The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation runs the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan which has been showcasing art to the public since 1959. One philosophy of the Guggenheim family is to make the world a more accessible and inclusive place, a value which they share deeply with me. They developed a program called Mind’s Eye wherein their goal is to make the art in their collection more accessible and available to the blind and visually impaired community. They implement this goal through highly curated and detailed verbal descriptions of the art paired with so-called touch objects which represent the texture of the art. All guests at Guggenheim museums are strictly prohibited from touching art in their collection.
In 2018, a partnership was formed between Ornellaia out of Tuscany, Italy and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation wherein Ornellaia auctions off large format bottles of their wines labeled with drawings by well-known artists and donate the proceeds to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to fund their Mind’s Eye program. Ornellaia shares our values of making the world a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive place.
The first year of collaboration was successful for all parties and both parties wished to feature the 2019 collaboration for the media and press.
In this four-way collaboration, Ornellaia and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation sought the support of Colangelo and Partners, a premier US-based wine and spirits public relations firm, to feature this partnership to key members from the wine and art press. Colangelo and Partners knew of my work with Tasting in the Dark and our desire to straddle the fine intersection between art and science through experience design. After developing a deep understanding of the collaboration, I created, assembled, and delivered a customized blindfolded tasting experience for approximately 25 influential individuals from the press which allowed them to observe the value of this partnership. Prior to my tasting, all guests were offered a glimpse of the Mind’s Eye tour delivered by Guggenheim docents. The evening commenced with short presentations delivered by the deputy director of education for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the CEO of Ornellaia, and Yours Truly. The presentations revolved around the work of each organization and my presentation homed in on how I see wine as a perfect way for all of us to experience art and beauty through flavor, aroma and texture. I ended my pre-tasting presentation by commenting that wine, for me, is closely related to how I imagine sighted people feeling when they look at complex works of visual art. Following our pre-presentations and the tour of the Mind’s Eye experience, the tasting began.
During the tasting portion, two iconic Ornellaia wines, one white and one red were tasted. I prepared extremely customized aroma samples to pair with each wine. Joining me to lead the tasting experience was Axel Heinz, director of wine education for Ornellaia.
The goal of the evening was to engage key influencers in the press regarding the partnership between the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Ornellaia. During and after the evening’s festivities, many invited guests approached the organizers and informed us that this was one of the most memorable events they have attended in a long time. The event resulted in a flattering article which appeared in Barrons’ Penta (link to article).
Ultimately, this press event was a very successful collaboration which generated extremely positive media coverage for Ornellaia, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and I was both flattered and honored to be a part of this beautiful collaboration.