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You Can Help Stop Cultural Destruction: Chartres Chapter

Universally recognized as a masterpiece of cultural heritage--inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1979--the Cathedral of Our Lady in Chartres is under attack by its would-be restorers. Now maybe you can help stop the dreadful makeover that has been underway for a while. I wrote about this issue, which was ignited by Martin Filler, last December (see Restoration Scandal at Chartres Cathedral), and today I received an email from a self-described "Physics PhD student at the University of Arizona" named Stefan Evans. Evans, who is … [Read more...]

A Good Show Spoiled

With the weather in New York still fine--and warmish--on Saturday, I ventured up to the New York Botanical Garden for FRIDA: Art, Garden, Life, one of the Garden's hybrid exhibitions that combines plants and paintings. This one, much like the Garden's 2012 exhibition titled Monet's Garden, offers about a dozen works of art, exhibited in the library building. Many more specimens of the plants Kahlo grew at her home, Casa Azul, on the outskirts of Mexico City, are there in the Garden's Conservatory. The show went on view on May 16 and remains … [Read more...]

Flash: The Detroit Institute of Arts Names New Director

They have replaced Graham Beal as director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, and it's an inside job. Salvador Salort-Pons, the current curator of European paintings a the DIA, plus--since 2013--director of collection strategies and information, won the post. Not an easy job ahead of him, but I do think it was wise for the trustees to select an insider. I don't know Salort-Pons (pictured at right), so I can't say much more from personal experience. here are highlights from his resume, per the DIA press release: For the DIA, Salort-Pons has … [Read more...]

A Delectable Selection of Native American Art, With Just One Problem

If you read my last post, about thematic exhibition cooperation among museums, you know I was in Santa Fe recently. But why was I in Santa Fe--that's another story, one that resulted in a review published in The Wall Street Journal last Thursday. It was about an exhibition at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian titled Connoisseurship and Good Pie: Ted Coe and Collecting Native Art. I liked the contents of the exhibition: Coe, educated as an art historian of European art who once worked with the great Sir John Pope-Hennesy, trained … [Read more...]

Summer Museum Sightings, Part 2: Thematic Cooperation

More observations from my travels this summer: Several smaller museums got together this summer to create hoopla by agreeing to present variations on a theme. I see this is as a really good thing, and I have heard anecdotally that it worked. That it, the thematic cooperation brought more attention from the media, sometimes even national media, which helps draw visitors. One was very near: the seven institutions in the Fairfield/Westchester Museum Alliance (FWMA) each agreed to present an exhibition about one of the Seven Deadly Sins. So, the … [Read more...]

By The Numbers, Good Museum News in Virginia

Earlier this week, when I received an email from the American Folk Art Museum, I thought it was doing well--getting back on its feet after a disastrous over-expansion. Anne-Imelda Radice, the director, wrote that: We closed the fiscal year with great news: 150,018 visitors came through our doors, experiencing exhibitions, programs, events, the shop, and more. This represents a 30% increase from the previous year. Then there was even better news in an email from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where the metrics seem to be astounding. The … [Read more...]

What I Learned This Summer: Philadelphia

I've been visiting a lot of museums this summer, on more than my usual share of travels. Sometimes I've picked up ideas worth sharing--for example, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There, Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting--which runs only through Sept. 13, so hurry to see it--has been pulling in crowds. Tickets are timed for crowd control, though, so visitors can actually see the paintings--or could while I was there on a Tuesday in July. It's an excellent show that explicates how a dealer was … [Read more...]

Common Sense From Gary Vikan

Maybe retirement, if that's what Gary Vikan--former head of the Walters Art Museum--had entered, loosens inhibitions. Vikan's editorial in today's Wall Street Journal may not have been written if he still had the job. It's headlined The Case for Buying Antiquities to Save Them.  It's about the unrelenting damage being perpetrated by ISIS, of course. It challenges the "prevailing view among archaeologists, reflected in bills in Congress, [that we should] ....exclude from the U.S. all antiquities thought to originate in those … [Read more...]

Tom Krens: At It Again?

Tom Krens, the museum consultant formerly known as the director of the Guggenheim Foundation and booster of multi-branch museums, has always lived by the philosophy of "Go Big or Go Home." Now, he is at it again. Last week, the Berkshire Eagle reported that Krens--who first proposed the creation of Mass MoCA in North Adams, Mass. nearly three decades ago--wants to start another massive art venue nearby. The new art palace would create 160,000-sq. ft. of gallery space on North Adams's Harriman-West Airport grounds. Said the Eagle: The … [Read more...]

WSJ Masterpiece: The Taj Mahal, As I Saw It

Even if you have never been to the Taj Mahal, you have a picture of it in your mind, right? It's a full frontal view, and it's unquestionably beautiful. But there is more to this marvelous, yes, mausoleum, and after going to India last winter, I wanted to say so and explain why. The result was published in Saturday's Wall Street Journal--in the Masterpiece column (which I have praised  on this blog many times). It was headlined (and decked) The Taj Mahal's Seductive Charms: As a visitor wanders the 42-acre site, this monument to love reveals … [Read more...]

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