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No So Fast: Private Art Museum Under Scrutiny


“I’m not against it being done, but it’s got to be done well,” [Rob] Storr [dean of the Yale School of Art], said. “If there’s to be a public forgiveness for taxes there should be a clear public benefit, and it should not be entirely at the discretion of the person running the museum or foundation.” That statement sums up my thoughts about the phenomenon described in Sunday's New York Times, in the business section. Writing Off the Warhol Next Door: Art Collectors Gain Tax Benefits From Private Museums, by my friend Patricia Cohen, describes … [Read more...]

Remember That Retracted Announcement from Chicago?


Right before Christmas, I posted news from the Art Institute of Chicago about a new Associate Curator in the Department of Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture--Rebecca Long. It was news largely because it was another defection from the Indianpolis Museum of Art. Then the AIC retracted. It has all been fixed, and Long is indeed the new curator in Chicago. Here's the AIC press release and here is my original post, which explained the significance. … [Read more...]

Whitney’s New Collection Database: The Good And The Requested


In the runup to its move downtown this spring (to the building at right), the Whitney Museum just announced an expanded online database of its permanent collection. It's grown from 700 works of art to more than 21,000 by some 3,000 artists--"spanning all mediums—painting, sculpture, film, video, photography, works on paper, installation, and new media." Along with images of the works, this searchable database also includes written text, resources for teachers, as well as audio and video files, providing a deeper insight into select pieces. … [Read more...]

Breaking News: Graham Beal to Retire


It had to happen, after the last few years; Graham Beal, director of the Detroit Institute of Arts for the past 15-plus year, will retire on June 30. Here's what the release said: Since joining the DIA, Beal has presided over some of the most significant accomplishments in the museum’s history, including a tremendously successful reinvention of presenting art to the public; passage of a tri-county regional millage to support museum operations; and the DIA participation in the historic and unprecedented grand bargain initiative, which … [Read more...]

Picturing Mary: It Could Have Gone Another Way


Is there a woman who was painted more frequently in all of Western art than Mary? If so, I don't know of her. So many great artists painted her, in many situations, poses, costumes and guises. That was the rich territory the National Museum of Women in the Arts chose to explore in its current exhibition, Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea. And although it's not the show I conjured in my mind when I heard the title--a Leonardo side-by-side with a Raphael, a Michelangelo, a Fra Angelico, a Bellini, a Titian, and so on--it's a mind-stretching … [Read more...]

Another Shoe Drops: The Barnes Gets A New Director


Did you know that Thomas "Thom" Collins, was a native Philadelphian? I don't know if that helped, but Collins--currently director of the Perez Art Museum in Miami, has just been named executive director and president of the Barnes Foundation there. He was there for five years--some of them turbulent. But the record he posted there undoubtedly counted in Philadelphia. Here's how it was described in the press release: At PAMM, Mr. Collins oversaw construction of the new Herzog & de Meuron-designed building located in downtown Miami, which … [Read more...]

Derek Gillman, Late of the Barnes, Gets A New Job


Another personnel shift: On Monday, Derek Gillman, who headed the Barnes Foundation until 2013, when he unexpectedly stepped down to join the faculty of Drexel University, started a new job yesterday--at Christie's in New York. There, he is Chairman, Impressionist & Modern Art,  and senior vice president of The Americas unit of the auction house. The release said: [he] will work very closely with Giovanna Bertazzoni, International Head of Impressionist & Modern Art and Brooke Lampley, International Director, Impressionist & … [Read more...]

News From London: NPG, Not NG


A curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nicholas Cullinan, is taking a round-trip back to London to become director of the National Portrait Gallery. Cullinan, a curator in the modern and contemporary art department, joined the Met less than two years ago. When he did, he was described this way by Tom Campbell: He is a formidable scholar who has established himself with distinction in the field of modern and contemporary art over the past decade, particularly through his work on Cy Twombly, Arte Povera, and a range of contemporary … [Read more...]

Did Worcester Museum’s “Rethinking” Work? A FollowUp


More than a year has passed since I visited the Worcester Art Museum and wrote Museum, Remodeled and Rethought for the Wall Street Journal, so I thought I would check in with the director, Matthias Waschek, to see what had happened since then. WAM in many ways might be a model for other art museums, especially those in cities that do not attract many tourists. Brief recap: Waschek had rehung the Old Masters galleries there, medallion-style, to get people to visit the museum (a pitiful 31,435 people had visited the galleries in FY 2011, … [Read more...]

Who Will Run the National Gallery? The Odds-On Favorite…UPDATED


The National Gallery in London was expected to announce a replacement for Nicholas Penny, the director, before Christmas, and I understand that the person has been chosen; the name must now simply go through political channels, with approval by Prime Minister David Cameron, before it can be announced. One thing is for sure, though: it's not going to be Luke Syson, the curator of European sculpture and decorative arts at the Metropolitan Museum, who openly sought the job and, some sources tell me, thought he had it in the bag, thanks to his … [Read more...]

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