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If “Creative Director” Title Fits A Museum, Why Not?


News the other day that the National Academy had elected 13 new Academicians reminded me that I meant to comment on the new title there, announced in the recent shakeup by Carmine Branagan, the director. First, the new members: visual artists Ida Applebroog, Jane Dickson, Martin Puryear, Edward Ruscha, Joan Semmel and Stanley Whitney; and architects Peter Bohlin, Preston Scott Cohen, Michael Manfredi and Marion Weiss, Eric Owen Moss, Antoine Predock and Charles Renfro. Second, the idea: you will  recall that several weeks ago, Branagan … [Read more...]

And Here’s Another New Contemporary Art Museum


On a completely different continent and in a completely different scale from the news about Los Angeles, there is word of another contemporary art museum -- African contemporary art. This proposed museum, which sounds quite wonderful if it happens, is in Capetown. On Cape Town's waterfront at the southern tip of Africa, the world's biggest museum of contemporary art from across the continent is being carved from a conglomeration of concrete tubes nine storeys high. The $50 million (36.7 million euro) project to transform the grim … [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...]

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...]

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...]

Intrique: Director of Timken Museum Is Out


This Wednesday, John Wilson, Executive Director of the Timken Museum of Art in San Diego, is set to give a gallery talk titled "Brave New World: from Icons to the Future." As I write this, that's what the museum website says. It may be a broken link by the time you read this post, though, because Wilson (pictured at right) quit or was pushed out last week, just before the holiday. His name has been removed from the Board/Staff page of the site, though his replacement's name isn't yet there. That would be, according to various reports, David … [Read more...]

Do Opera And Art Museums Mix? An Experiment


If you are up near Cooperstown, N.Y. this summer, you may want to stop in at the Fenimore Art Museum, not just for its fine collections of American art, or its current special show, Winslow Homer: The Nature and Rhythm of Life, from the Arkell Museum at Canajoharie -- both worth a visit. I'm singling out instead an exhibition of woodblock prints called Madame Butterfly's World: Woodblock Prints of a Changing Japan. Now, I like Japanese prints but the main reason I think this is an excellent show is its timing -- the Fenimore mounted the show … [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...]

Museum-Going: Getting Even More Virtual


Last fall, I made a note to myself about an app made for the landmark exhibition at Houghton Hall in England, country home of Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745), which brought back about 60 paintings from the Hermitage and elsewhere -- they'd been sold, but were reunited for the first time in more than 200 years. The full story is here. The app is relevant again because soon the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will open a national tour here of  Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House -- it's not the same as the real thing, but this … [Read more...]

All-in-All, A Good Plan at the Frick


In a place like Manhattan, I almost never want to see green space disappear. And that will be one upshot of the Frick Collection's proposed expansion, which was announced this morning in a press release. To gain 42,000 square feet -- which "will house more gallery space, an expanded entrance hall, additional space for the Frick’s world-renowned art reference library, new classrooms, a 220-seat auditorium, expanded administrative space, and updated conservation laboratories, as well as a rooftop garden terrace for museum visitors -- the Frick* … [Read more...]

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