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                       What are the some of the major events that took place in the museum world in the past 3 months? 6 months?

                      Find some hard facts- and some gossip- here. 


July 2017

 News from New Jersey

Together with the renewal efforts taking place around the city of Newark, the Newark Museum (NJ) is undertaking a $5 million project to improve and update its facilities. Exterior enhancements will include new double glass doors to serve as the main entrance, a public terrace to be used for programs and events, and a new ramp to make the building fully accessible. Inside, the new main entrance will result in a transformation of the existing space—updated visitor’s amenities, a spotlight on the Arts of Global Africa collection, a new 5,000-square-foot exhibition space, and a new lift to accommodate all visitors.

The museum is open to the public throughout construction.

Adding to its physical renewal, the Newark Museum received a $750,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to expand and reinterpret its permanent galleries of American art and to document the collections through two new publications. The two-year grant will support the renamed and fully renovated “Seeing America” galleries in which African-American, Latin American, and European-American art will be showcased.

 100 Years

On November 25, 1917, the New Mexico Museum of Art officially opened its doors to the public. A crowd of 1,200 gathered to celebrate the opening of the state’s first art museum. “The art museum shall uplift us to the level of our own better natures and make us worthy of the heritage which the mighty past has left us,” said the opening speaker.

            This year, 100 years later, the New Mexico Museum of Art—after a two-month closure for restoration and the installation of new exhibitions—will host a series of 100 programs, events, and celebrations honoring its past and looking ahead to its future. November 25 will be the kick-off day when guests can participate in a day-long celebration of the following year-long birthday events.

 Nature’s Museum

  A 5 1/2-acre wooded area around the Kreeger Museum’s (DC) Sculpture Garden opened to the public in May. It expands the exhibitions space for contemporary sculpture while offering visitors the opportunity to explore the relationship between art and the natural world.

 Arctic Landscape Is Brought to Life

            With tourism increasing in Alaska, the Anchorage Museum (AL) has introduced a new Land Marks series using technology to expose its visitors, few of whom have ever seen the miracles of this part of the world, to remote Arctic landscapes. The series was launched in May with “Terra,” a wall installation showing digital and moving images of Arctic landscapes and wildlife.

            Excitement among the museum’s professionals derives from the accessibility of the off-the-shelf technology used to deliver content. Nearly 1,200 Nanoleaf Aurora panels—triangular, color-changing, LED light panels—comprise the installation. These panels are available at retail outlets or online. Users control the light through their mobile devices or by verbal commands. Most often, units are used as decorative or lighting elements in homes or businesses. Here, the Anchorage Museum is exhibiting the largest installation of Nanoleaf Aurora panels to date, and the first to integrate film and digital images. The museum’s design team fabricated 28 sheet metal panels to hold the 1,188 triangular lights used in the installation, which is almost 58 feet wide and nearly 6 ½ feet high. Nanoleaf Canada Limited is based in Toronto.

An additional attraction at the Anchorage at Rasmuson Center is the new wing to the museum, which makes its debut in September. It adds 25,000 square feet for the collection of Northern art, new Discovery Center space, and an informal gallery and event space.   

 A Little Havana Emerges in Miami

  El Museum de Little Havana (FL) is, as of May this year, a permanent museum on Calle Ocho in Miami. It features the history of the neighborhood, home to many Cuban exiles and immigrants from Central and South America, and showcases the social, cultural, and political import of the area in South Florida. The announcement was made at the site by the partners who effectively brought it about: the Barlington Group and the HistoryMiami Museum.

            In the first half of the 20th century, before it became the quarter it is today, homesteading farmers, a Jewish population, and pockets of post-WWII ethnic groups called the neighborhood home. The late 1950s and after saw an influx of Cubans; it was at that time that it became known as Little Havana.

            The resources of the HistoryMiami Museum are evident in the inaugural exhibition of El Museum de Little Havana: photographs and artifacts tell the story of the history of the three-square-mile neighborhood.

