with different audiences,” Enriquez said.

In addition to the monetary gift, Hakuta donated approximately 10 pieces of Paik’s work to the Art Museums’ Paik collection.

Four days after the Hakuta gift, the Art Museums received $506,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. According to a press release, the money will go toward a summer institute for art history graduate students interested in “object-focused technical inquiry, methodologies, and instruction.”

The program’s first class of approximately 15 fellows from across North America will arrive in June 2017 and participate in two weeks of classes.

“The Summer Institute for Technical Studies in Art will expose emerging scholars and aspiring museum professionals to meaningful object-based experiences, and will help them establish a professional network committed to interdisciplinary collaboration in the areas of conservation and physical history of art,” Martha Tedeschi, the Director of the Art Museums, said in the press release.

—Staff writer Theo C. Lebryk can be reached at theo.lebryk@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @theo_lebryk.

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