CultureGrrl hopes that the upcoming Cecilia Beaux show is the beginning of the High Museum’s intention to rely more on its own collection (which includes two Beauxs) and on its own curatorial talent, rather than shelling out big bucks for the fundraising campaigns of other institutions. High-rent shows, which even the Met is now organizing, perniciously up the ante for museum loans everywhere. These days, loan shows increasingly come not only with reasonable costs but also with kickbacks.
Since it opened its Renzo Piano-designed expansion last November, the High of Atlanta has already raised the stakes twice: first, by agreeing to bestow $6.4 million on the Louvre for the renovation of its decorative arts wing, in exchange for a series of three exhibitions. The total cost, including the renovation donation, will be a hefty $18 million.
This munificence doesn’t even get the High an exclusive: The Denver Art Museum recently announced that a modified version of the first Louvre show, which is now at the High, will travel to Denver’s even more recently expanded facility. A Denver spokesperson, Andrea Kalivas Fulton, said that future Louvre exhibitions were also being discussed, but added that disclosing financial arrangements for shows “is not something we’ve ever done.” She said that her museum had no idea whether the fee it would be paying for the first show, arranged through the High, included a tithe for Louvre renovations.
The second exhibition in the Louvre’s Atlanta trilogy will be mostly antiquities, with some Houdon thrown in. The website preview for the third episode shows no images of artworks—only postcard-worthy photos of the Louvre itself. And its description sounds like one big promo for the French museum:
Louvre Atlanta” will explore the Louvre of today and tomorrow. Exhibitions under development for this year will highlight the development of the present-day Louvre and its new relations with society and the world.
And now the High has announced that it is “developing an exhibition of three newly restored panels from Lorenzo Ghiberti‘s celebrated ‘Gates of Paradise,'” the famous gilded bronze doors, adorned with sculptural reliefs, from the Baptistery in the Piazza del Duomo, Florence. The exhibition is “tentatively scheduled” to travel to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum. The High is again (according to a NY Times report) digging into its pockets, this time to come up with funds for the restoration of a 14th-century silver altar in the Museum dell’Opera del Duomo.
Meanwhile, Michael Shapiro, director of the High, plans to deliver a talk Nov. 7 on “The Pleasures and Challenges of the Entrepreneurial Art Museum” at the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass. He will explore the “relatively new and widening gulf that has developed between the practices and values of larger, collection-rich art museums [i.e., the Louvre] and those of a more nimble, aspirational breed of museums [i.e., the High].”
“The Entrepreneurial Art Museum”? That sounds more like the lecture that the Louvre’s director, Henri Loyrette, should be giving. After all, entrepreneurs are the people who devise new schemes to make money, not questionable ways to spend it.