Survey: Renaissance Society

Posted August 05, 2010 by Anonymous
Part 1.
Year Founded: 
Before 1950
1c. Organization's annual budget.: 
Over $1,000,000
1b. Primary activity[ies] of the organization.: 
Exhibition Space
Part 2.
2a. Mission Statement: 
The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago is a world class non-collecting museum of contemporary art. Through exhibitions, commissions, publications, and educational programs, The Society advances the growth and understanding of the artistic ideas and expressions of our time. Founded in 1915, The Society exhibits and promotes artists whose work questions, expands, and re-imagines the aesthetic boundaries of the visual arts.
2b. Organization History / Organizational Overview. Index of important events in organization's history.: 
HISTORY More than 90 years ago, a group of University of Chicago faculty joined together to establish “an experimental laboratory” focused on the forefront of the visual arts. Embodying the same ideals as the University, The Renaissance Society was intended to support an artistic commitment to discovery and to stimulate an interdisciplinary approach to “the new renaissance” through a focus on art of the present moment. This goal was brought to fruition with the leadership of Eva Watson Schutze, an active member of the Photo-Secession’s avant-garde circle and one of The Society’s first professional staff members. Schutze advanced a bold modernist agenda through an ambitious program of exhibitions, publications, film screenings, music, and lecture programs. During the 1920s and 1930s, The Renaissance Society provided a midwestern forum for Matisse, Brancusi, Noguchi, Braque, Picasso, Picabia and Mondrian, mounting major exhibitions of Cubism and abstraction, including the ground-breaking Léger retrospective (1936) which subsequently traveled to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1931, Modern American Architecture was one of the nation’’s first exhibitions to present contemporary architecture in a museum context. Schutze believed firmly that “the art of the past cannot be understood without an intelligent comprehension of the art of our own times.” This vision fixed The Society’s direction throughout her tenure and during the years ahead. The Renaissance Society continued to flourish throughout the middle years of the century, playing a central role in the development of modern installation design. The Society pioneered the use of white gallery walls and presented exhibitions designed by James Johnson Sweeney (“A Selection of Works by 20th Century Artists” 1934) and Mies van der Rohe (“Theo van Doesburg: Paintings, Drawings, Photographs” 1947). Distinguished educational programs and performances complemented the Society’s innovative exhibitions, and featured such luminaries as Le Corbusier, Zora Neale Hurston, Archipenko, Serge Prokofieff, Alfred Barr, Leonard Bernstein, Gertrude Stein, and Paul Tillich. Since 1974, Executive Director Susanne Ghez has expanded The Society’s international reputation as the Midwest’s leading museum dedicated to new art and ideas. Over the last several decades, her curatorial rigor has brought to audiences work by now-legendary artists including Robert Smithson, Louise Bourgeois, Anselm Kiefer, Georg Baselitz, Nancy Spero, On Kawara, Juan Muñoz, Thomas Struth, Luc Tuymans, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Martin Kippenberger. CURRENT / OVERVIEW Each year, The Renaissance Society organizes and presents 4–5 exhibitions featuring solo and group shows by contemporary artists. With each exhibition season, The Society aims to bring the world to Chicago and to place Chicago in the world. Maintaining a mix of local, national and international artists allows the Society to present to the Midwest artists whose work reflects larger trends in the visual arts. At the same time, it allows The Society to situate local artists within the context of these broader developments. Exhibitions are complemented with a provocative mix of publications and educational programs, including artist talks, lectures, readings, concerts, and performances. All educational events are curatorially-driven and designed to complement the exhibitions so that the viewer can form a more complete understanding of the diversity and complexity of art in all its forms. The museum’s publication program is one of the most permanent manifestations of The Society’s contribution to the local and international arts communities. All exhibitions are accompanied by a poster/invitation offering an introductory essay and images of work on view. The Society also publishes artist books and scholarly catalogues to support selected exhibitions each season. These are often the first major monograph for artists shown at The Society, and they provide important critical writing, as well as documentation of the artist’s work. The Renaissance Society cultivates and attracts a diverse audience of 40,000 annually, with 80% of visitors coming from the Chicago metropolitan area and 20% representing national and international tourists, including artists, collectors, and museum professionals. With its location on Chicago’s southside, the museum also has a strong representation from the University of Chicago community and the Hyde Park/Kenwood neighborhoods. Admission to all exhibitions and events is free. The gallery is open to the public Tuesday through Friday, 10am – 5pm, and Saturday-Sunday, noon – 5pm (hours coincide with other campus museums). Despite its name, The Renaissance Society has no legal or fiscal relationship with the University of Chicago. The University provides non-cash support to The Renaissance Society through rent-free gallery space, heat and electricity, and the use of the University’’s administrative support services. The Society is responsible for raising its entire budget annually, including salaries and benefits.
