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Museum Admissions: Better Than Free

Over the years, so many people have advocated for free admissions to art museums that one cannot keep track. I have almost always disagreed, with an  exception possibly being federally supported museums like the National Gallery of Art. Somebody has to pay, after all, and the same advocates of free admission often oppose donors who […]

Trading Places: The Met Museum and–Not MoMA

The news late last week twinned the Metropolitan Museum of Art* and the Museum of Modern Art,* making them a study in contrasts: The Met had just announced programming cutbacks, buyouts and other financial woes, while MoMA was basking in the glow of a $100 million donation from David Geffen. But I’ve been thinking for […]

Defending Melissa Chiu…UPDATED

When the Hirshhorn Museum, which has been led for the last year by Melissa Chiu, late of the Asia Society Museum, announced that its 40th anniversary gala would be held in New York, not in Washington, D.C., I too raised my eyebrows. That is a slap in the face to the hometown crowd, I thought. I have […]

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, […]

When Is A Sanction Not A Sanction?

The answer, it seems, is when one member of the sanctioning organization decides to ignore the punishment meted out to an offending member. I am talking about the Delaware Art Museum, which was sanctioned last year by the Association of Art Museum Directors for deaccessioning art works to raise money to pay off debt and […]

Delaware Museum Sells More Art

The Delaware Art Museum issued a statement late yesterday saying that it had sold its beautiful Winslow Homer, Milking Time (at right), and a painting by Andrew Wyeth,  Arthur Cleveland, to pay off its debts. That makes four art works sold to pay for bad mistakes (overexpansion, imo) by the museum’s board and administration. You’ll […]

Badly Bungled Philanthropy

The New York Philharmonic* just gave everyone a lesson in how not to fundraise. I am talking, of course, about the announcement that David Geffen has promised $100 million to the Phil for the renovation of Avery Fisher Hall.  There are two problems with this gift. First, the Phil’s leadership seems to have been enchanted […]

Can There Be Too Many Museums?

In a controversial move, Washington, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser last week killed plans to open an Institute of Contemporary Expression at a disused, rodent-infested, leaky-roofed historic school in the city’s northwest quadrant. Predictably, she was pummeled by critics, some of whom say she would rather have a commercial venture in that space (which is protected […]

The Story Behind LACMA’s Saudi Partnership

Press releases often provoke more questions than they answer. That was certainly the case when one from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art issued one on Jan. 6 about its new collaboration with Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture. It said that LACMA and the Center: are pleased to announce that the Center […]

No So Fast: Private Art Museum Under Scrutiny

“I’m not against it being done, but it’s got to be done well,” [Rob] Storr [dean of the Yale School of Art], said. “If there’s to be a public forgiveness for taxes there should be a clear public benefit, and it should not be entirely at the discretion of the person running the museum or foundation.” […]

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