Louise Nevelson’s Chapel Launches $6 Million Refurbishment Fundraising Campaign

December 10, 2020

Louise Nevelson’s chapel, a small structure tucked away in Lutheran St. Peter’s Church in New York’s Midtown district, has launched a campaign aimed at raising $6 million to repair and conserve the interior of the 1977 installation, Artnet News reports. The effort is anchored by a gift, of an undisclosed amount, from Pace, which represents the artist’s estate.

Nevelson Chapel, also known as the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, is relatively unheralded compared to such artist chapels as Rothko Chapel in Houston or Matisse’s La Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence in France. Able to seat just twenty-four visitors, it contains nine delicate wall-mounted sculptural elements by Nevelson, which underwent an unsuccessful renovation in the 1980s. St. Peter’s in 2018 began fundraising toward a second restoration, and to date has raised $3 million of the necessary $5.75 million. To aid it in achieving its goal, Pace is hosting an online charity exhibition, running from December 9 to December 30, of three 1970s Nevelson collage pieces; the gallery will donate 60 percent of the proceeds from the sale of these works to the restoration effort.

The chapel came into being when the parish in the mid-1970s sold its previous home, a Gothic-style 1903 building (whose gallery spaces were at one time curated by Elaine de Kooning), to Citibank, erecting a new complex jointly designed by architects Hugh Stubbins and W. Easley Hamner. Nevelson Chapel occupies the freestanding church portion of the complex, which additionally houses two galleries that host a rotating exhibition program of contemporary art.

“Nevelson Chapel is really a story about the city of New York,” said the church’s pastor, Jared R. Stahler, who was an undergraduate at Oberlin College in Ohio when he first visited the chapel on the recommendation of a professor. “Nevelson collected all of her objects and broken pieces of wood from the streets of New York and put them together and made these grand forms and gave them new life. Using things that other people would just discard, she created real beauty.”