Banks: not as bad as they are painted

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Fresh from its sponsorship of the blockbuster Henri Matisse: The Cutouts exhibition at London’s Tate Modern gallery, Bank of America Merrill Lynch was set to announce the 2014 grant recipients under its Art Conservation Project on June 12 at the Society of Antiquaries in Burlington House.

Established in 2010 this initiative has now funded the restoration of 70 works of art in 25 countries around the world. These included Picasso’s Woman Ironing at the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum in New York and photographs from the personal collection of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at La Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City. 

The project was expanded in 2013 to fund 25 unique projects in 17 countries. These range from the conservation of three iconic paintings by Jackson Pollock in The Museum of Modern Art’s collection to the conservation of three historically important portraits from the Tudor period at the National Portrait Gallery in London – via projects in Shanghai, Tokyo, Melbourne, Berlin, Istanbul, Johannesburg, São Paulo and many more. 

As banks struggle to rehabilitate themselves with the public after the financial crisis, sponsorship of the arts is becoming an important avenue through which to communicate the idea that the industry is not all bad. Funding expensive restoration work at not-for-profit museums must surely go some way towards that.