 Big $$ for Fellows

The Meadows Museum (TX) at Southern Methodist University in Dallas announced that it has received a new grant of $80,000 ($40,000 for each of two years) from the Center for Spain in America to fund two more years of the museum’s pre-doctoral Meadows/Prado Curatorial Fellowship. These fellowships provide a scholarly, professional, and international experience, offering its participants the opportunity to research Spanish art at both museums. One appointment is made by each institution annually. In 2014, with Mellon Foundation support, the program was expanded to include a post-doctoral fellowship.

            “The Meadows Museum takes great pride in training the next generation of curators, art historians, conservators, and museum professionals,” said Director Mark Roglán.

 Conserving Computer-Based Art

    A research and treatment initiative to preserve software and computer-based artwork was undertaken in 2016 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. It began with the restoration of Shu Lea Cheang’s web work Brandon (1998-99). Begun and completed: all pages are now accessible, text and image animations are displayed properly, internal and external links are no longer broken. Brandon can once again be accessed at

 Glass Sculpture Provides Respite

The Chihuly Sanctuary—the most comprehensive health care environment structure ever created by glass artist Dale Chihuly— was unveiled in mid-May at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, Nebraska. 

            Located on the second and fourth floors in the heart of the 10-story cancer center, the Chihuly Sanctuary features ten site-specific art installations designed to provide a place of respite and reflection for patients, families, and staff. It will serve as the cornerstone of the Healing Arts Program with art on display throughout the massive 615,000-square-foot, $323M building on the campus of the University of Nebraska Medical Center and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine.

Chihuly created a new body of work he calls Glass on Glass—a combination of painting and sculpture that is both two- and three-dimensional, transparent, and opaque. The glass on glass pieces will make their world premiere at the Chihuly Sanctuary. To create these pieces, Chihuly paints with vitreous-glass enamel on glass panels—glass on glass. He then creates overlapping compositions that are encased within a frame. When lit, they come to life as multidimensional paintings in color, light, and glass.

 The Art of the Draw

Four Santa Fe (NM) cultural institutions celebrate the “Art of the Draw” during the summer months of 2017. The multi-venue collaboration celebrates drawing as fundamental for creation in the arts and sciences for representational painting, sculpting, engineering, design, and architecture. Four exhibitions/events explore drawing as the root of art.

            At the New Mexico Museum of Art: “Lines of Thought: Drawings from Michelangelo to Now: From the British Museum” (Sept. 17) Works that span more than six centuries.

            At the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum: “A Great American Artist, A Great American Story” (Oct. 31) Drawings presented in conjunction with finished paintings, show how O’Keeffe worked out ideas before picking up her paintbrush.

            At the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Museum of Contemporary Native Arts: “Action Abstraction Redefined” (Dec. 31, 2018) Objects and drawings created in the 1960s and 70s .

            At the Santa Fe Desert Chorale Summer Festival: For the program entitled “Liberté: Music of Resistance and Revolution,” the eighth movement of Francis Poulenc’s Figure Humaine, a score dedicated to Pablo Picasso.

 DuPont Corporation Gifts Delaware Museums

  DuPont has announced that it will make a substantial donation of significant works of art from the DuPont collection and the Hotel du Pont to the Brandywine River Museum of Art, the Delaware Art Museum, and the Hagley Museum & Library. The gift includes works by three generations of the Wyeth family, Frank Schoonover, and Edward Loper, among others.

 Polk Museum of Art Goes Academic

After more than a year in planning, the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, Florida, became central Florida’s only community academic art museum on June 1, when a new affiliation was launched between the museum and Florida Southern College.  The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College, home to the world’s largest collection of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, brings a host of benefits not only to the college, but also to the local community, the state of Florida, and visitors to the region.

Thanks to generous donors, the museum will maintain its free admission policy, and will host art exhibitions and expand its role as a venue for community events. It will retain its own non-profit status and strive to draw visitors to the Lakeland area from throughout the United States.

A new chapter for the college and the museum began with a major exhibition of works from the Dutch Golden Age. “Rembrandt’s Academy: Old Master Paintings from Private Dutch Collections,” organized by the Hoogsteder Museum Foundation, The Netherlands, will be on view through September 24. Another exhibition on the horizon will feature paintings of American figurative art, a selection from a recent gift donated by alumnus J. William Meek III. Meek’s collection and the coming exhibition focuses on figurative works that illustrate the human form. In addition, the same exhibition will include Meek’s other gift of artworks from the estates of major American artists.