Website Link to Organization's History / Organization Overview:
2c. Exhibition / Programming / Publishing History.: 
EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS 1915-1969: Henri Matisse (1930); Alexander Calder (1934); Fernand Léger (1936); Lazlo Moholy-Nagy (1939); John Sloan (1942); Käthe Kollwitz, Paul Klee (1946), Mies van der Rohe (1947); Diego Rivera (1949); Jose Clemente Orozco (1951); Marc Chagall (1958); Réné Magritte (1964) and Henry Moore (1967) 1970-1979: Robert Smithson (1976); Joseph Kosuth (1976); Lawrence Weiner (1978); Hans Haacke (1979); and “Visionary Images” featuring Jonathan Borofsky, Robert Moskowitz, Julian Schnabel, and Donald Sultan (1979). 1980-1989: Robert Mangold and Robert Ryman, “In the Realm of The Monochromatic” (1980); “Ed Paschke Selected Works 1967-1981” (1981); Louise Bourgeois (1981); “A Fatal Attraction: Art and the Media” with Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger, Matt Mullican, Cindy Sherman, and Eric Bogosian (1982); “Eva Hesse: A Retrospective of the Drawings” (1982); Chia, Clemente, Cucchi, Merz, and Paladino in “Contemporary Italian Masters” (1983); Daniel Buren (1983); Jeff Wall (1984); “The Meditative Surface” featuring Jasper Johns, Julian Schnabel, Terry Winters, and Susan Rothenberg (1984); Anselm Kiefer and George Baselitz (1984); Nancy Spero (1984); James Coleman (1985); “New Sculpture” featuring Robert Gober, Jeff Koons, and Haim Steinbach (1986); “Austrian Drawings” with Gunther Brus, Herman Nitsch, and Arnulf Rainer (1986); Peter Fischli and David Weiss (1987); On Kawara (1988); and Mike Kelley (1988). 1990-1999: Juan Muñoz (1990); Hanne Darboven (1990); Michael Asher (1990); Thomas Struth (1990); Niele Toroni (1990); Jessica Stockholder (1991); Isa Genzken (1992); Gaylen Gerber (1992); Miroslaw Balka (1992); Judith Barry (1992); Zoe Leonard (1993); Lothar Baumgarten (1993); Robin Winters (1993); Jean Marc Bustamante (1993); Rodney Carswell (1993); Narelle Jubelin (1994); Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1994); Luc Tuymans (1995); Diana Thater (1995); Stan Douglas (1995); Albert Oehlen (1995); Rodney Graham (1995); Heimo Zobernig (1996); Persona featuring Vanessa Beecroft, Sharon Lockhart, Lyle Ashton Harris, Catherine Opie (1996); Katy Schimert (1997); Kara Walker (1997); Kerry James Marshall (1998); Raymond Pettibon (1998); Willie Doherty (1999), Darren Almond (1999), and Moshekwa Langa (1999). 2000-present: “Thomas Hirschhorn: World Airport” (2000); “Pierre Huyghe: The Third Memory” (2000); Franz West (2000); Martin Kippenberger (2000); Katarzyna Kozyra (2001); Helen Mirra (2001); “Feng Mengbo: Q4U” (2002); “Catherine Sullivan: Five Economies” (2002); “Amar Kanwar: Of Poetry and Prophesies” (2003); Mark Manders (2003); Laura Letinsky (2004); “Joan Jonas: The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things” (2004); “Yang Fudong: 5 Films” (2004); “Su-Mei Tse: The Ich-Manifestation” (2005); Rebecca Morris (2005); “Yutaka Sone: Forecast: Snow” (2006); Mai-Thu Perret (2006); and Avery Preesman (2006). PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHTS Educational events consist of lectures, readings, concerts, film screenings, performances, and artist talks. The Society hosts a public talk with the exhibiting artist on the occasion of each exhibition’s opening. In order to provide a rich and multivalent context in which to consider contemporary visual expression, The Society also engages an interdisciplinary approach toward event programming. For instance, with respect to lectures and readings, featured guests from a variety of fields (such as architecture, law, and political science) are invited to either address an artist’s work directly or present work that raises relevant issues. Over the past decade, The Renaissance Society has presented a series of contemporary music concerts that both further complement its exhibitions and help to engage new music audiences with contemporary visual art. Focusing on compositions from the last three decades, these performances have won a strong following within the new music community and have featured musicians with local, national and international reputations, including: Dutch clarinetist Harry Sparnaay, American cellist Frances-Marie