Bard College receives $ 50 million for conservation studies from the Hessel Foundation and George Soros



The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCS Bard) announced last week that it had received a donation of $ 25 million from the Marieluise Hessel Foundation. Paired with an equal amount from billionaire investor George Soros, the donation is part of a new $ 50 million endowment for the center.

In April, Soros pledged a $ 500 million “challenge grant” to Bard’s endowment. This means that the college will receive the money if it can raise an amount equal to or greater than the billionaire’s pledge. So far, Bard has raised $ 250 million, with the intention of eventually raising an endowment of $ 1 billion, including funds from Soros.

The donation of CCS Bard co-founder and benefactor, Marieluise Hessel, came on the occasion of the centre’s 30th anniversary. Established in 1990, it was the first such institution in the United States, dedicated exclusively to conservation studies with a particular interest in history, politics, and social issues.

Hessel’s support for the Bard dates back to the late 1980s, when she granted Bard students and faculty exclusive access to her extensive collection of contemporary art. This laid the foundation for the creation of CCS Bard soon after. The collection is now housed at the Hessel Museum of Art on the grounds of the college, founded in 2006. In 2015, the Hessel Foundation donated to the expansion of the school’s library, special collections and archives. In addition, the foundation continues to contribute annually to the running costs of the college. According to Bard, the organization’s support has also enabled CCS Bard to provide financial assistance to 90% of incoming students.

“The foundations that Marieluise established by co-founding the institution have catalyzed change in the field and, by extension, advanced bold new discourses in contemporary art,” said Tom Eccles, executive director of CCS Bard. “By supporting CCS Bard for generations to come, Marieluise’s generosity will allow us to build on this legacy and continue to advance new ideas in curatorial practice and contemporary art. It is above all a gift for the future.

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