 Adirondack Museum Redefined

No longer bearing its former handle, the Adirondack Museum (NY) has opened as the Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake. The new branding and updates serve to better represent the institution to the next generation of visitors, while maintaining its collection and its same kaleidoscopic range of programs and activities.

            “Consumer research indicates that the travelers and tourists of today have different expectations of cultural attractions. They want rich interactive experiences that immerse them in their environment and create instantly shareable and long-lasting memories,” explained Executive Director David Kahn. “To compete with new destinations in the Adirondack region and around the Northeast, we need to ensure our identity reflects what we truly are: a 121-acre indoor-and-outdoor experience. We provide a fun, active, and educational way for visitors to immerse themselves into the reality of life, work, and recreation in the Adirondacks.

            “We remain steadfast in our mission to expand public understanding of Adirondack history and the relationship between people and the Adirondack wilderness.”

  Museum Mile, New York Style

Celebrating its 39th year, New York’s Museum Mile took over Fifth Avenue from 82nd Street to 105th Street, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on a balmy night in June. Since its inception 39 years ago, more than 1.5 million people have taken part, visiting along the way seven of the city’s premier cultural institutions, which are open free to the public for the duration of the evening. The opening ceremony took place at El Museo del Barrio, the farthest north of the participating museums, which also include the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Neue Galerie New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum; the Jewish Museum; the Museum of the City of New York.

            Special exhibitions and works from permanent collections were on view inside the museums’ galleries and live music from jazz to Broadway tunes to string quartets regaled the crowds in the street.

            At the Museo del Barrio: “Belkis Ayón: NKAME”—a retrospective of this Cuban artist who mined the founding myth of the Afro-Cuban fraternal society Abakuá to create his visual iconography. Also, in partnership with the Wallach Art Gallery, El Museo presented “UPTOWN: nasty women/bad hombres,” which featured the work of artists engaged with sexism, racism, homophobia, the power of the media, and violence.

            At the Museum of the City of New York: “Rhythm & Power: Salsa in New York”—an exploration of how immigrant and migrant communities in the city developed salsa into a global phenomenon.

            At the Jewish Museum: “Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry”—paintings, drawings, costume and theater designs, photographs, and ephemera.

            At the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum: “The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s”—interior and industrial design, decorative art, jewelry, fashion, architecture, music, and film.

At the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: “Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim”—works by Picasso, Kandinsky, Pollock, Mondrian, and Brancusi.

At the Neue Galerie New York: “Austrian Masterworks from the Neue Galerie New York”—Klimt, Kokoschka, Kubin, and Schiele.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Rei Kawakubo/Come des Garçons: Art of the In-Between”—womenswear from 1981 to the present.

 DNA Evidence in Long Island

The Innocents, a 2002 series of photographs by Taryn Simon is on display at the Guild Hall Art Center (NY) in East Hampton through July. The exhibit marks the 25th anniversary of the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization that aims to use DNA evidence to exonerate the wrongfully convicted.

            The display shows innocent people who had served time for crimes they did not commit at the site of their alleged criminal act, or at the site where they were incorrectly identified.

“This entire exhibit is about misleading visual evidence,” said Andrea Grover, executive director of the Hall. She goes on to opine that in “an indirect way” the series relates to the idea of fake news and the intensifying of ideological bias in the media. “This series encourages one to look at photography in a much deeper way—not to look at it as factual, as some absolute truth.”

            About the series, Simon writes: “Photography’s ability to blur truth and fiction is one of its most compelling qualities. But when misused as part of a prosecutor’s arsenal, this ambiguity can have severe, even lethal consequences. Photography can turn fiction into fact…its ambiguity, beautiful in one context, can be devastating in another.”

 The Logic of Time on Display

Themed displays are on a downward trajectory; chronological displays have come back. When the new Villa Getty (CA) reopens in 2018, after nine years of renovation and expansion, galleries will have been rehung based on the chronological output of the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Etruscans. Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum Timothy Potts: Themed galleries are “fine as a social history of art, [but chronology] is the only way you can understand the direction of stylistic change.”

