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Fashion Attracts Record Visitors Everywhere


Winterthur, the great palace of American decorative Arts in Delaware, is suddenly the belle of the ball thanks to British fashion. And television. Since the March 1 opening of its Costumes of Downton Abbey exhibit, some 550 visitors per day, on average, have been arriving, "exceeding all attendance records maintained since Winterthur opened in 1951," Liz Farrell, the museum spokeswoman says. Last year at this time, Winterthur was presenting a wonderful exhibit that I wrote about for The Wall Street Journal, Common Destinations: Maps in the … [Read more...]

AAMD Tries To Get Tough Re: Delaware Deaccession


Timothy Rub (pictured), current president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, has just penned a tough letter to Delaware officials -- Governor Jack Markell, Attorney General Beau Biden and Wilmington Mayor Dennis P. Williams. It breaks no new ground, but it does make a decent point on the museum's current strategy of non-disclosure: ...we are also deeply concerned that the Delaware Art Museum has refused to disclose publicly the works of art that it is considering selling. Given the importance of this decision and its potential impact, … [Read more...]

New Web Resources Everywhere, It Seems


Hard on the heels of the recent announcement by the Vatican, that its bounteous library had begun digitizing all 82,000 manuscripts in its 135 collections -- thanks to help from the Japanese Japanese technology group NTT Data -- the Tate has made available a rich artistic resource. It's called Audio Arts, and it consists of 245 hours of more than 1,640 interviews with artists, critics and other art world figures. This one is already available here. As the Tate's press release describes it: The list of interviewees ...includes some of the … [Read more...]

Now Hirshhorn Loses Interim Director


The job of Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution, just got a little harder. Kurin has been responsible for the search for a director of the Hirshhorn Museum since last spring. You'll recall that former director Richard Koshalek stepped down after his seasonal inflatable bubble idea was killed by the Smithsonian amid board turmoil at the Hirshhorn and questions about who'd pay for it. Kurin appointed Kerry Brougher, the Hirshhorn's deputy director and chief curator, to be interim director. … [Read more...]

At Last: NEH To Get A New Chief


Yesterday, President Obama announced his new chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities: Dr. William “Bro” Adams, the current president of Colby College in Maine, a position he has held since 2000. Adams announced his impending retirement from Colby -- in June -- at the start of 2013. Previously, Adams had been president of Bucknell University, 1995 to 2000, and before that he was vice president and secretary of Wesleyan University, 1993 to 1995. He has also been program coordinator of the "Great Works in Western Culture" program … [Read more...]

Detroit News Also Takes Stand Against Art Sale


Here's that paper's opinion piece: Offers to save DIA would mean big trade-offs for city, pensioners. The Detroit News  is less emotional about the riches in the Detroit Institute of Arts than its rival Free Press, but a column by Daniel Howes too argues against a sale and for the so-called grand bargain (foundations ponying up money to secure the DIA's art from sale and remove it from city ownership). An excerpt: The DIA is the central battleground in Detroit’s high-stakes bankruptcy and the prize is winning the support of pensioners who … [Read more...]

Detroit Free Press Takes Strong Stance


"Buzzards"..."Hands off our stuff, you soulless, greedy, scavenging vultures"...."bald stupidity involved in selling off the DIA"..."The whole idea of municipal bankruptcy is to prevent this kind of shortsighted destruction"..."would destroy the state’s most important cultural asset"..."Chopping up the collection at the DIA would be a brutal and culturally ignorant extension of that very dynamic"... Those are some of the strong words contained in an editorial in today's Detroit Free Press, from a writer named Stephen Henderson, the Freep's … [Read more...]

12th Century Manuscript Mystery


Twenty-three years after it disappeared -- a theft that was never reported publicly -- an 1133 Byzantine illuminated New Testament arrived at the Getty Museum "as part of a large, well-documented collection." Now it's going home to the Holy Monastery of Dionysiou on Mount Athos in Greece. Mount Athos is a special place, off-limits to women, actually, but I've read enough about it to know that. Way back in 1998, when the web was new and The New York Times had a section called Circuits that published articles about interesting websites, I … [Read more...]

Breaking News: Disgusting Developments In Detroit

DIA-Wedding Dance

Detroit's creditors are getting out of hand. Today, news came that they have solicited bids for the art owned by the Detroit Institute of Arts -- getting billion-dollar bids for the collection or key parts of it. According to both Detroit newspapers, the Financial Insurance Guaranty Co. (FGIC) has four tentative bids of up to $2 billion. Said the Detroit Free Press: The prospective investors include a coalition of Catalyst Acquisitions and Bell Capital Partners that tentatively offered $1.75 billion for all of the DIA’s property. The … [Read more...]

Mikwaukee Expanding Again?


I'm often skeptical of museum expansions; often, they're really not needed, and they're not paid for in advance. Boards often overestimate the expected visitorship (which often falls to pre-expansion levels after the first year) and underestimate the additional costs of maintaining a larger space. So when I heard some months ago that the Milwaukee Art Museum planned to expand -- it seems like only a few years ago that it opened its signature Quadracci Pavilion, designed by Santiago Calatrava (which doesn't leak, management there tells me; … [Read more...]

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