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St. Louis: Ka Nefer-Nefer Case Ends With A Whimper


U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan, who has been hounding the St. Louis Art Museum to return an Egyptian mask it purchased in 1998 for about a half million dollars, has told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that "his office only had “a lack of record showing a lawful transfer,” not proof the mask was stolen." The Justice Department has therefore abandoned its effort to force SLAM to return the mask, letting yesterday's deadline for taking legal pass without an additional filing.  To recap, as the P-D wrote: The mask was excavated in 1952 from a … [Read more...]

Retirement For Emily Rafferty At The Met


In many New York art circles, Emily Rafferty was, as president, as much associated with the Metropolitan Museum as the director, even though she had nothing to do with the art and usually shied away from talking about it. Today, the Met announced that she'll retire next spring -- and what a loss that will be. Everybody I know inside the museum and outside the museum respected Rafferty; she was a role model for many women at the museum. Here's what the announcement said: Emily Kernan Rafferty, President of The Metropolitan Museum of Art since … [Read more...]

Parklandia: Stretching, Striving To What End?


Most art museums seem to be stretching for "relevancy" these days, whatever that really means. And so we have, at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, a "community-driven" gallery section named Portlandia to accompany a current traveling exhibit called  The Art of the Tuileries Garden. In collaboration with the Louvre and the Musée Carnavalet Histoire de Paris, Portland, the High Museum and the Toledo Museum of Art developed the exhibit. It contains, according to the press release,  ...more than 100 sculptures, paintings, photographs, and … [Read more...]

Detroit Creditors Stir Up More Trouble


Just when things were looking good for the Detroit Institute of Arts, what with pensioners approving the "grand bargain" that allows the DIA to buy its freedom from the city, and with the DIA getting close to its goal of raising $100 million for the grand bargain to work, another creditor has come along to rock the boat. The Financial Guaranty Insurance Company hired Victor Weiner Associates to assess the value of the collection and, in a rush job, VWA put a total value on it of $8.5 billion. You may recall that another "complete collection … [Read more...]

Big Questions Re: Museum of African Art’s New Dream


There was alarming news in the article in Wednesday's New York Times about the Museum for African Art here in NYC, and it wasn't ab0ut the shrinking of the building or even the gallery space. It was about the shrinking of the board -- to six people! That is way too small for a non-profit, where aside from choosing the leader/director, raising money -- get or give -- is one of its most important functions. The article said: The number of trustees — who usually are expected to provide an overwhelming majority of contributions — has shrunk … [Read more...]

If “Creative Director” Title Fits A Museum, Why Not?


News the other day that the National Academy had elected 13 new Academicians reminded me that I meant to comment on the new title there, announced in the recent shakeup by Carmine Branagan, the director. First, the new members: visual artists Ida Applebroog, Jane Dickson, Martin Puryear, Edward Ruscha, Joan Semmel and Stanley Whitney; and architects Peter Bohlin, Preston Scott Cohen, Michael Manfredi and Marion Weiss, Eric Owen Moss, Antoine Predock and Charles Renfro. Second, the idea: you will  recall that several weeks ago, Branagan … [Read more...]

And Here’s Another New Contemporary Art Museum


On a completely different continent and in a completely different scale from the news about Los Angeles, there is word of another contemporary art museum -- African contemporary art. This proposed museum, which sounds quite wonderful if it happens, is in Capetown. On Cape Town's waterfront at the southern tip of Africa, the world's biggest museum of contemporary art from across the continent is being carved from a conglomeration of concrete tubes nine storeys high. The $50 million (36.7 million euro) project to transform the grim … [Read more...]

Timken Mess, Part 3: Hugh Davies Adds Perspective


The Timken Museum of Art in San Diego, as you'll recall, is a governance mess: trustees have caused Executive Director John Wilson, a professional, to resign and have replaced him with a well-known art restorer who will run the museum part time from New York City. See my posts here and here. That's no way to run a museum. The saddest thing, as reported in a piece last week by KPBS, the public radio station, is that locals now see the museum as regressing. Wilson had boosted attendance and raised some money, but apparently also thought the … [Read more...]

Save The Corcoran Plaintiffs Receive Standing


Just in: D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Okun has granted standing, aka petition to intervene, to nine of the 19 people who, as part of Save the Corcoran, asked to be part of the case to stop the mergers put forward by the museum's trustees. The 9 include current students, staff and faculty. The judge reportedly told the attorney representing the Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery that he expects further justification of the mergers with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University as the way forward for the gallery and the … [Read more...]

LA To Get Yet Another Contemporary Art Museum


Maybe it got little notice nationally because it's still just a paper plan, but it looks as if Los Angeles will get another contemporary art museum. It's called the Old Bank District Museum and it's the brainchild of a real estate developer named Tom Gilmore. He has hired architect Tom Wiscombe, and they are planning "an epic, locally minded art institution within the stalwart structures shouldering Main and Fourth Streets." That's in LA's "historic core district." The buildings involved are the Hellman, Farmers and Merchants Bank Building … [Read more...]

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