            It’s a mini-trend: The National Gallery of Art (D.C.) reopened its East Building last September with an historical narrative of Modern art. The Museum of Modern Art (NY) recently closed its nine-gallery, year-by-year presentation of works from the 1960s.

            Curator at the Villa Jeffrey Spier explains: The rehang will be “a more intellectually coherent” presentation with a clear sense of stylistic development over time.

April 2017

Houston Welcomes New Museum

            Rice University (TX) announced the opening of its new, internationally focused arts institution. The Moody Center for the Arts was conceived as a platform for creating collaborative works and for presenting innovative transdisciplinary experiences to the public as well as the university community. The center, a 50,000-square-foot, $30 million building, opened in late February with the mayor of Houston, civic officials, leaders of other cultural institutions, donors, artists, students, and the public in attendance. The occasion was the setting for gala parties, panel discussions, and the world premiere of a Vespertine Awakening, a commissioned dance work, and a late-night student party. 

 Small Liberal Arts College Receives Large Gift

            The Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, three hours north of Boston, was the recipient of a gift of 1,500 works of art ranging from Van Gogh to Weiwei. Peter and Paula Lunder, collectors with strong ties to Maine and the college are the donors whose generosity to the college included a previous gift in 2013 of  hundreds of works to open a $15 million space designed to house their collection. The new donation, which includes money to endow a new study institute, is valued at more than $100 million.

            The Lunder Institute for American Art will host on-campus residencies for scholars, artists, and graduate students, and develop exhibitions and conferences centered around the museum’s collection.

            “It’s game changing, says Colby President David A. Greene. “You may get this at a major university, but this is the kind of thing that is just never done at a liberal arts college.”

 Maine Museum, Reimagined, Reopens

            After a month-long closure for renovations, the Portland Museum of Art reopened as a reinstalled, re-envisioned museum. For the inaugural spectacle, a massive 130-foot-wide cinematic production, Lights Across Congress, was screened onto the façade of the museum, at the end of which the museum doors were open to the gathered visitors. More than 20 community organizations, businesses, and supporters as well as ice sculptors, food trucks, and the Friends of Congress Square Park took part in the festivities.

 First and Only—Writers Featured

            A grand opening took place on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago in the spring of this year—the American Writers Museum, the first and only museum of its kind in America, celebrates American writers by exploring their influence on the country’s history, its identity, its culture, and its people.

            The interactive, high-tech museum will showcase the personal stories and literary works of diverse American writers, from Mark Twain to Dr. Seuss. Themed galleries, changing exhibits, educational programing, and special events will crowd the calendar. Visitors will come face to face with great writers in the Writers Hall, accompany roving writers such as Kerouac and Steinbeck on their travels, visit writers’ homes and fictional sites in Nation of Writers. Exhibits will de-mystify famed writers’ lives and methods. Readers Hall will host films, talks, readings, and presentations to schools and other groups.

 Re-Visioned: A Philip Johnson Work

            2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the completion of the Kreeger Museum (DC), designed by Philip Johnson in 1964, finished in 1967. Two prominent Washington architects took on the task of conceiving and curating a special exhibition celebrating the occasion.

            “ Our vision for this anniversary exhibition goes beyond the expected historic sketches, photographs of construction, and archival correspondence between Mr. Johnson and his client. Instead we have asked artists to create entirely new artistic material based on the inspired design of the building. We want the public to see the museum in new and fresh ways; through the eyes of some of the region’s most prominent art photographers. Each artist creates images that will engage the public and challenge them to look at Philip Johnson’s work from the artist’s unique point of view. In that way, the building itself transforms from being the subject of the exhibition to becoming the inspiration.” –Hickok Cole Architects Michael E. Hickok and Yolanda Cole

 Storm Wreaks Havoc

            Early in January, high winds hit the Albany, Georgia, area, leaving devastation in its wake. The Albany Museum of Art sustained severe damage that resulted in its closing: sections of the roof were torn off allowing rain into offices, galleries, and vaults. Several inches of water on the second and first floors caused the outage of power and humidity control.

Due to immediate action by Director Paula Williams, reaching out to staff, board members, insurance companies, lenders, volunteers, and professionals in the field, a task force was formed to help in the recovery. Conservationists assessed damage, while unharmed objects were transported to off-site fine-arts storage facilities. The extent of the damage and the time and cost to repair them are still not known.

