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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

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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…)

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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...]

What If Britain Hadn’t Taken the “Lion Hunt Reliefs”?

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Hard as it is to believe, many people visit the British Museum and entirely miss the great seventh-century B.C. Assyrian lion hunt reliefs. I know, not only because some people have written that to me but also because I was one of them. On my first several visits to the BM, I didn't know they were there. Once I discovered them, I was awestruck. So when earlier this year the so-called Islamic State began destroying what remains at Nineveh, where the lion hunt reliefs came from, I proposed them as a "Masterpiece" for the column of that name in … [Read more...]

The Shocking Cooper Hewitt, Part Two

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Aside from the maltreatment of its beautiful historic building, which I wrote about here nearly three weeks ago, something else is deeply wrong with the new incarnation of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum: the display and the contextualization of the objects in the displays simply don't measure up to minimal standards. To be sure, visually they are often attractive. But frequently they are very dumbed down, witless and perhaps even misleading. I think the museum's leadership meant well; I really do. But I think they misjudged their … [Read more...]

The Dangers Of Audience Gimmicks

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What was that song from Gypsy--"You gotta have a gimmick," right? Sadly some museums are trying gimmicks to lure people into their galleries and I fear this will all end badly. Let's take a look at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, which does have a visitorship problem, apparently, considering that it has a splendid permanent collection. In January, The Independent said that the permanent collection there draws just 200 visitors a week (compared with 2,000 per week when there is a temporary exhibition). On Apr. 29, the same paper said it … [Read more...]

Bravo: Even the Whimsy At A Few Museums Is About Art

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I love it when that's so. I was reminded of this at the new Whitney last week. I had been meaning to return to the subject since I visited the New Britain Museum of American Art several weeks ago to review the Otis Kaye exhibition for The Wall Street Journal. There, the museum seating is not just any seating; it's a collection of benches bought by the museum from contemporary artists. At the Whitney, as you may have read, the elevators are design by Richard Artschwager (one pictured below, at bottom_. All of this signals that art is not … [Read more...]

First Thoughts On the New Whitney

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After visiting the new Whitney Museum twice, for a total of about five hours, I've come to some tentative conclusions--first and foremost, that it's a successful building for art, which always be the prime goal of an art museum. I went into this blog's archives to see what I thought when I first saw the plans--in 2011, at the groundbreaking ceremony. I recall a lot of negativity at the time, but I disagreed: ...I may rue this day, but I’m going out on a limb regarding the architecture: Piano’s design, based on the drawings and sketches I’ve … [Read more...]

The Shocking Cooper Hewitt

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Many curtain-raisers for and reviews of the newly renovated and reconceived Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum have focused on its use of technology to make the museum interactive, participatory and therefore supposedly of more interest to young generations who are not satisfied with just looking. One recent Saturday, I finally made it to this new incarnation to see for myself. I didn't mind the interactive technology. I liked much of it. Some of it was fun to play with. At one station, I designed a lovely outdoor sculpture. I did not get … [Read more...]

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