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Archives for June 2009

Busting the Embargo-Busters: NY Times’ Sam Sifton Explains What Happened UPDATED

Peter Dobrin, Philadelphia Inquirer's culture writerI was steamed when Robin Pogrebin's NY Times story broke the news embargo I'd agreed to (regarding the Brodsky Bill), and now Peter Dobrin of the Philadelphia Inquirer is steamed about a similar run-in with the same newspaper's Carol Vogel, regarding the announcement of Timothy Rub's appointment to the directorship of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Dobrin is SO steamed, in fact, that he sent me the following note, for quotation and attribution:What happened was this: The Inquirer and Times … [Read more...]

BlogBack: Bernard Tschumi on New Acropolis Museum’s Parthenon Marbles Display

Bernard Tschumi, architect of the New Acropolis Museum just opened in Athens, responds to my criticism of new installation of the Greek-owned Parthenon marbles, chock-a-bloc with replicas of the British-owned slabs from the same frieze: One of the special aspects of the new Acropolis Museum is that it reconstitutes the original narrative continuity of the Parthenon frieze. For nearly a century and a half, no one has seen it "whole," until now. Divided between Athens and London, no one could follow the extraordinary story-telling achievement … [Read more...]

Who’s Leaving the Metropolitan Museum? Official List of Retirees

Okay, I'll start you off with with one name: Everett Fahy, chairman of the department of European paintings, 22 years of service CultureGrrl has just obtained the complete list of the 96 Metropolitan Museum staffers who accepted the museum's recession-driven offer of voluntary retirement. (It's not 95, as reported in the Met's press release of June 22.) My list comes from an unimpeachable source---the museum's own Met Matters (above), its biweekly newsletter for its staff (not released to journalists). The Met's press office had declined … [Read more...]

News Flash: Timothy Rub Quits Cleveland for Philly UPDATED

Timothy Rub in the entrance hall of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Having only this weekend opened its new East Wing designed by Rafael Viñoly, the Cleveland Museum dropped a bombshell in my inbox at 9:25 p.m. today (Sunday): The Cleveland Museum of Art today announced the decision of its Director and Chief Executive Officer, Timothy Rub, to resign after three years of service to the institution. In September, Rub will take up the position of George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, … [Read more...]

Ceremony for My Best Blog Award: CultureGrrl’s “Great Impact” and “Flair”

Last night I picked up the tangible evidence of my Front Page Award for "Best Blog" from the Newswomen's Club of New York. Here's the award: And here's what they said about me: The front page award for Best Blog goes to Lee Rosenbaum of CultureGrrl for her story, "Stealth Deaccessions by the National Academy" [here, here and here]. The judges noted that although it can be difficult to find both useful information and good writing in a blog, Lee has managed to do this with flair. Her original reporting had a great impact by breaking a … [Read more...]

Deaccession Legislation Showdown: Brodsky Blasts Metropolitan Museum

Harold Holzer, Metropolitan Museum's senior vice president for external affairs Photo by Don Pollard While I give NY State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky high marks for his efforts to craft legislation regulating museum deaccessioning, he loses some points for being more abrasive than diplomatic in his attitude towards museums that are understandably unenthusiastic about being subjected to increased government regulation and reporting requirements. The museums that would be most significantly affected by the Brodsky Bill are the small … [Read more...]

Albertina Art Evacuation: Sustained Rains Leak into Storage

Albrecht Dürer, "Hare," 1502This from today's Austrian Times: Heavy rain also came close to causing a catastrophe at Vienna's Albertina Museum. Water leaking into its storage area threatened serious damage to a number of priceless works by artists such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Michelangelo.The museum issued a statement saying: "Appropriate measures have been taken to guarantee the security of the works of art. Nothing has happened. A total of 100 works of art have been moved to a secure site."The Vienna fire department has covered the … [Read more...]

Reuniting the Parthenon Marbles: The Only Argument You’ll Ever Need

View of the Acropolis and Parthenon (top, above the white building), from within the New Acropolis MuseumMichael Kimmelman, in his cautiously worded, evenhanded article in today's NY Times on the the Elgin Marbles controversy (pegged to the opening of the New Acropolis Museum), appears to rue the fact that the British and Greeks can't manage to find a way to put the Parthenon frieze back together again. He gives partisans on both sides their say and allows himself to observe that it's a "pity" that Greece's new culture minister, Antonis … [Read more...]

Channeling Max Anderson: NY State’s Deaccession Bill Rewritten

Maxwell Anderson, director of Indianapolis Museum of Art"What does the current version of NY State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky's deaccession bill actually SAY?" readers of Robin Pogrebin's embargo-busting article are asking themselves plaintively.CultureGrrl is here to tell you. First, you should know that it's no longer the same bill that we encountered back in March.When I recently wrote (in connection with the Orange County Museum disposals) that the Brodsky Bill was a good model for urgently needed state legislation regulating … [Read more...]

NY Times’ Robin Pogrebin Breaks an Embargo in Error-Marred Deaccession Article UPDATED

Earlier today I made nice to NY Times art writer Robin Pogrebin.That was so seven hours ago.In a piece now posted on the Times' website, Pogrebin broke a firm embargo established by NY State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, whose recently rewritten bill to regulate deaccessioning is pending in the state legislature.Brodsky dispatched some 80 pages of his correspondence with museums about his bill to a select group of reporters (including me) who had previously expressed interest. This was accompanied by a strict, clearly enunciated proviso that we … [Read more...]

