Rena de Sisto embodies the phrase “be the change you seek in the world”. For the past few years, she’s had enough of starting every morning looking at her phone and only getting bad news.
As the managing director of arts and culture at Bank of America, she had the platform to do something about it.
Activating longstanding relationships, de Sisto has enlisted 25 of the nation’s leading art institutions to participate in Bank of America’s new “Masterpiece Moment” program with a new video highlighting a masterpiece from each’s collection. museum which will open every other Monday morning throughout 2021.
“If you had something special like an art preview to look at, isn’t that a great way to start your day; that’s really what I thought,” de Sisto told Forbes.com of his motivation for “Masterpiece Moment,” which will premiere Jan. 18 with The Monumental by Mark Bradford 150 portrait tonesa searing examination of police brutality, from the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Short vignettes animated by the director of the museum where each piece is housed will be published every two weeks at a Bank of America Online Masterpiece Moment Landing Page as good as Youtube. In addition to brightening the days, de Sisto hopes the videos will give viewers a more accessible and digestible entry to the country’s greatest works of art than simply walking into a cold museum.
Think of each video as an introduction, not only to the work, but also to the artist, why the work was acquired, as well as the institution, all coming directly from the museum director, a figure that 99 9% of visitors don’t know, let alone never had the chance to hear from them.
“Masterpiece Moment” gives viewers insider perspectives on the artwork, which hopefully sparks further curiosity and then a visit. After watching, guests walking through the doors will be better equipped with a better knowledge of what they are watching to enhance their experience.
Museums were given the freedom to select the piece from their collection that they wanted to highlight.
Bradford’s LACMA Pick 150 portrait tones (2017) ticks many boxes.
The painting, measuring approximately 25 feet tall by 10 feet wide, was created by the Los Angeles native specifically for LACMA. It is one of the first works of art that visitors see upon entering the museum. Its subject matter, dealing with the police murder of Philando Castile, places it firmly in the tradition of art history‘s greatest commentaries on state violence, such as that of Francisco Goya. May 3, 1808 or Picasso Guernica.
“I was very aware that this is a new work in the history of art, but from the reaction we have received from the public and the engagement with this work, it seems quite clear that it is a masterpiece, an enduring work, so we’re betting on that idea, I think it’s a safe bet for the future,” said Michael Govan, CEO and Director of Wallis Annenberg, Los Angeles County Museums of Art (LACMA), to Forbes.com about his institution’s selection. 150 portrait tones for the “Masterpiece Moment” program.
The specific works chosen by the other 24 participating museums have yet to be revealed. Geographical balance influenced Sisto’s choice of museums and she says the artworks showcased will be just as varied.
In addition to covering the costs of producing the videos, participating museums will also share $2 million that Bank of America contributed to the program as part of a philanthropic grant.
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Bank of America has for decades been one of major corporate sponsors of the arts, supporting more than 2,000 non-profit cultural organizations each year. In addition to owning one of the largest collections of corporate artwork in the world, Bank of America is one of the largest sponsors of exhibitions in the United States. Bank of America Art Conservation Project has become an essential resource for the preservation of art history around the world, including in Los Angeles in Towers Watts.
“There’s a difference between a sponsorship and a partnership,” Govan said of LACMA’s relationship with Bank of America. “There is so much trust between Bank of America and its museums that have been involved in so many projects over time.”
In addition to direct financial support, Govan sees other benefits in participating in the project.
“Hopefully this will drive people to the important offerings online, but maybe not at this production value, which are now in every museum’s digital storage and accessible,” he said. “When we realized the details of what (the program) was and it was something we could never do on our own – that (Bank of America) was doing something in our museum that we couldn’t not allow us to do this year, but that they were connecting us all together – it seemed like the perfect project at the perfect time.
Bank of America’s ability to network all of these top institutions around the same agenda and encourage them to support each other by sharing their important online followings is expected to see the videos reach millions of people during 2021. and beyond.
“Plus, it’s also about the real museum, and to look at real objects up close is an invitation,” Govan said. “Someone said to me: ‘It really makes me want to go back to the museum as soon as it opens'”
Here is the full list of participating institutions in addition to LACMA:
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas
Denver Art Museum, Denver
The Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture, Charlotte, North Carolina
Georgia O’Keefe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Heard Museum, Phoenix
High Museum of Art, Atlanta
Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC
· Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.
Perez Museum of Art, Miami
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI
The San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York