The Viktor Schreckengost Foundation
Mission, History and Summary of Current Activities
The Viktor Schreckengost Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to:
- Conserving the artwork, sketches, and writings of Viktor Schreckengost (b.1906): award-winning artist, pioneer of modern Industrial Design, American patriot and master teacher
- Cataloging his life’s work and assuring its accessibility to students and scholars now and in the future
- Developing and supporting educational curriculum based on Viktor Schreckengost’s masterful approach to teaching art and design
- Advancing public awareness of the legacy of Viktor Schreckengost through art exhibitions and merchandise licensing
A Brief History and Current Activities of the Foundation
A few years ago, relatives of then-94 year old artist Viktor Schreckengost began the ambitious task of cataloguing his works. Almost immediately Viktor’s wife Gene and stepson Chip Nowacek came to understand that Viktor’s legacy encompasses more than a dusty attic full of archives and works of art. Viktor’s longevity and productivity as an artist, his role as a pioneer of modern industrial design, his meticulous record-keeping, and the inspiring humanitarian spirit embedded in his life’s work begged to be shared. There was enormous potential for exhibitions, educational activities, and publications based on his work. Thus was born The Viktor Schreckengost Foundation.
The Foundation started in 2003 with two full-time employees: Chip Nowacek as Director and a family friend, Suzy Herzfeld, as administrative assistant. Now the Foundation keeps busy a full-time staff of eight, with at least a half dozen additional part-time contractors. In 2005 the Foundation headquarters moved from Chip’s home office to a separate facility that is already bursting at the seams. As Chip says, “The legacy is so large that you can’t put it under one roof.”
Archiving, preservation, and cataloguing of Viktor’s extensive archives and collection are at the heart of Foundation activities. A digital archiving database, custom-designed by Chip, already links several thousand pieces of information related to Schreckengost works: piece description, images, provenance, archival materials, exhibitions, and publications, and will eventually be accessible through the Foundation website.
Exhibitions of Viktor’s work are being shared through the Foundation’s efforts as well. The Viktor Schreckengost National Centennial Exhibition series in 2006 will include well over 100 simultaneous shows of Schreckengost pieces and archival materials. Venues range in scale from the Smithsonian Archives of American Art to local historical societies. The Foundation is also coordinating a traveling one-man retrospective exhibition that will begin at the Columbus Museum of Art in 2007.
The Foundation currently encourages and cooperates with educators who want to develop curriculum related to Viktor’s legacy. As funding becomes available, the Foundation will become more directly involved in education through curriculum development and implementation; educational publications; and outreach and scholarship support to deserving students.
The Foundation is currently funded privately, but art reproductions and licensing agreements under development will eventually support Foundation activities. He anticipates that even before major grant-making activities develop, the Foundation will spawn several focused organizations to deal separately with exhibitions, licensing, etc., because Viktor has produced so much material that one organization cannot possibly manage every aspect of its future.
Of the scope of the Foundation’s interest, Executive Director Chip Nowacek says, “This Foundation will not properly represent Viktor if we only focus on the history. His legacy also lives in his philosophy and world view; it deals with the future. Viktor was always looking forward. This Foundation is also about living that legacy, and appropriate activities will develop as his funding becomes available.”
To date, Foundation growth and activities have been so fluid and diverse that a formally-organized Board has not satisfied its needs for oversight. Instead, a less formal list of advisors have provided insight and counsel as needed. Those to whom we owe thanks on this account are Viktor Schreckengost, Gene Schreckengost, David Deming, Dan Cuffaro, Henry Adams, John Nottingham, John Spirk, Terry Stewart, Dennis Barry, Richard L. McClellan, and many others.