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What’s It All About, Jean Nouvel? A Pace-Setting Museum?


Of course he does: he's an architect. But the project announced by Jean Nouvel last week, plans for a National Art Museum of China, won't just be innovative in design; it seems--from the announcement and resulting press coverage--that the Chinese, with Nouvel's help, will be out to establish new practices in museums, or at least to confirm what other museums have been trying, as standards. NAMOC, as it has been dubbed, seems to be aiming for upending the museum world a bit. Aside from gallery spaces, a research and education center, an … [Read more...]

More Triumphs And Woes For Frank Gehry


He's called (by some) the most important architect working today, which is debatable, but there's no question that Frank Gehry is one of the world's most innovative and creative architects. In the U.S., he's still having trouble with the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, despite a revision in his design delivered earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, In the revised design, Gehry's Los Angeles-based team eliminated two large, metal tapestries on the sides of the memorial park, along with some large columns. One long, stainless … [Read more...]

Answer to the Ever-Present False Dichotomy About Museums


It's very trendy these days to insist that museums should be visitor-centered, not art-centered. Most recently, I was called on the carpet yet again for suggesting that art comes first, but not just that; in fact, someone I do not know accused me a restarting the culture wars when I wrote here about the Portland Art Museum's Parklandia. The blog post was called "The Value of Museum Selfies." I'm not going to provide the link, partly because the writer misconstrues and mixes up ideas illogically and uses as justification for selfies that they … [Read more...]

Is It Time To Break Up Overcrowded Museums?


Hrag Vartanian, whom you may know as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic, had a very interesting opinion piece published on Al Jazeera America the other day. The headline was Break up the major museums to save them, with a deck saying "August institutions should build more outposts rather than cloister themselves in big cities."  Quite a proposal. His thoughts seem to have been triggered by attendance at the Louvre (12 million a year by 2025), and the experiences of many museum-goers -- who can barely get near the art because … [Read more...]

Good News From The Middle East


I'm still catching up with news that occurred while I was away on vacation, and since this qualifies and it happened in the hapless Middle East, I thought I'd report it: in mid-August, it seems, the Iraqi National Museum reopened two renovated halls that display ancient sculptures. Mainly life-sized ones, according to a report by the Associated Press. It said that the new galleries "feature more than 500 artifacts that mainly date back to the Hellenistic period (312-139 B.C.), some of which were retrieved and renovated after the looting of … [Read more...]

Mass MoCA Dreams Big: And Wakes Up Almost Middle-Aged


With the stroke of Gov. Deval Patrick’s pen a few weeks ago, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art got the go-ahead to realize the nearly 30-year-old dream of transforming a 19th century, 26-building, 16-acre factory complex into a destination arts center that would also help revive the economy of North Adams, Mass. As the art world knows, the road has been a bit bumpy and, along the way, the vision has changed. But Mass MoCA has hit something of a groove of late, giving state officials the confidence to allocate $25.4 million from … [Read more...]

Watching Art Be Made


Many people love going behind the scenes -- and many art museums now offer some sort of occasion or event to do so. Next week, if you're in Washington, the Freer-Sackler will let us all in on the installation of Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, who is representing her country at the Venice Biennale next year. I was struck by the photos the Freer* sent me, and so decided to share them here, along with some of the information in the press release announcing the Aug. 18-21 installation. For her installation, Shiota -- based in Berlin -- "will … [Read more...]

“No Time To Think” — Are Museums Part of the Problem Or Antidotes?


Has the worm turned? Are people weary of multi-tasking, interactivity, overcommitment, overextension and too tied to mobile devices? If you read an article in the July 27 edition of The New York Times headlined No Time to Think, you learned two things. First, the answer is no. As the article said: In 11 experiments involving more than 700 people, the majority of participants reported that they found it unpleasant to be alone in a room with their thoughts for just 6 to 15 minutes... ...It could be because human beings, when left alone, … [Read more...]

Stanford: The New Art Place To Be


Many in the art world have been anticipating the opening on Sept. 21 of the collection of Harry and Mary Margaret Anderson at Stanford -- even from afar. In 2011, the couple donated 121 works of contemporary art, filled with paintings by the likes of Pollock, Diebenkorn, Rothko Elsworth Kelly, de Kooning, Joan Mitchell (Begin Again IV at left), and Elizabeth Murray, to name a few, to Stanford on the condition that it build galleries to house them. Stanford is offering timed tickets, starting in mid-August -- but they are free.   But Stanford … [Read more...]

Cincinnati Hires A Director, As Another Curator Departs


The news actually came out yesterday in an afternoon press release (but I was a little busy yesterday with other news): the board of the Cincinnati Art Museum has chosen Cameron Kitchin as the museum’s director. Kitchin previously headed the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, Tenn.  In the press release, the board indicated that he is "a nationally recognized innovator and leader in the museum field."  I confess I've not noticed him before, though that may have more to do with the PR department there and the lack of national news … [Read more...]

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