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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...]

First View: A Pre-Opening At The Clark


The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute has set its Grand Re-opening for July 4, but since last week, director Michael Conforti and his team have been showing it off to the press, officials of other museums, donors and other powers-that-be. I was there last Friday afternoon, with much of the other press (but I did not stay for the evening festivities or for the Saturday events). The project started with a master plan in 2001, and involved other openings and changes over the years -- which I am not going to relate here. At the moment, … [Read more...]

Why The Morgan’s Roger Wieck Is A Surprising Proselytizer


Anecdotally, we think we know that interest in "older art" is waning, and a smaller pool of those anecdotes suggest that it's partly because of their subject matter. In this increasingly secular age, religious subjects -- and some historical subjects -- seem to be of less interest to some art-lovers and collectors. When a story or a symbol is involved -- even as simple as a lily, representing purity, or a fish, for Christ -- people miss the significance. In 2009, The Art Newspaper wrote about this problem, and how the Victoria and Albert Museum … [Read more...]

VMFA Poached For Another Top Job — And More News From the Met


The Metropolitan Museum of Art* just announced the appointment of  Sylvia L. Yount as head of the American Wing. Yount is currently Chief Curator and head of the American Art department at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which just last week lost Deputy Director for Art & Education Robin Nicholson. He's taking over the Frick Art & Historical Center in Pittsburgh. This is obviously not good news for the VMFA, or its director Alex Nyerges -- whose name itself has been bruited for a couple of the open directorships around the country. … [Read more...]

“Museums In A Changing World” — The Video

Maurishuis Opening, The Frick Collection

Earlier this year, I was invited to address the Seton Hall University students in museum studies and the Institute for Museum Ethics there, and I proposed a conversation instead of a speech. The title was "Money, Market, or Mission? Museums in a Changing World," and here was the precis: Ongoing economic challenges have caused museums to question accepted ways of doing business and to look for new models that involve entertainment as much as education. How can museums respond to current trends in the market and build their audiences without … [Read more...]

It’s A Deal: St. Louis And Basel


Four Richters for four Rothkos -- that's the bargain. As anyone who has visited the St. Louis Art Museum can tell you, the works it owns by Gerhard Richter are, along with its Beckmanns, among the stars of its collection. They rarely travel -- people go specifically to see them. (I wish we in New York City had as good a trove in a museum.) But the museum has made an exception for pretty good reasons: the Richters, including Betty (at right) will go to Basel to the F0undation Beyeler's Richter retrospective, which will be on view May 18 … [Read more...]

Why MFA Boston Makes Me Queasy


Yesterday, the Museum of Fine Arts - Boston announced that it was putting on view "a special loan of the beloved Norman Rockwell painting, The Rookie (The Red Sox Locker Room)" from 1957. MFA made it a celebration of  the "third World Series Championship in a decade" for the Red Sox, and said the painting will be in the galleries for just six days, through May 4. Why? Because it is "being offered at auction at Christie’s (New York) on May 22" in the American art auction. The MFA didn't day, but the estimate is $20- to 30 million. It did … [Read more...]

A Curator For Black Artists?

Darby English

The Museum of Modern Art announced an interesting hire the other day: Darby English, who recently became the Starr Director of the Research and Academic Program at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, will join MoMA (part-time) as a Consulting Curator (in the Department of Painting and Sculpture) for works made by black artists. While I perhaps understand the need for MoMA to make up for its lack interest in black artists (its term) in the past, I am not sure this is the way to go about it. Here is where I give a hat-tip to … [Read more...]

“Nur,” About Islamic Art, Sheds Light On Broader Curatorial Goals


Museum exhibitions owe their existence to artist anniversaries, artistic discoveries, brainstorming, chance encounters, but rarely -- I think -- from corporations. But that was a hook I used to write about Nur: Light in Art and Science, a sweeping presentation of Islamic art organized by Sabiha Al Khemir, who signed on as a senior advisor to the Dalllas Museum of Art  in 2012. The story, headlined Shedding a Light on Islamic Art’s Great Treasure, was equally about Al Khemir. a multitalented Tunisian who in addition to her art scholarship and … [Read more...]

Waugh Fans: Head to California


If you like Evelyn Waugh -- and I do -- you may be pleased to learn that about 250 rare books and reference books and 135 letters and manuscripts by the great English prose satirist have been given to the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Ca.  (Unless, like me, you happen to live in New York, and wish they had gone to the Morgan Library,* which has some Waugh material, but has you will see below, not much by comparison with other institutions). But really, that wouldn't have happened: the Waugh trove … [Read more...]

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