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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...]

Let’s All Help Save Syria’s Treasures: A Plan


Everyone has been very worried about the state of cultural heritage properties in Syria during this civil war. There have been irregular reports but they all suggest that Old Aleppo, the Krak des Chevaliers, many medieval Christian cemeteries and dozens of archaeological sites and museums have been damaged -- or, as a new release from an organization trying to do something put it, "subjected to extensive raiding and looting." In late June, the Penn Museum’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center in Philadelphia and the Smithsonian Institution, along … [Read more...]

“Anonymous” Women, Once Again


It's that time of year -- actually, it's a little past that time of year -- when the Anonymous Was A Woman Foundation makes public the ten female artists who will receive $25,000 no strings attached, just to support them. This is the 19th set of winners  -- and I was there at the creation, sort of. So I sometimes like to publicize the winners (which were announced on July 2). The awards go to women over 40 "who have significantly contributed to their field, while continuing to grow and pursue their work." This year they are: Janine … [Read more...]

DIA Reaches Almost 80% of “Grand Bargain” Goal


That was the news out of the Detroit Institute of Arts' press conference this morning: It has another $26.8 million in commitments from corporations pledged toward the $100 million it agreed to raise to buy its independence in the Detroit bankruptcy. The new money in today's announcement came from: $10 million from Roger S. Penske and Penske Corporation, $5 million from DTE Energy, $5 million from Quicken Loans and the Rock Ventures Family of Companies, $2.5 million from BCBSM, $1 million from Meijer, $1 million from Comerica … [Read more...]

American Art Bonanza Left By Richard Mellon Scaife


Billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, scion of two wealthy families, died on July 4, leaving a large art collection -- apparently -- to two small Pennsylvania Museums. Scaife's attorney called the art collection "expansive." And according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review -- which Scaife owned: The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg and Brandywine Conservancy near Philadelphia will split Scaife's art collection, according to the will. The will allows the organizations to decide how to divide the collection and sets up a rotating … [Read more...]

China: Museum-Building Slows Down


China is still building museums like a maniacal child erecting skyscrapers with Legos -- but the rate has now slowed from one a day last year to one every three days, according to Cathy Giangrande, the co-author (with Miriam Clifford and Antony White) of  the new Chinese Museums Association Guide, which updates their 2009 book China: Museums. The Sinosphere blog of The New York Times just did a Q&A with Giangrande. In it, she reveals some noteworthy thoughts -- or updates on what we know. To wit: "In terms of content, one of the … [Read more...]

The Most Common Expansion Mistake Hits The Perez


Time and again, over the years, there is one common mistake made by many museums that expand -- which often gets them into trouble and which is avoidable, mostly. Now it has hit the Pérez Art Museum Miami -- and we not surprised. According to the Miami Herald (among other places),  The Pérez Art Museum Miami wants a $2.5 million boost in government support [from the hotel tax], with taxpayers set to cover a third of the museum’s budget next year.  Housed in a new $130 million waterfront headquarters built largely with government money, … [Read more...]

Timken Intrigue, Part 2: The Power Play


If a dispute isn't about money, it's usually about power. And that is what appears to be behind the problems at the Timken Museum of Art (below). Not programs, not old-school art versus contemporary art, not money. When we last wrote about the Timken, we weren't quite sure whether director John Wilson quit or was pushed out or why. It's not quite true that the board disagreed with Wilson's strategy, as several people including me surmised. Wilson has done a fine job. Attendance when he took over in 2008 was about 143,000. Last year, it was … [Read more...]

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