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"GUGGENHEIM AND HERMITAGE MUSEUMS ANNOUNCE JOINT INITIATIVE AT THE VENETIAN IN LAS VEGAS"
2000-10-31 until 2001-03-01
Guggenheim Museum
New York, NY, USA

Dr. Mikhail Shwydkoi, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation; Thomas Krens, Director, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; Peter B. Lewis, Chairman of the Board, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; Sheldon Adelson, Chairman, The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino; and Rob Goldstein, President, The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino, today announced at a press conference in Las Vegas plans to create a cooperative exhibition space in The Venetian. The new 7,660-square-foot structure, to be called the Hermitage-Guggenheim Museum, has been designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas. The museum will open in Spring 2001 with the exhibition Masterpieces from the Hermitage and Guggenheim Collections. Dr. Mikhail Piotrovski, Director of the State Hermitage Museum, the co-designer of the collaboration with Thomas Krens, was unable to attend the press conference in person, but participated in presenting the project through a telephone link-up with St. Petersburg.

The Las Vegas cooperation between the Hermitage and the Guggenheim is one of the first concrete projects to result from a larger, long-term collaboration agreement between the Hermitage and the Guggenheim that was signed and announced this past June in St. Petersburg. The strategic objectives of the alliance include making each museum's respective collections accessible to a broader audience. The cooperation agreement was co-signed by Dr. Mikhail Shwydkoi, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, who spoke at today's press conference in Las Vegas, and was strongly endorsed by Vladimir Putin, President of the Russia Federation, during a visit to the Guggenheim on September 7 with Drs. Piotrovski and Shwydkoi to open an exhibition of early 20th century Russian avant-garde art. At the opening ceremony President Putin specifically acclaimed the unique and innovative character of this cooperation between the State Hermitage and the Guggenheim. Dr. Shwydkoi said that The significance of the Hermitage-Guggenheim Museum is exceptional for Russian-American cultural relations. With its establishment, we are reaching one of our long-term goals: to introduce masterpieces from Russian and American museum collections into worldwide cultural circulation.

Thomas Krens, Director, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, said of the new Las Vegas museum: The Hermitage is one of the greatest museums in the world. Its collections are equivalent to those of the Louvre or the Metropolitan, but they stop at the beginning of the 20th century. The Guggenheim collections range from the late-19th century to the present, with a strong representation of postwar modern and contemporary art; the Guggenheim also has one of the most active special exhibition programs of any museum in the world. By combining our expertise and drawing from two great collections and programs, the Hermitage and the Guggenheim working together can create both a brand new range of superb cultural narratives and exhibitions, as well as new facilities and institutions.

Dr. Piotrovski and I believe that Las Vegas presents a unique opportunity to communicate with millions of people from all over the world that visit this extraordinary city. The curatorial staffs of the Guggenheim and Hermitage will create small, focused special exhibitions, largely if not exclusively drawn from our combined collections. These exhibitions will also be shown in St. Petersburg, New York, Bilbao and Venice as part of an international tour, increasing awareness between our two cultures, providing significant benefits to the public at large.

Dr. Piotrovski stressed the importance of the curatorial and scholarly integrity of the exhibitions program for Las Vegas. We are not entering into this project anticipating anything other than the most exacting and demanding standards of quality, both with the exhibitions and the design of the building. By selecting a Pritzker Prize-winning architect to design the new Hermitage Guggenheim Museum Las Vegas, we are emphasizing the importance of architecture. We are also working on a series of exhibitions that will easily be appropriate for presentation in any of the greatest museums in the world.

Sheldon Adelson, Chairman of The Venetian said that Las Vegas receives an astonishing 35 million visitors a year. The Hermitage-Guggenheim Museum will be a tremendous attraction for those visitors. By collaborating with the Guggenheim and Hermitage museums, The Venetian will bring some of the greatest masterpieces ever created to a city that is rapidly being transformed into a world-class travel destination.

In keeping with the cooperative nature of the collaboration, the new museum will be known both as the Hermitage-Guggenheim Museum Las Vegas, and the Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum Las Vegas. At a meeting in St. Petersburg in September, Dr. Piotrovski and Mr. Krens decided that the major exterior signage on the building would identify the museum as Hermitage-Guggenheim Museum, and that the major interior signage would say Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum.

Exhibition Space:

The Hermitage-Guggenheim Museum has been designed within The Venetian by Rem Koolhaas. This intimate, jewel box-like space will present masterworks in a uniquely contemporary setting. Its walls are constructed of Cor-Ten steel, a material associated with the large-scale sculpture of such artists as Richard Serra–it has never before been used in this way in a museum gallery. Mr. Koolhaas is considered one of the most important forces in contemporary architecture. The winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize for 2000, he has completed a number of projects in Europe that have won high praise from critics, including the Kunsthal in Rotterdam (1992) and the Eura-Lille Masterplan and Grand Palais (1994). Currently in progress are a series of major commissions including the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin, and the new Public Library in Seattle. Mr. Koolhaas is equally known for his theoretical and academic work, which has influenced a generation of architects. His books Delirious New York (1978) and S, M, L, XL (1995) established Koolhaas as a leading thinker in contemporary architecture. He has held teaching positions at various institutions worldwide since 1975 and is currently a professor at Harvard University.

Opening Exhibition:

The inaugural exhibition, Masterpieces from the Hermitage and Guggenheim Collections, will be a selection of 40 works representing Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and early Modernism drawn equally from both institutions' holdings. The exhibition builds on the distinct but highly complementary strengths of the two collections. The exhibition begins chronologically and features important works by Bonnard, Cézanne, Chagall, Kandinsky, Léger, Matisse, Modigliani, Monet, Picasso, and Renoir, among others. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by the Guggenheim, with an introduction by Thomas Krens, Director, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and Mikhail Piotrovski, Director, State Hermitage Museum.

Several of the Guggenheim's contributions to the exhibition are works from the Thannhauser Collection, an extensive suite of early Modern masterpieces donated to the museum by the German-born dealer and collector Justin K. Thannhauser (1892-1976) and his wife Hilde. Other works are gifts from Solomon R. Guggenheim's private collection, or later museum purchases, exchanges, and donations. Most of the Hermitage paintings in the exhibition were originally part of the private collections of Sergei Shchukin (1854-1936) and Ivan Morosov (1871-1921), two prominent Russian businessmen who at an early stage developed world-class collections of French paintings.


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