Uitti, New York electronic musician Phill Niblock, Japanese violinist Tomoko Kiba, American trombonist Michael Svoboda, Brazilian pianist Paulo Alvarez, French violist Vincent Royer, German composer Helmut Lachenmann, Chinese pipa player Min Xiao-Fen, German trumpeter Axel Dorner, and composer and bass soloist Stefano Scodanibbio. Regular collaborators for The Society’s music program include The Arts Club of Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Northwestern University, and Lampo. The Society has attracted audiences from Chicago’s literary community by presenting readings by distinguished contemporary authors and poets, including Ben Marcus, Diran Adebayo, Caryl Phillip, Harryette Mullen, Suzan-Lori Parks, Sara Suleri, William Tester, Diane Williams, Rosmarie Waldrop, Lyn Hejinian, and Bob Perelman. Partners for these events include The Poetry Center, The Guild Complex, Dalkey Archive, The DuSable Museum of African American History, and Onyx Theatre Ensemble. PUBLICATIONS: The Society’s catalogues have featured writings by some of the most prominent scholars, thinkers, and historians in the field of visual arts. A partial list since the inception of The Society’s publishing program in the 1930s includes: Craig Adcock, Dennis Adrian, Dore Ashton, Jan Avgikos, Carol Becker, Homi Bhabha, Marie-Ange Brayer, Benjamin Buchloh, Lynne Cooke, Joshua Decter, Diedrich Diederichsen, Colin Gardner, Ann Goldstein, Boris Groys, bell hooks, Mary Jane Jacob, Judith Kirshner, Liz Kotz, Timothy Martin, David Pagel, Carter Ratcliff, Peter Schjeldahl, Susan Stryker, Maria Tatar, Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann Temkin, Neville Wakefield, Jeff Wall, and Mark Wigley.
Part 3.
3a. Names and email addresses of Founders, Board Members, Directors or other key individuals:: 
Susanne Ghez
3b. Could any of these individuals assist in providing an oral history of your organization?: 
Part 4.
4a. Is organization currently active?: 
4b. Year activity suspended if no longer active.: 
Organization Still Active
Part 5.
5a. Type of organization at its founding.: 
Collective / Unincorporated Association
5b. Type of organization currently, or at the termination of activities.: 
Non-Profit [IRS certified]
Part 6.
6a. Does the organization have an archive?: 
6b. Are there any short or long-term threats to the organization?: 
None / Not Applicable
6c. Other threats to the organization:: 
Are there other threats to your organization? Please describe below.
Part 7.
7a. How important is to the organization to preserve the organization’s historical material. From 1 – Very Important to 5 – Not Important.: 
1. Very Important
7b. Has planning for the preservation and documentation of archive begun?: 
Our archive is already in place
7c. Does the organization know how and where to seek expertise and assistance?: 
7d. Does the organization have specific concerns regarding starting an archive working with its historic materials?: 
Drain on Existing Staff Time
Part 8.
8a. Is the organization's archives in the collection of another institution or promised to one?: 
8a. Location: 
The Renaissance Society’’s archives dating from 1915-1970 are preserved and currently housed in the Smithsonian’’s Archives of American Art. These records were also microfilmed. There are two sets of microfilm, maintained by the Archives of American Art and The Renaissance Society.
8b. Archival materials are also located at:: 
Where are these locations?: 
Where are these locations? [I.E. Home / Office of Private Individual(s) (i.e. Former Board, Staff, Funders, etc)]
Part 9.
9. Does the organization maintain archives for any other organization.: 
IF YES to 9: 10a. Please describe:
Part 10a.
10a. Is the archive accessible to scholars, curators or researchers?: 
Part 10b.
10b. Are there conditions of access for scholars, curators or researchers?: 
Part 10c.
10c. How are arrangements made for access to archive?: 
The Society’’s records dating from 1915-1970 are available for public access at the Archives of American Art in Washington, DC. The Society’’s set of microfilm of these records is accessible at the gallery by appointment. The Society’’s archives dating since 1970, which are currently housed at the gallery, are also accessible by appointment.
