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Fashion Attracts Record Visitors Everywhere

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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...]

New Web Resources Everywhere, It Seems

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Hard on the heels of the recent announcement by the Vatican, that its bounteous library had begun digitizing all 82,000 manuscripts in its 135 collections -- thanks to help from the Japanese Japanese technology group NTT Data -- the Tate has made available a rich artistic resource. It's called Audio Arts, and it consists of 245 hours of more than 1,640 interviews with artists, critics and other art world figures. This one is already available here. As the Tate's press release describes it: The list of interviewees ...includes some of the … [Read more...]

Now Hirshhorn Loses Interim Director

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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...]

At Last: NEH To Get A New Chief

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Yesterday, President Obama announced his new chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities: Dr. William “Bro” Adams, the current president of Colby College in Maine, a position he has held since 2000. Adams announced his impending retirement from Colby -- in June -- at the start of 2013. Previously, Adams had been president of Bucknell University, 1995 to 2000, and before that he was vice president and secretary of Wesleyan University, 1993 to 1995. He has also been program coordinator of the "Great Works in Western Culture" program … [Read more...]

Detroit Free Press Takes Strong Stance

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"Buzzards"..."Hands off our stuff, you soulless, greedy, scavenging vultures"...."bald stupidity involved in selling off the DIA"..."The whole idea of municipal bankruptcy is to prevent this kind of shortsighted destruction"..."would destroy the state’s most important cultural asset"..."Chopping up the collection at the DIA would be a brutal and culturally ignorant extension of that very dynamic"... Those are some of the strong words contained in an editorial in today's Detroit Free Press, from a writer named Stephen Henderson, the Freep's … [Read more...]

12th Century Manuscript Mystery

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Twenty-three years after it disappeared -- a theft that was never reported publicly -- an 1133 Byzantine illuminated New Testament arrived at the Getty Museum "as part of a large, well-documented collection." Now it's going home to the Holy Monastery of Dionysiou on Mount Athos in Greece. Mount Athos is a special place, off-limits to women, actually, but I've read enough about it to know that. Way back in 1998, when the web was new and The New York Times had a section called Circuits that published articles about interesting websites, I … [Read more...]

Mikwaukee Expanding Again?

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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...]

Is That A Rembrandt In The Closet? Yes.

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More discoveries in the storeroom, and this time it's a Rembrandt. Yes, the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha has been told that a painting in its collection for 72 years, acquired as a Rembrandt but downgraded to School of Rembrandt -- and relegated to storage -- is in fact by the master after all. At least in the view of Rembrandt scholar Ernst van de Wetering, who says the work is “Portrait of Dirck van Os." No date was given in the Omaha World-Herald, which published the news today. Here's the backstory: In 1942 the museum purchased “Portrait … [Read more...]

The Allure Of The New

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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...]

Oddly, Bush’s Art Gives Reason To Cheer

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I'm sure you all saw coverage of the exhibit showing portraits painted by former president George W. Bush. The show at the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University was front page news, pictorially, in New York -- here in The New York Times and here in The Wall Street Journal -- and probably elsewhere too. It was criticized as amateurish by some -- most? -- and I don't disagree. So was Winston Churchill's art, but it was still interesting that he could as well as he did, given all the other things Churchill did so … [Read more...]

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