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MFA’s Gets A Load of Rothschild Loot


Literally. Bettina Burr (known as Nina, pictured left)--the daughter of Baroness Bettina Looram de Rothschild, who reclaimed about 250 pieces of Nazi-looted art from Austria after it passed a new restitution law in 1998--has donated 186 objects to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The trove, which includes jewelry, jeweled boxes, furniture, prints, drawings, miniatures, paintings and rare books, is most of what remains that had been passed down to her and her relatives from her ancestors in the Austrian Rothschild family. The great collectors … [Read more...]

Can There Be Too Many Museums?


In a controversial move, Washington, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser last week killed plans to open an Institute of Contemporary Expression at a disused, rodent-infested, leaky-roofed historic school in the city's northwest quadrant. Predictably, she was pummeled by critics, some of whom say she would rather have a commercial venture in that space (which is protected and cannot be razed). It may be that politics influenced her decision, but a look--at least from afar--at the dynamics give me pause too. Sometimes, there can be too many museums--if … [Read more...]

About The Future…

It's going to be hard for me to push the "Publish" button on this post. Blogging is a bit of an obsession for me--or, rather, became one after I started RCA in March. 2009, at the invitation of Doug McLennan. Since then, I've posted virtually once every weekday, and sometimes more often. Sometime, even when I was on vacation. I went away, on vacation to India,  on Jan. 18 and since I returned late on Feb. 4, I've tried to plow through all the relevant art-world things that happened in those 18 days. I still haven't finished reading emails, … [Read more...]

I’m Away…

I'm taking a winter vacation, and am unlikely to have the opportunity to post new items here until my return. If I do have access to a computer, and see something amidst the art and culture I'll be seeing, I may add something from time to time. If not, I'll be back on Real Clear Arts around Feb. 6. … [Read more...]

Monumental Art Undertaking in Saudi Arabia: Needs Partners


In yesterday's post, I mentioned the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran, in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia, which just partnered with LACMA. The Center, pictured below, hasn't received much national press in the U.S. (though apparently it held a meeting with the press at Art Dubai). It's a venture of Saudi Aramco, the state-owned global petroleum and chemicals giant of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. At its founding, it had American oil companies as partners, but no more (they're not listed in "History" on the website, … [Read more...]

The Story Behind LACMA’s Saudi Partnership


Press releases often provoke more questions than they answer. That was certainly the case when one from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art issued one on Jan. 6 about its new collaboration with Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture. It said that LACMA and the Center: are pleased to announce that the Center will exhibit more than 130 highlights of Islamic art from LACMA’s renowned collection on the occasion of the Center’s opening. The installation will include works of art from an area extending from southern Spain to … [Read more...]

The Heard Museum Loses Its Director To…


More musical chairs. The other day the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa announced that it had hired James Pepper Henry as its new executive director; he starts Mar. 30. Pepper Henry (at right) has a lot of experience with Native American art. Before the Heard, he had been director of the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, associate director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, founding director of the Kanza Museum in Kaw City, Okla.; interim curator of American Indian Art at the Portland Art Museum; gallery director at the … [Read more...]

“Provocative Intervention” In Dulwich’s Galleries

Made in China

The other day, the Dulwich Picture Gallery announced a 2015 program with "an intervention in the Gallery’s permanent collection offering a provocative challenge to the public." And what could that be? Rather provocatively, it's an exhibition called Made in China, and it's described this way in the press release, as ...a unique intervention that questions the significance and value of the ‘original’ work of art. ‘Made in China: A Doug Fishbone Project’ (10 February–26 July 2015), will see one of the paintings in Dulwich’s collection removed … [Read more...]

Walters’ Founding Story: Good, Except…


I really enjoyed my visit to the Walters Art Museum early this year. However, it is suffering a malady that must be discussed--because it is far from the only museum afflicted by this disease. I went to see From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story, a new installation that is intended to inform (or remind) people of William and Henry Walters, the father-and-son founders who amassed the original collection. That's a good idea not only because what they bought comprises 70 percent of the collection today but also because 1)  viewing art through … [Read more...]

NEA Reveals The Real Targets For Art Museums


The National Endowment for the Arts released three reports today on arts participation, barriers to it, the impact of the arts and culture industries on the economy--all information from 2012. There's much to digest. Here's the link to them. But I'm going to paste here just four charts from them that speak to one aspect of the environment for arts museums. Each one tracks interest in going to an art exhibit by people who had not been to an art museum in the last 12 months. They were asked: During the last 12 months, was there a performance … [Read more...]

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