 Houston (TX) Gets New Gallery

            Houston’s new international arts center, the Moody Center for the Arts, opened on the campus of Rice University on February 24, 2017. A noncollecting institution, it was built for collaborative works of all kinds and for presenting transdisciplinary experiences. It opened with five art exhibitions, a world-premiere dance performance, and four days of events celebrating the center’s presence on the campus as well as in the community.

            Designed by Michael Maltzan, the Moody contains an art gallery; a gallery for experimental artwork; a multi-media gallery for video and installation art; a studio theater seating 150 people; a Maker space—wood shop, metal shop, paint shop, and prototyping area; studio classrooms; a tech-issue library; audio visual editing booths; offices; and a café.

 “Art-Less” Day Protests Ban

            In its wisdom, the Davis Museum at Wellesley College (MA), marked Presidents’ Day this year with its response to President Trump’s executive order to ban citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. The response, “Art-Less,” highlighted the contributions of immigrants by de-installing or shrouding works on view from the permanent collection that were either made by artists who were immigrants, or given to the institution by immigrant collectors. Easily removable objects such as paintings were de-installed, while other pieces such as objects in display cases, were shrouded with black fabric. Both actions demonstrated what has been gained from the contribution of immigrants. Some 120 objects, or about one-fifth of the works on display were affected.

            Director Lisa Fischman: “We’ll see pockets of absence all over the museum. The African art section is almost entirely lost to view.” (Around 80 percent of the works were donated by a family who came to the U.S. from Poland after WWII.)

            The Davis encourages other institutions to take a similar approach. For the entire Art-Less week, objects removed or covered are labeled “made by an immigrant” or “given by an immigrant.” The graphic design of the labels are available on the Davis website for other museums to use. “I don’t see why we wouldn’t respond [to the ban], said Fischman. “I wouldn’t expect art to influence policy, but I would expect the encounter of art to transform lives.”

 $1B Museum to Rise in LA

            Star Wars creator George Lucas announced plans to build a museum, the Lucas Museum, in Los Angeles to house his collection of artworks—some 10,000 paintings and illustrations—and memorabilia in Exposition Park, nestled between the California Science Center and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The final decision came after plans to establish his museum in Chicago faltered due to a two-year legal fight with conservationists. In addition, the choice of Los Angeles came after almost ten years and a competition with San Francisco, which finally offered Treasure Island as the museum venue.

            The promised location in Exposition Park, said members of the board, “best positions the museum to have the greatest impact on the broader community.” The focus will be on narrative art, but at present, directors are focusing on “building what we believe will be one of the most imaginative and inclusive art museums in the world.”

 Noted: Openings and Acquisitions

            *  Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, previously known as the Santa Monica Museum of Art, will open a new 12,700-square-foot, $5-million space in the city’s Arts District, transforming a classic mid-century warehouse into a state-of-the-art museum. In addition to galleries, an education annex, indoor/outdoor café, and garden, the museum will also feature an experimental kitchen café.

*          *  Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami is due to move to its new 37,000-square-foot  home in the city’s Design District.

            *  A private equity tycoon plans to open a private museum in New York City’s Chelsea district. It will show modern and contemporary art.

            *  The Marciano Art Foundation is due to launch an exhibition space in Los Angeles in a former Masonic Temple.

            *  The Bass Museum (Miami Beach, FL), refurbished, is scheduled for a spring 2017 reopening. The museum has been closed since May 2015. Fifty percent more space has been added.

            *  The Getty Museum in Los Angeles paid a record $30,000 million at auction for Orazio Gentileschi’s Danaë, a rendering of Zeus stealing into the bedroom of a princess. It joins another of the museum’s collection of Gentileschi’s work from the three-part series, Lot and His Daughters.

            *  The Philadelphia Museum of Art was the recipient of a bequest including more than 50 works of art by Cy Twombly, Philip Guston, Agnes Martin, and Edward Hopper. Also included in the bequest is a $10 million endowment to support contemporary art programs.

