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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...]

How Do We Feel About Killer Heels?

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As the subject of an art exhibition, that is -- not on what to wear. That's the question I've been mulling since yesterday, when the Brooklyn Museum* sent out a press release announcing Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe, which opens there in September. Fashion exhibits are popular these days, and many are fine considerations of costumes old and new. I've lauded some here, and panned others. With a name like Killer Heels, you know the marketing folks have been involved. That's not a bad thing, depending on how deep it goes. … [Read more...]

San Francisco Museums Land A Great Gift

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There are at least three notable aspects of the gift announced the other day by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: the Thomas W. Weisel Family has donated about 200 objects of Native American art to the museum. They were amassed over three decades by Weisel, an investment banker who profited mightily as a pioneer of the tech industry in Silicon Valley. It's a good match for the FAMSF. The gift includes works that span nearly a thousand years, "from 11th century Mimbres ceramics to 19th century works," according to the press release … [Read more...]

Betsky Asked To Leave Early?

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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

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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...]

More Troubles For DIA-Detroit

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Another reason why the Detroit bankruptcy-Detroit Institute of Arts deal must become reality as soon as possible. On Friday, an opponent of the deal -- a bond insurer named Syncora -- said it was filing a subpoena "seeking all documents related to the museum’s art collection and records detailing its financial performance in a move that amplifies the tension over the DIA’s future." Bad news -- even it if doesn't stick. It could mean endless work for the DIA. According to an article in the Detroit Free Press headlined Bankruptcy creditor … [Read more...]

Juxtapositions: Portugal, Miro, Detroit, Russian Oligarchs

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The Detroit bankruptcy and the fate of the Detroit Institute of Arts is making waves in Europe, just as Kevyn Orr -- the city's emergency manager -- made remarks that show, finally, he understands what might have happened. And still might, if he and Gov. Rick Snyder waver. Creditors have not yet given up hope for a sale of the art. The European connection was detailed in an article posted on The New York Times website on March 26 -- Portugal’s Move to Sell Miró Works Raises Debate of Preservation vs. Privatization -- which referenced … [Read more...]

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