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Archives for June 2014

My Wall Street Journal Article on Conservation at the 9/11 Memorial Museum (with slideshow)

I probably wouldn't have visited the recently opened 9/11 Memorial Museum, on the site of the destroyed Twin Towers, had I not been asked by my Wall Street Journal editor to do a piece on the preservation and conservation of the battered, mangled objects that were presciently preserved during the cleanup of the Ground Zero. Some 1,000 artifacts, from a collection of about 13,000 (some directly from the site, others donated by individuals) are on display at the museum. My piece, Restoring the Ruins: Maintaining the Integrity of the … [Read more...]

Tech-Centric Museum Without a Functioning Website? What Happened to CooperHewitt.Org? UPDATED

UPDATE: Almost immediately after I posted this, the Cooper Hewitt's website returned to functionality, hopefully this time for good. In yesterday's post on the renewed and renamed Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, I wrote that the website for this technologically souped up institution seemed to be down. The museum's spokesperson told me I was wrong at that it was working (which seemed unlikely to me, since I had tried it repeatedly, on four different devices). Then she corrected herself, saying that there had been a problem with the … [Read more...]

Souped-Up Cooper Hewitt: Interactive Pen, Newark-Exiled Collection (with video) CORRECTED

More on this here. It's way too early to review the renewed and renamed (but not yet reinstalled) Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (formerly, "Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum"). After a protracted three-year closure, it will reopen on Dec. 12. One thing that I can assuredly say right now is that the former Andrew Carnegie Mansion has great bones. The highlight, for me, of museum's advance press tour this week was the chance to admire its restored Babb, Cook & Willard-designed spaces, uncluttered by objects. The room … [Read more...]

Damning DAM: AAMD Sanctimoniously Sanctions the Delaware Art Museum

When will the Association of Art Museum Directors wake up and realize that its sanctions against museums that flout its deaccession standards have little or no power over financially desperate museums lacking strong professional governance? As you've probably already heard, AAMD today announced that it had sanctioned the Delaware Art Museum for its sale yesterday at Christie's, London, of one of its most important Pre-Raphaelite paintings---William Holman Hunt's "Isabella and the Pot of Basil"---to help pay down debts and beef up … [Read more...]

Frick Expansion Bonus: Opening the Upstairs Rooms (with slideshow and live tweets)

How many times have you gazed at those stairs and wished you could ascend? My favorite aspect of the Frick's expansion plans won't occupy any more space on E. 70th Street, won't need government approvals, will greatly enhance the visitor experience and should attract nothing but plaudits from critics who (like me) are starting to grumble about some aspects of the Davis Brody Bond-designed expansion. (See my Twitter chain, below. And if you want to see more reactions, take a look at the readers' comments---114 at this writing---attached to … [Read more...]

Beaux Arts on Botox: The Frick Collection’s Planned Expansion

More on this here. Following in the footsteps of the Morgan Library and Museum, another New York jewel-box museum established by a Gilded Age mogul/collector---the Frick Collection, founded by Henry Clay Frick---has outgrown its space and plans to expand. But without mentioning the Morgan, the Frick's press release announcing the expansion yesterday suggests that the approach to be taken by its architects, Davis Brody Bond, will be the antithesis of what Renzo wrought in 2006 under the Morgan's previous director, Charles Pierce Jr. Piano's … [Read more...]

Detroit Exploits: Today’s Grand Bargain Announcement (plus Detroit Institute’s more aggressive legal stance)

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) was not providing any advance details regarding its "major Grand Bargain announcement," planned for later this morning. After getting a heads-up from the museum on Friday about the planned announcement, I assumed it might have something to do with fundraising successes. At least some (if not all) of the news was leaked early to Detroit reporters by other sources: Matt Helms of the Detroit Free Press reported that "leaders of the Detroit Institute of Arts will join Gov. Rick announce a … [Read more...]

My Q&A with Timothy Potts: Reinstalling the Getty Museum’s Antiquities (and more on the Getty Bronze)

The inscrutable Italian courts may have once again delayed their decision on the Getty Bronze case, but that doesn't mean CultureGrrl needs to hold off any longer from reporting about Getty Museum director Timothy Potts' plans to thoroughly overhaul the installation of his institution's antiquities holdings in the Getty Villa, Pacific Palisades, where the contested "Victorious Youth" is a signature work. When I was at the Getty researching my Pollock piece for the Wall Street Journal, I took the occasion to find out what Potts has been up to … [Read more...]

Getty Bronze Court Decision Postponed Again

Italy's highest court, the Court of Procrastination...I mean, "Cassation," punted once again in the never-ending Getty Bronze case. This just in from the Getty Museum: The Court's official report, which was issued today, simply states: "Stayed pending hearing by the Constitutional Court." Why has the court repeatedly balked on bringing this case to conclusion? Might it be that the judges are reluctant to issue the decision that they feel is legally warranted but that would roil Italy's repatriationists? (A lower court ruling was in the … [Read more...]

Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition Launched; Armstrong Walks Off TV Interview

Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation today announced in Helsinki the launch of the design competition for the Guggenheim Helsinki, which will need final approval from both the City of Helsinki and the State of Finland after the two-stage competition concludes. The winner of the competition is expected to be announced next June. According to a report by Finland's YLE News, Ari Wiseman, the Guggenheim's deputy director, revealed that "more than 800 pre-registrations have already been received ahead of … [Read more...]

Chagrin Over Pellegrin: NY Observer and Chris Crosman on “National Academy Eight” (with video)

The NY Observer's "Gallerist" and I approached the story of the National Academy Eight---staffers abruptly fired on Thursday---from different angles in stories that we published yesterday. (Theirs came first.) Taken together, our pieces piece together the complicated, troubling situation there, still unfolding. (I suspect that the NY Times will eventually move this ball down the field.) M.H. Miller's story in "Gallerist" focused on the new Academy position of creative director, assumed by Maurizio Pellegrin, whom Miller interviewed to … [Read more...]

News Flash: Financially Challenged National Academy Restructures and “Streamlines” Its Staff

UPDATE: More on this here. We interrupt the upbeat program of the annual meeting of the Association of Art Museum Directors to bring you some downbeat news from the National Academy in New York. As you may remember, that financially challenged institution had incurred AAMD's wrath for its 2008 stealth deaccessions of important paintings by Frederic Edwin Church and Sanford Robinson Gifford to help fund operations and defray debts---a story that I broke on CultureGrrl. According to Carmine Branagan, the Academy's director, no subsequent art … [Read more...]

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