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Scrapping of Maurer Show Revealed As National Academy Finally Announces Director’s Resignation

The National Academy’s very belated official statement announcing the resignation of director Carmine Branagan and the appointment of Maura Reilly has just hit my inbox, in the same form that I reported to you last Tuesday.

Meanwhile, revelations sent to me by Brian Allen, who directed the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, for nearly 10 years before his brief (health-curtailed) January-December 2014 tenure at the New-York Historical Society Museum, New York, support my suspicions that the Academy’s financial house is not in order.


Brian Allen

Here’s what I was told by Allen (who also assured me that he is now “feeling fine”):

I had one dealing with Carmine Branagan when I was director of the Addison Gallery: She reneged on her institution’s commitment to take our Alfred Maurer show [now at Crystal Bridges Museum].

Once you say you are going to do something, you do it. She said it was canceled for financial reasons [emphasis added] but they should not have agreed to the show if they didn’t think they could raise the small amount of money to do it.

The National Academy’s two problems are governance and location. Trusteeship needs to shift from artists to a mix of artists and committed donors. The Academy’s site is a blessing and a curse. It owns real estate of incalculable value, yet it can’t compete with everything else on Fifth Avenue. It’s Pluto to the Guggenheim’s Saturn and the Met’s Jupiter.

I hope they find a solution. It’s a distinguished institution that has suffered from bad leadership.

The Academy has repeatedly informed me, through its spokesperson, that no information about its 2015 fiscal year (ending last June 30) can be publicly provided at this time.

Maura Reilly, the Academy’s new interim director, was unavailable for comment. Maybe Maura should bring back Maurer. The Upcoming Exhibitions webpage could use more heft.

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