            *  The Museum of Modern Art (NY) recently received a gift of 102 modern works by Brazilian, Venezuelan, Argentinian, and Uruguayan artists from the Phelps de and Gustavo Cisnero, thus reinforcing it positions as a prominent center for the study of Latin American art. In addition, the couple endowed a new research institute at the museum dedicated to Latin American art.

            *  Real estate investor James Goldstein has promised to donate his estate and its contents to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as a $17 million endowment upon his demise. His Modernist home near Beverly Hills is the first work of architecture to enter the museum’s collection.

            *  The Cincinnati Art Museum has acquired the Joel and Bernice Weisman collection of 800 Japanese prints made during the period that spans the 17th to the 20th centuries. An extensive reference library accompanies the collection, which represents a broad spectrum of artists and styles across the ages.

 Can You Name Five Women Artists?

            The National Museum of Women in the Arts (DC) launched the second year of its #5WomenArtists social media campaign during March—Women’s History Month. The object: to reach a wide audience to celebrate women artists. Using the hashtag #5WomenArtists, the museum challenges social media users to answer the question, “Can you name five women artists?” “Our goal,” says Director Susan Fisher Sterling, “is to reinforce the numerous conversations we have sparked around the globe about gender parity in the arts.”

            Last March, nearly 400 art museums, libraries, and galleries from 20 countries shared their favorite women artists, and more than 11,000 individuals joined in. National Museum of Women in the Arts greatly increased its social media reach, including raising its Instagram followers by 140 percent. Drawing on the enthusiasm generated by the first campaign, more than 150 institutions from 41 states, 16 countries, and five continents have signed on as contributors in 2017 at museumVIEWS publication time.

            This year, to enhance the campaign, NMWA is partnering with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo (NY) and Balboa Park in San Diego (CA). Albright-Knox’s annual #ArtMadness competition asks fans to vote for their favorite artworks, highlighting the importance of female artists. With a focus on parks and nature, Balboa Park celebrates women in arts and culture by inviting organizations, artists, and photographers to “takeover” its Instagram account; NMWA posts works from its collection for one day during the week-long takeover.

            NMWA works closely with Google Arts & Culture, which highlights works from more than 1,000 museums worldwide. By the end of March, the museum will have added 100 images to the Google platform, which is used in museums and classrooms around the world.

Muslim Center to Enrich Manhattan        

Sometime in May, against the backdrop of President Donald Trump’s ongoing attempt to ban immigrants from six mainly Muslim countries from entering the U.S., Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani, a Qatari national based in New York, is due to launch the Institute of Arab and Islamic Art, a cultural space in downtown Manhattan. The institute will host exhibitions traveling from the Arab and Islamic worlds.

“It made absolute sense to build an institute that would not only showcase the breadth of art and culture from the Arab and Islamic worlds, but also challenge certain stereotypes and misconceptions that hinder cross-cultural understanding,” Al-Thani says.

            Plans are in place to hold quarterly exhibitions at this non-collecting institute. Other expectations include a residency program, translation facilities, and the production of publications. Although the location has not been announced, the organization declares itself an independent, non-profit center supported by donors and sponsors.

            “We exist because of an ever-challenging environment,” says Al-Thani, “and the current political climate in the US will only encourage us to continue our hard work and make sure that through our institute’s program, we will be able to engage the community to learn more about our cultures and differences.”

January 2016

Speed Receives Gift

            The Speed Art Museum (KY) has received a gift of 35 contemporary artworks from Los Angeles-based collector Gordon W. Bailey. The gift focuses on  works created by African-American artists from the South. All the artists are making their debuts in the museum’s permanent collection.

 New Galleries in D.C.

            The Smithsonian American Art Museum has reimagined its permanent collection: refurbished galleries, featuring recent acquisitions, an expanded presentation of the much loved Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly by James Hampton, traditional pieces such as quilts, and works that reveal a more personal vision.

            “The Smithsonian American Art Museum has long recognized folk and self-taught art as integral to the greater story of American art,” said Betsy Broun, museum director. “The museum’s mission to tell the story of America through the art of its people is particularly relevant at a time when museums everywhere are realizing that an expanded narrative of American art is necessary for engaging and satisfying contemporary audiences and accurately portraying the scope of creativity in this country.”

