Born and developed in open contrast to the concept of art as monument, that is, as a powerful but static image of memory, the Fondazione today interprets its role as the energy powerhouse of art. The place of the works of art, which has gone from being “artist’s house” to a “house for artists”, has inevitably matured its role over the years, changing from an original impulse of survival, and has become a player aware and pro-active with regard to new opportunities.
Chaired by Beatrice Merz, the Fondazione benefits from the collaboration of a scientific committee formed of Frances Morris (Director, Tate Modern, London), Vicente Todolí (Artistic Advisor, Hangar Bicocca, Milan), Richard Flood (Former Director of Special Projects & Curator at Large, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York) and Mariano Boggia (Merz’s Collection Manager) and from the advice of guest curators for the exhibition programmes.
The Fondazione alternates exhibitions dedicated to Mario and Marisa Merz, offering so many opportunities for reflection and study of their work, with other major site-specific projects by national and international artists, who are invited to interact with the Fondazione’s space and its contents in via Limone. It also cultivates research, exploring the new generations of artists with regular temporary shows.
It organises events, including the events of visual arts, contemporary music and theatre entitled Meteorite in Giardino and Scusi non capisco, which every year create an opportunity to establish a dialogue between multiple disciplines relating to contemporary culture.
The Education Department offers a variety of activities and services for different audiences to promote the relationship between the local area and the museum, spreading awareness of the languages and practices of contemporary art: guided tours, student workshops, training for educators, workshops with the artists and visitor services free of charge.
The Library specialises in modern and contemporary art history and criticism. The unusual feature of its reading and consultation room, located on the first floor that was once an integral part of the exhibition itinerary, is the fact that it overlooks the space below, forming a constant dialogue with the exhibition space.
Alongside the library there is the Archivio Merz, the main purpose of which is to gather together, order and conserve any documentation relative to Mario and Marisa Merz.
Both serve a public of specialists, researchers and students.
The Mario Merz Prize is a biennial prize that aims to reveal talents in the fields of contemporary art and music composition through the expertise of an extensive international network of professionals. The project creates a new circuit of exhibitions and music events connecting Italy and Switzerland.
The Fondazione Merz does not only work in its historical premises: in addition to projects and collaborations with major international organisations, the Fondazione operates a network to develop projects—not limited to exhibitions—in the Mediterranean and Central Europe: border areas where cultures, people and traditions converge.
This area of work stems from the desire to invest in a broad programme, following a transdisciplinary vocation, embracing the expressions of contemporary creativity, from visual arts to music, and from theatre to literature. The special character of some of the projects reflects a focus on social aspects and community building, the creation of new networks of relationships between artists and territories through the work of the Fondazione, operating here as a facilitator and accelerator of exchanges and creations.
The Fondazione’s building, the former Officine Lancia power station, is a fascinating example of industrial architecture of the 1930s owned by the City of Turin, now granted in concession to the Fondazione Merz and located in Borgo San Paolo, an area of Turin that has undergone extensive urban and cultural redevelopment in recent years. The restructuring and restoration project, supported by both private and public funds (City of Turin and Piedmont Region), sought to recover the original simplicity of the layout which is immediately evident to the eye, but also one that is evocative of its past function, redefining the internal spaces and taking into account the Fondazione’s cultural goals.
The Fondazione is a private institution. Its activities are self-financed with the support of a network of donors, funding from Regione Piemonte and the Compagnia di San Paolo. Some projects are made possible also thanks to the support of Fondazione CRT.