Volkswagen and MoMA Launch Artistic Partnership

It's a growing trend among German carmakers: form partnerships with artists and museums to build brand awareness. Volkswagen is the latest to join the artistic fray as it partners with New York's Museum of Modern Art.

According to Volkswagen, the prime focus of the strategic partnership announced today in New York City lies in the project with the working title, “International Discovery,” the development of an international contemporary art exhibition. Further pillars of the partnership are the extension of the MoMA online education program, the donation of two works by Francis Alÿs, and the sponsorship of a series of installations in The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. This cooperation with Volkswagen is the first partnership of this scale between the prestigious New York cultural institution and a leading international corporation.

“Artists give us food for thought and let us look at the world from new angles. MoMA is one of the world's leading institutions in the field of contemporary art. With its persuasive expertise and its educational mission, it is our partner of choice. This partnership expresses our corporate commitment to take responsibility for the environment and for society”, said Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, in describing this cultural partnership.

“We are pleased to have a strong partner in Volkswagen, whose commitment to innovation and education aligns with the Museum’s,” said MoMA Director Glenn D. Lowry. “This partnership will enable MoMA and MoMA PS1 to realize longstanding goals and ambitious exhibitions and programs.”

In addition to VW, Fiat and Audi have been major sponsors of a Miami art show. BMW also has a worldwide partnership with the Guggenheim museums, including the one in New York. Makes you wonder if there could be some kind of road race between VW and BMW for museum supremacy in New York City. That could be the only way to decide it because both are great museums.

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The partnership between Volkswagen and MoMA and MoMA PS1 is based on four pillars, with a special focus on the international survey of new art to be presented at MoMA PS1 in 2013. With the “International Discovery” (working title), Klaus Biesenbach will bring together innovative works dealing with issues such as environmental protection, social justice, scarcity of resources, or population growth created by artists from all over the world to form a wide-ranging survey of new art.

The second pillar of the partnership is the extension of the MoMA’s online education program. Since the foundation of the Museum of Modern Art in 1929, one of the museum’s core missions has been to help a broad public understand modern and contemporary art. In this context, in 2010, the MoMA launched a successful digital learning initiative. With Volkswagen’s support, the program will be considerably expanded, giving people around the globe access to the courses. Another component of the partnership is on-site “Labs”, which will directly engage visitors with art-making processes and concepts.

Volkswagen will also support MoMA through donations of art and exhibition sponsorships. The company donated two video works by Francis Alÿs to the museum. The pieces entitled “Tornado” and “Mirage” are currently on display in the exhibition “Francis Alys: A Story of Deception” at MoMA and MoMA PS1 through August 1, 2011.

The fourth component of the partnership is support for installations in MoMA’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, one of New York City’s most beloved outdoor spaces.