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Fun And Games In Art Museums

TB1

There is absolutely no point in saying something isn't offensive if you're not a member of the offended class, but let me say right off that I don't quite understand the uproar over letting visitors try on kimonos at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Yet that doesn't much matter here. I'm more puzzled over why museums like the MFA are offering dress-up opportunities in the name of audience engagement. Engagement with what? In case you have not heard, the MFA decided to have "Kimono Wednesdays" to teach visitors about Japonisme, the European … [Read more...]

When Is A Sanction Not A Sanction?

broun

The answer, it seems, is when one member of the sanctioning organization decides to ignore the punishment meted out to an offending member. I am talking about the Delaware Art Museum, which was sanctioned last year by the Association of Art Museum Directors for deaccessioning art works to raise money to pay off debt and add to its endowment. It's unclear if the second part of that happened, as the museum has declined to provide a detailed accounting of the money raised when it sold four works of art. But I digress. The AAMD statement … [Read more...]

Delaware Museum Sells More Art

Homer-MilkingTime

The Delaware Art Museum issued a statement late yesterday saying that it had sold its beautiful Winslow Homer, Milking Time (at right), and a painting by Andrew Wyeth,  Arthur Cleveland, to pay off its debts. That makes four art works sold to pay for bad mistakes (overexpansion, imo) by the museum's board and administration. You'll remember that the museum has already auctioned off William Holman Hunt’s Isabella and the Pot of Basil, which fetched £2.5 million in London, and Alexander Calder's Black Crescent. The Calder was sold privately, … [Read more...]

“Artless” In America: Why, Oh Why?

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What irony. And what a contradiction. Here we are in an era when paintings and sculpture regularly make national headlines and television newscasts for selling at sky-high prices and, at the same time, we are know-nothings about art. And we care less. The latter half of that contradiction was asserted several days ago by Michael Lind (at right), a writer whose last of 14 books (listed on his Wikipedia page) was a 2012 economic history of the U.S. He has also been an editor or staff writer at magazines including The New … [Read more...]

The Broad Museum Answers Back

Robert-Longo-Untitled-Fer-010

Several days ago, I asked here if any other art museums in the U.S. were spending as much money buying art as the Crystal Bridges Museum. I had added up the announced purchases over the past year or so by Crystal Bridges and it came to more than $150 million. I could think of only the Broad, which hasn't opened yet, as a contender. This morning, I received an email from the Broad announcing "more than 50 new artworks added to the Broad collection in anticipation of the September 20 opening." But I still think CB is spending more. That's … [Read more...]

The Met’s Coming Rebranding: A Puzzlement

MetLogo

It's no secret that Thomas P. Campbell has been working overtime to make his Metropolitan Museum* different from the one he inherited from Philippe de Montebello. And the change has been dramatic--some covered in the press, some not. At least not yet. But as the King of Siam sings in "The King and I" (and here I will stop to give a commercial to the current production at Lincoln Center Theater; if you haven't seen it, go. It is one of the best productions I have ever seen of any musical), some of what is going on at the Met is "a … [Read more...]

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

LGChildren3

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…)

Donna de Salvo

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

MoMAAlz5_photoJasonBrownrigg-300x200

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...]

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