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Fashion Attracts Record Visitors Everywhere


Winterthur, the great palace of American decorative Arts in Delaware, is suddenly the belle of the ball thanks to British fashion. And television. Since the March 1 opening of its Costumes of Downton Abbey exhibit, some 550 visitors per day, on average, have been arriving, "exceeding all attendance records maintained since Winterthur opened in 1951," Liz Farrell, the museum spokeswoman says. Last year at this time, Winterthur was presenting a wonderful exhibit that I wrote about for The Wall Street Journal, Common Destinations: Maps in the … [Read more...]

AAMD Tries To Get Tough Re: Delaware Deaccession


Timothy Rub (pictured), current president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, has just penned a tough letter to Delaware officials -- Governor Jack Markell, Attorney General Beau Biden and Wilmington Mayor Dennis P. Williams. It breaks no new ground, but it does make a decent point on the museum's current strategy of non-disclosure: ...we are also deeply concerned that the Delaware Art Museum has refused to disclose publicly the works of art that it is considering selling. Given the importance of this decision and its potential impact, … [Read more...]

Now Hirshhorn Loses Interim Director


The job of Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution, just got a little harder. Kurin has been responsible for the search for a director of the Hirshhorn Museum since last spring. You'll recall that former director Richard Koshalek stepped down after his seasonal inflatable bubble idea was killed by the Smithsonian amid board turmoil at the Hirshhorn and questions about who'd pay for it. Kurin appointed Kerry Brougher, the Hirshhorn's deputy director and chief curator, to be interim director. … [Read more...]

Mikwaukee Expanding Again?


I'm often skeptical of museum expansions; often, they're really not needed, and they're not paid for in advance. Boards often overestimate the expected visitorship (which often falls to pre-expansion levels after the first year) and underestimate the additional costs of maintaining a larger space. So when I heard some months ago that the Milwaukee Art Museum planned to expand -- it seems like only a few years ago that it opened its signature Quadracci Pavilion, designed by Santiago Calatrava (which doesn't leak, management there tells me; … [Read more...]

The Allure Of The New


The Miami art museum, now known as the Perez Art Museum Miami, released attendance figures for its first four months of existence the other day -- they're great. But they raise two questions. First the numbers: Since its December opening, the museum has welcomed 150,000 visitors. Massachusetts-based ConsultEcon had estimated 200,000 visitors for the entire first full year, according to Miami Today. One caveat: the projection was made in 2008, partly based on attendance in the old building. Nonetheless, congratulations are in order, and I … [Read more...]

Betsky Asked To Leave Early?


The situation at the Cincinnati Art Museums gets stranger and stranger. Director Aaron Betsky, who was pretty much forced out at the beginning of the year, will leave on May 1 -- instead of his earlier plans to stay until his successor was named. This move, my sources suggest, reflects deep turmoil within the museum caused by Betsky, who is a polarizing figure, if nothing else. His tenture there has been marked by turmoil. In a statement sent by board president Martha Ragland to employees yesterday, she said: "The Director has asked us to … [Read more...]

Definitions: Two Experts Opine On What Museums/Directors Should Do


When Philippe de Montebello was about to retire five or so years ago, one of his rumored successors was Max Hollein (pictured), the director of the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. The job went to Tom Campbell, of course, and I am  not sure if Hollein was seriously considered or if he wanted the job. Nonetheless, the two names came together in a funny way in the last few weeks, thanks to two completely different articles. In the U.S., the East Hampton Star interviewed de Montebello and in Germany, Deutsch Well interviewed Hollein. When asked … [Read more...]

Dubai Ruler Orders Four New Museums


Before I was diverted yesterday to write about a Dubai auction, I was planning to share news of the Dubai subway system. It's about to become a museum or, rather, a set of museums. The state news agency there recently reported that Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum wants themed museums in the subways as inspiration. As Gulf Business wrote: “We want to inspire and communicate with every employee on his way to work, every student on his way to pursuing education and every tourist visiting Dubai,” said Sheikh Mohammed. “We … [Read more...]

Friendship Outs: Giant Gift Of Marin Watercolors Goes To…

Tree, Stonington, Deer Isle

Not a museum in Maine, where he painted for much of his last 40 years. Not a museum in New York, the center of the U.S. art world, or in Los Angeles, the west coast hub. Or New Jersey, Marin's birthplace. No, Norma B. Marin, the artist's daughter-in-law, recently donated nearly 300 watercolors, drawings and sketchbooks to the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, according to the Kennebec Journal. ...Norma Marin’s gift to the Arkansas Arts Center was neither random nor the result of a falling out with Maine’s cultural institutions, as some … [Read more...]

Kids And Museums: A Few Words


I like kids, and I like to see kids in museums. But maybe with a few boundaries. A feature article that appeared in recent days in several places -- here it is in the Chicago Tribune, headlined Taking the Kids -- and exploring an art museum in a new way -- reminded me of an exchange of views I had on this just over a year ago with Christoph Heinrich, director of the Denver Art Museum. I visited the museum last January, and at times it seemed that children were everywhere, but that they could have been anywhere. In other words, many were … [Read more...]

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