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Tom Krens: At It Again?

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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, Mass. nearly three decades ago--wants to start another massive art venue nearby. The new art palace would create 160,000-sq. ft. of gallery space on North Adams's Harriman-West Airport grounds. Said the Eagle: The … [Read more...]

“Softening” The Museum Brand

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I couldn't find a press release on the museum website about this, but a couple of newspapers recently reported that the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is changing its name. And I did find, on the website, an item in "Mia Stories"-- its direct to consumer communication. From now on, there will not be an "s" on the end of arts. It is simply the Minneapolis Institute of Art. And from now on, the acronym should no longer be pronounced as M-I-A, as in "missing in action." It should be pronounced "me-ah"--rhyming with DIA, the New York-based art … [Read more...]

A Museum Innovation With Legs–And Twists

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Way back in September 2010, I applauded an innovative initiative by the Detroit Institute of Arts, but noted that I thought more could be made of it. Now, I learn these five years later, more has been done with the idea. At the time, the DIA was celebrating its 125th anniversary by putting up 40 framed, life-sized digital reproductions of works in its collection on street locations all around its four-county area. It was a big hit--the DIA has continued it ever since--so big that the Knight Foundation is putting $2 million into helping it … [Read more...]

On The Road: The Maine Art Museum Trail

Portland

If you ever have the opportunity, drive the Maine Art Museum Trail. Did you even know there was a MAMT? Or that it includes eight institutions around the state, from the Ogunquit Museum of American Art in the south to the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor? Truth is, it should be better known. This summer, the museums are trying with a special exhibition called "Directors' Cut" at the Portland Museum of Art; for it, each museum director was given a certain amount of space to fill and each chose works for that space. What results is … [Read more...]

Fun And Games In Art Museums

TB1

There is absolutely no point in saying something isn't offensive if you're not a member of the offended class, but let me say right off that I don't quite understand the uproar over letting visitors try on kimonos at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Yet that doesn't much matter here. I'm more puzzled over why museums like the MFA are offering dress-up opportunities in the name of audience engagement. Engagement with what? In case you have not heard, the MFA decided to have "Kimono Wednesdays" to teach visitors about Japonisme, the European … [Read more...]

The Met’s Coming Rebranding: A Puzzlement

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It's no secret that Thomas P. Campbell has been working overtime to make his Metropolitan Museum* different from the one he inherited from Philippe de Montebello. And the change has been dramatic--some covered in the press, some not. At least not yet. But as the King of Siam sings in "The King and I" (and here I will stop to give a commercial to the current production at Lincoln Center Theater; if you haven't seen it, go. It is one of the best productions I have ever seen of any musical), some of what is going on at the Met is "a … [Read more...]

Crystal Bridges Makes A Few Announcments

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When it come to art purchases, there could  be a "Crystal Bridges" watch--it seems to me that the museum in Bentonville built largely with Alice Walton's and the Walton Family Foundation's money is spending more money buying art than another other U.S. museum currently open to the public. For a short item in tomorrow's New York Times that is now online (and is a better, longer version than what will be in the print version), I disclose five more big purchases: two sculptures (including Quarantania, at left) and two paintings by Louise … [Read more...]

Museum Pictures To Warm Your Hearts

LGChildren3

In the United States, many museum-goers I know are perturbed by the hordes of school children that sometimes descend on museum galleries, talking loudly, paying no attention to others trying to enjoy the same space and finding little to warrant their attention. Here's one example: About two years ago, at the Art Institute of Chicago, I watched either a teacher or a docent (I didn't ask which) try to engage a group of, say, 14-year-olds (give or take a year or two) in the contemporary art wing. They were seated on collapsible stools before an … [Read more...]

The Brooklyn, The Whitney…Oh My! (Or, While I Was Away…)

Donna de Salvo

I didn't actually post here at RCA that I would be away for about a week around the Memorial Day weekend, so I am sure that it looked as if I was perhaps speechless last week when major announcements came out from the Brooklyn Museum* and the Whitney Museum. I was simply AWOL--in Spain, actually, taking advantage of the strong dollar. I had a marvelous time viewing art in Madrid and nearby towns, and one visit is pertinent to those two aforementioned announcements. Not the Brooklyn release, which named Anne Pasternak as successor to … [Read more...]

Something Good To Say About MoMA

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You hear so much about museums seeking out young audiences, the audiences of the future. It's tiresome, actually, and that quest ignores another giant portion of the country's population--seniors. Seniors make up nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population and that's nothing to ignore. So I was glad to learn recently of a new program at, of all places, the Museum of Modern Art, which has been a big target of criticism of late, mostly because of the Bjork exhibit and the tear-down of the folk art museum building, but also just in general. On May … [Read more...]

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