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Big Questions Re: Museum of African Art’s New Dream


There was alarming news in the article in Wednesday's New York Times about the Museum for African Art here in NYC, and it wasn't ab0ut the shrinking of the building or even the gallery space. It was about the shrinking of the board -- to six people! That is way too small for a non-profit, where aside from choosing the leader/director, raising money -- get or give -- is one of its most important functions. The article said: The number of trustees — who usually are expected to provide an overwhelming majority of contributions — has shrunk … [Read more...]

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...]

Timken Mess, Part 3: Hugh Davies Adds Perspective


The Timken Museum of Art in San Diego, as you'll recall, is a governance mess: trustees have caused Executive Director John Wilson, a professional, to resign and have replaced him with a well-known art restorer who will run the museum part time from New York City. See my posts here and here. That's no way to run a museum. The saddest thing, as reported in a piece last week by KPBS, the public radio station, is that locals now see the museum as regressing. Wilson had boosted attendance and raised some money, but apparently also thought the … [Read more...]

American Art Bonanza Left By Richard Mellon Scaife


Billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, scion of two wealthy families, died on July 4, leaving a large art collection -- apparently -- to two small Pennsylvania Museums. Scaife's attorney called the art collection "expansive." And according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review -- which Scaife owned: The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg and Brandywine Conservancy near Philadelphia will split Scaife's art collection, according to the will. The will allows the organizations to decide how to divide the collection and sets up a rotating … [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...]

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...]

Another Great Job Opens Up — In London


Surprise: today Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery, said he was stepping down from his job next year, as soon as a successor can be found. Penny will be 65 then, and according to The Telegraph, he plans to "spend more time with 'family, friends and books'."  Penny became the NG's director in 2008. Often, when the "spend more time with family" reason is used, something else is amiss -- and it means the person was fired. That doesn't seem to be the case here, but never say never. Yet, as The Telegraph continued: It will … [Read more...]

VMFA Poached For Another Top Job — And More News From the Met


The Metropolitan Museum of Art* just announced the appointment of  Sylvia L. Yount as head of the American Wing. Yount is currently Chief Curator and head of the American Art department at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which just last week lost Deputy Director for Art & Education Robin Nicholson. He's taking over the Frick Art & Historical Center in Pittsburgh. This is obviously not good news for the VMFA, or its director Alex Nyerges -- whose name itself has been bruited for a couple of the open directorships around the country. … [Read more...]

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