Part 11.
The following questions address the historical materials (type, quantity and storage) of the organization. 11a. Paper Files and Documents: 
Artist Files
Board Minutes
Exhibition or Production Files
Financial Records
Legal Documents
By-laws / Incorporation Documents
11b. Artwork and Documentation: 
Audiotapes [Any Format]
Other Audio Recordings (i.e. records, etc.)
CDs / DVDs [Pre-Recorded or CD-R / CD-RW / DVD-R / etc.]
Unique Art Objects
Other Artwork
11c. Press and Promotional Materials: 
Announcements, Mailing Cards, etc.
Newspaper / Magazine / Media Clippings
Posters / Flyers
Other Press or Promotional Materials:
11d. Printed Publications: 
Artists' Publications
Checklists / Performance Programs / Price Lists
Programs of Events
Publication or Merchandise Catalogues
Other Printed Publications - Please describe below.
exhibition posters and catalogues
11e. Other: 
Architectural Drawings / Floor Plan
Layouts / Sketches / Instructions for Installations
Part 12.
12. What years does the materials cover?: 
Part 13.
13a. How is the material stored?: 
Other Boxes
File Cabinets
Please describe: 
archival document boxes, slide file, digital formats
13b. Are some or all of these storage units “archival”?: 
Part 14.
14a. Estimated Number of Boxes or Milk-Crate Sized Storage Units: 
91 - 1000
14b. Estimated Number of Archive Drawers: 
14c. Estimated Number of Archive Notebooks: 
14d. Estimated the total Linear Feet. ["Linear Feet" is standard measure of the quantity of archival materials on the basis of shelf space occupied or the length of drawers in vertical files or the thickness of horizontally filed materials. For example, a: 
71 - 80
Other Archive Storage Units - Please describe below.: 
Housed at the Archives of American Art: 9.1 linear feet of records, also on 13 reels of microfilm, which were recently scanned onto 3 CDs.
Part 15.
15. Is the historical materials - or archives - inventoried or catalogued in any way, either formally or otherwise?: 
Part 16.
16a. Is there a key, index or finding aid to the materials inventoried?: 
16b. Paper-based:: 
Written or Typewritten Inventories
16c. Electronic Based:: 
Part 16 / Electronic Files & Archival Management
16f. Does the organization have a back-up program, or back-up schedule, for its electronic records and perform monitoring of its removable media (i.e. floppies, ZIP disks, CD-ROMs, DVDs, portable hard drives, etc.)?: 
16g. Who is responsible for working with the archival material?: 
Part-Time Archivist
Hired Out
Part 16 / Database
16d. What type of database software is in use?: 
Other “archives management software” - Please identify below.
1915-1970: catalogued on SIRIS (Smithsonian Institution Research Information System); post-1970: on website
Part 17.
17. How are new materials processed?: 
Manual System (Card File, File Folders)
Electronic (Database, etc.)
Part 18.
18. What, if any, conservation methods are in place for both physical materials and electronic data?: 
Acid-Free Housing
Part 19.
19. What type of climate-controls are present in the area[s] in which the archives are stored?: 
Standard office heating / air conditioning / humidity controls running 24 hours / 7 days
Other - Please describe below.
1915-1970: housed at Archives of American Art; post 1970: housed at The Renaissance Society
Part 20.
20a. What are the goals for the historical materials for the next year?: 
Catalogue scanned archives from 1915-1970
20b. What are the biggest challenges to reaching these short-term goals?: 
Funding, staffing
20c. What goals are in place for the historical materials for the next three to five years?: 
Complete digital archive for museum’s entire history 1915-present
20d. What are the biggest challenges to reaching these long term goals?: 
Funding, staff time
20e. Are there any additional goals for the organizations historic materials?: 
Part 21.
21. Estimated cost to achieve these archival goals for the next year.: 
$50,001 - $60,000
Part 22.
22. Estimated cost to achieve these archival goals for the next five years.: 
$90,001 - $100,000
Part 24.
24. What archival issues could / should visual arts organizations address collectively in the next three to five years? Ranked from 1 (highest priority) to 5 (lowest priority).24a. Shared standards / protocols for digitization: 
Promote professional standards / protocols for digitization
Part 25.
25a. Is the organization a member of, or in contact with, any organizations concerned with archival issues?: 
25b. Who?: 
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
The Renaissance Society
Is this survey complete and all appropriate questions answered?: