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Is It Time To Break Up Overcrowded Museums?

Louvre

Hrag Vartanian, whom you may know as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic, had a very interesting opinion piece published on Al Jazeera America the other day. The headline was Break up the major museums to save them, with a deck saying "August institutions should build more outposts rather than cloister themselves in big cities."  Quite a proposal. His thoughts seem to have been triggered by attendance at the Louvre (12 million a year by 2025), and the experiences of many museum-goers -- who can barely get near the art because … [Read more...]

Good News From The Middle East

IraqMuseum

I'm still catching up with news that occurred while I was away on vacation, and since this qualifies and it happened in the hapless Middle East, I thought I'd report it: in mid-August, it seems, the Iraqi National Museum reopened two renovated halls that display ancient sculptures. Mainly life-sized ones, according to a report by the Associated Press. It said that the new galleries "feature more than 500 artifacts that mainly date back to the Hellenistic period (312-139 B.C.), some of which were retrieved and renovated after the looting of … [Read more...]

The Importance Of Having A Watchdog – UPDATED

AshevilleArtMuseum

The Asheville Art Museum seems to have a watchdog on its tail, probably in a good way -- in fact, in a way such that it makes me wonder if, say, the Corcoran Gallery of Art might have survived as it was had it had someone similarly watching its every move. In Asheville, the watchdog is a man named Ken Michalove, the former mayor and city manager.  He says the museum "is headed for bankruptcy unless it ramps up its own fundraising, sticks to its original goals and stops trying to adjust its game plan and financial reports so as to qualify for … [Read more...]

Is This A “New” Piero della Franscesca? (Corrected)

PierodellaFrancesca

"New" works by Old Masters turn up all the time in places like Italy -- especially Italian churches. So it's not surprising perhaps that one of the latest discoveries took place in St. Anthony the Abbott Church in San Polo. There, a fresco -- some art historians say -- is at least partly by the hand of Piero della Francesca. San Polo is about a 165 miles to the north and west of  in the hills just above Arezzo, where Piero created his famous Legend of the True Cross frescoes. A few weeks back, the Italian press published articles, including … [Read more...]

I’m Away…

I'm taking a vacation, back just after Labor Day. … [Read more...]

Mass MoCA Dreams Big: And Wakes Up Almost Middle-Aged

josephthompson

With the stroke of Gov. Deval Patrick’s pen a few weeks ago, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art got the go-ahead to realize the nearly 30-year-old dream of transforming a 19th century, 26-building, 16-acre factory complex into a destination arts center that would also help revive the economy of North Adams, Mass. As the art world knows, the road has been a bit bumpy and, along the way, the vision has changed. But Mass MoCA has hit something of a groove of late, giving state officials the confidence to allocate $25.4 million from … [Read more...]

Ethics 101 For Dealers: Deaccessioning

Delaware-Art-Museum

Are dealers are "accessories" to an ethical violation if they agree to sell works of art for museums, like the Delaware Art Museum (pictured below), that are selling to raise money for capital or operational purposes? Accessories to criminal acts may, after all, be guilty of an infraction. That's the underlying question, but not my point, in a short piece I wrote, published today, on a  a new(ish) website based in London and with an international audience, mainly of art and antiques dealers. The site, Art Antiques Design, was started by a … [Read more...]

Name The Best Four Hudson River School Paintings — To Go On Stamps

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On Monday, the Nelson-Atkins Museum announced that its wonderful Grand Canyon painting by Thomas Moran, from 1912, would grace a Forever stamp as part of an homage to the Hudson River School of artists -- it's one of four tributes. What are the other three paintings? (I got no other press notices.) Were the other three museums, as the Post Office would choose only from works held in the public domain, mum on the honor? Guess so. But I looked it up. As you can well imagine, the other three artists in this series are Thomas Cole, Asher B. … [Read more...]

Corcoran Case: Over. “Painful.” But Necessary, Alas?

Corcoran Gallery via AP

Judge rules that mergers can proceed, a headline about the Corcoran Gallery of Art cy pres case would say. But the decision, D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Okun made, he said, was "painful." That's sort of how I have felt from the beginning: it's a bad situation and it's pretty hard to dream up a way to save the Corcoran as it was. The Corcoran's troubles and management/governance, or lack thereof, had simply got too bad, and the Corcoran was damaged goods. I never believed in the plan of Wayne Reynolds to save it; in the long run, I … [Read more...]

Museum-Goers Say The Darndest Things

3 El Morocco New YorkWinogrand

Remember the old Art Linkletter "House Party" TV show feature, "Kids Say the Darndest Things"? Linkletter would interview kids and they would provide answers that boggled the mind, either because they were funny or poignant. I couldn't help think of it yesterday, after a visit to the Metropolitan Museum.* Among the exhibits I visited was Garry Winogrand, which consists of "more than 175 of the artist's iconic images, a trove of unseen prints, and even Winogrand’s famed series of photographs made at the Metropolitan Museum in 1969 when the … [Read more...]

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