The Ford Foundation Is Launching a Gallery in Manhattan Next Month Dedicated to Art and Social Justice

The fifth-richest charitable organization in the world is opening its first gallery exhibition on March 5.

The Ford Foundation Building. Photo: Dario Cantatore/Getty Images.

The Ford Foundation—the fifth-wealthiest charitable foundation in the world—is launching an art gallery at its headquarters in Manhattan on March 5. The rotating program of exhibitions will focus on artists who address themes of social justice.

While the organization has a long track record of supporting art through grant-making, such as the establishment of the $100 million Art for Justice fund launched in collaboration with collector Agnes Gund, this is the first time the foundation has had a dedicated platform for arts programming.

The 2,000-square-foot double-height exhibition space is located on the first floor of the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice. Its headquarters, a mid-century modern building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Roche-Dinkeloo in 1967, recently underwent a two-year refurbishment lead by the architectural firm Gensler.

The refurbishment presented an opportunity for the foundation to engage directly with the public, gallery director Lisa Kim told artnet News. “By having a physical space we can present exhibitions, and we can have a dialogue with the communities we work with,” she said.

For it’s inaugural year, the Ford Foundation Gallery has scheduled three exhibitions focusing on its core mission of addressing inequality. The first show, titled “Perilous Bodies,” explores inhumanity and injustice created by divisions of gender, race, class, and ethnicity. 

“Art allows us to connect with communities that are different from us and allows us to understand our shared humanity,” Kim said. “Art fosters representation, and we want to show artworks that have a global perspective on issues that we face as a society. We’re really looking for artists that may not be given a platform in a traditional art space.”

Founded by Henry and Edsel Ford in 1936 with the mission of advancing human welfare, the foundation has an estimated endowment of $13.7 billion.

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