357 Metropolitan Museum Positions Cut Since Jan. 1: The Official Tally UPDATED

As previewed by CultureGrrl last week, the Met has now issued its official statement on its recession-driven staff cuts, which have reduced its full- and part-time work force by 14% since Jan. 1.You can read the Met's statement in full, here.Voluntary retirements accounted for 95 positions and "the Museum has further reduced its work force by 74 union and non-union employees," according to the announcement. I assume that the latter are involuntary layoffs, but I am still awaiting confirmation (and will update here when I hear). UPDATE: The 74 … [Read more...]

Robin Pogrebin-David Smith Smackdown on the Future of NEA

Robin Pogrebin, NY Times culture writerUPDATE: Robin Pogrebin scoops breaking an embargo.I'll get to the subject of this headline in a moment, but first I wanted to call your attention to the announcement buried at end of my previous post, in which I introduced a new perk for CultureGrrl's Premier Donors. That select group received an advance heads-up about the topic of this post.A contribution of of $25 or more will get you not only an e-mailed link to posts after they are published, but also (in most, but not all, cases) an early … [Read more...]

Attacking the MoMA Monster: Community Board 5 Nixes Nouvel Tower

Rendering of Jean Nouvel's design for 53 W. 53rd Street, NYCUnanimously approved last month's by New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission (despite community opposition), Jean Nouvel's design for a soaring glass tower, contiguous with the Museum of Modern Art, hit a snag last week when Manhattan Community Board 5 voted against the project, 30 to 9 (with one abstaining and another "not entitled to vote"). The board's input, forwarded to New York's Department of City Planning, is purely advisory.The 82-story, mixed-use building would … [Read more...]

CultureGrrl Curriculum: The Blog Slogger Talks to NEA Visual Arts Journalism Fellows

Jack Rasmussen, director, American University Museum What do I know about visual arts journalism? Someone thinks I know something, because tomorrow I'll be addressing the American and foreign journalists who were selected to be the inaugural fellows in the NEA International Arts Journalism Institute in Visual Arts, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department. The director of the 17-day program is Jack Rasmussen, director and curator of the American … [Read more...]

Live Broadcast Tomorrow of New Acropolis Museum’s Opening

Image from the New Acropolis MuseumIf, like mine, your invitation to the opening of the New Acropolis Museum tomorrow in Athens somehow got lost in the mail, you can view it live tomorrow, Saturday, on the museum's website, here. In the meantime, here's a view of the installation of the Parthenon marbles.There's just one problem, though: The museum's website, only partly functional at this writing, does not tell us what time the much awaited opening will take place. So I can't tell you exactly when you should attend online.If I get more … [Read more...]

Recession Obsession: Metropolitan Museum and Guggenheim Cut Staffs UPDATED

Metropolitan Museum president Emily Rafferty at Monday's press preview for its "Afghanistan" exhibitionThe Guggenheim announced it late yesterday. The Metropolitan Museum will announce it this week: Both museums are significantly reducing their staffs in light of recent financial pressures.The Guggenheim is cutting 25 positions, across all departments. In response to my queries, the museum's deputy director for external affairs, Eleanor Goldhar, disclosed that only nine people were actually being laid off, none of them from the curatorial … [Read more...]

Orange County Disposals: Another Forceful Argument for Deaccession Legislation

Granville Redmond, "Silver and Gold," sold in March by the Orange County MuseumMike Boehm and Christopher Knight of the LA Times own this story, so there's no need for me to rehash all the details of the Orange County Museum's secret sale to an unidentified private collector of 18 of its 20 early 20th century California plein-air paintings for $963,000, which many have said is a bargain price.What's a bit strange (and unremarked in the Times pieces) is that David Walker, the director of the Nevada Art Museum, where 10 paintings from the sold … [Read more...]

Bypassing Museums: New Blockbuster Mill in New York

Tut Staircase at the 2007 showing of "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" at the Franklin Institute, PhiladelphiaWho cares if the Metropolitan Museum turned down on principle the chance to take on Egypt's Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs show?So what if the Field Museum, citing financial belt-tightening, decided not to take Ethopia's Lucy's Legacy show, which includes the 3.2 million-year-old "Lucy" fossil.Edutainment entrepreneurs are rushing in with evocative atmospherics and glitzy extravaganzas, where conventional … [Read more...]

Latest Round in the Elgin Marbles Battle: Greeks Reject British Offer

A 2008 mock-up of copies (left) of the Parthenon Marbles in the New Acropolis MuseumIt's another skirmish in the Elgin Marble Wars, this coming almost a week before the June 20 opening of the New Acropolis Museum in Athens.On Wednesday, British Museum spokeswoman Hannah Boulton reiterated on Greek Skai Radio an offer previously made by the museum's director, Neil MacGregor. Agence France Presse reportsThe museum could consider loaning the Marbles to Greece for three months. But Greece would have to recognise the museum's ownership rights to the … [Read more...]

Virago in Chicago: Frank Gehry-Renzo Piano Smackdown CORRECTED

As I recounted in my recent Wall Street Journal article, the construction of the Art Institute of Chicago's new Modern Wing was impelled by Millennium Park, the wildly successful art-filled public space situated directly across Monroe Street. That busy thoroughfare also has a second name (for a celebrated Chicago artist), on the particular block were the museum is located:The spirit and visual impact of the Art Institute's Renzo Piano-designed elite cultural retreat and the the park's populist public space are as different as the architecture … [Read more...]

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