             In other news, the Smithsonian American Art Museum reports that it has surpassed its campaign goals for both financial and significant gifts, a combined total of $105 million with more than a year remaining in the campaign. A portion of the funds are earmarked for renovation of the historic building, the addition of an education center in the National Historic Landmark Renwick Gallery, and enhancing the endowments. Most recently the museum was gifted with four multichannel video installations by David Hockney, several works by Bill Traylor and William Edmondson, a Grandma Moses painting, 100 photographs by Irving Penn, a steel sculpture by David Smith, works by Mel Bochner, Louise Bourgeois, Eric Fischl, Richard Prince, Richard Estes, Harriet Frishmuth, Nicholas Nixon, Dale Chihuly, and Roy Lichtenstein.

 2016 Hugo Boss Prize Awarded

            Announced by Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation (NY), and Mark Langer, chairman and CEO of Hugo Boss AG: Anicka Yi has been awarded the Hugo Boss Prize of 2016. Yi is the 11th artist to receive the biennial prize which was established in 1996 to recognize significant achievement in contemporary art. The winner receives $100,000, and a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim in April 2017.

 Latin America Art Comes to NYC

            The Museum of Modern Art (NY) has received a gift from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, adding more than 100 works of modern art by major artists from Latin America to the collection, and establishing the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Research Institute for the Study of Art from Latin America. The institute will offer opportunities for curatorial research and travel, host visiting scholars and artists, convene an annual international conference, and produce research publications on art from Latin America—becoming a preeminent research center in the field.

            The Cisneros gift includes 102 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, made between the 1940s and 1990s by 37 artists working in Brazil, Venezuela, and the Rio de la Plata region of Argentina and Uruguay.

 Writers Museum Opens

            “The first and only museum of its kind in the nation” crows the announcement of the opening   in March 2017 of the American Writers Museum on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The museum will showcase the personal stories and literary works of diverse American writers, from Mark Twain to Dr. Seuss, through its themed galleries, interactive exhibits, educational programs, and special events.

 Myth Makers in Maryland

            Artists Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein (aka Myth Makers) are the builders of a sapling sculpture, constructed on the grounds of the Academy Art Museum (MD)—a 25-foot high bird sculpture, made from natural materials with the help of scavenging volunteers. The figure is based on the Hooded Merganser, a bird that is common in Maryland; figuratively it represents independence and bravery, referencing favorite Eastern Shore native Frederick Douglass.

            Although monumental in scale, the artists’ works are temporary, site specific, and responsive to weather conditions. They last up to a year, appearing, fading, and disappearing. Similar works have been shown in Peru, Switzerland, Canada, China, on Broadway (NY), in Muskegon (MI), New Orleans (LA), and all around New England.

            The goal of the museum is to engage the neighboring counties, a wider audience. To that end programs include links to the surrounding flora, history, visual arts, and language arts.

 African Art Gallery Redesigned

            The reinstallation of the Cincinnati Art Museum’s (OH) permanent collection of African art was unveiled in December 2016. Many of the artifacts are on view for the first time, the new design and layout placing artworks in thematic groupings—a cultural and historical context. Some objects are on view in visible storage drawers.

 WWII Drawings at the Morgan

            An artist named Philip Pearlstein found his métier while serving in the army: assigned to the visual-aids shop charged with producing charts, map keys, and manuals, he learned silk screening and printing techniques, and used his spare time, both in the U.S. and overseas to make sketches and watercolors of everyday army life. This cache of works survived the war and found its way to a New York Gallery and thence to the Morgan Library and Museum (NY) through a small group of generous donors.

            After recording the realities of life as a G.I in basic training, the crossing of the Atlantic in a ship convoy, and landscapes and civilians he encountered, Pearlstein came home to graduate from the Carnegie Institute and move to New York to begin a career as a graphic artist. His companion on his move was a younger friend named Andy Warhola with whom he roomed and began work on catalogs and magazine illustrations. Both blossomed during the 1950s and 60s, Pearlstein becoming a major representative of the figurative tradition in postwar American art.

 Architectural Masterpiece Preserved

            Construction has begun on the West Mount Vernon Place, one of five historic buildings that make up the Walters Art Museum’s (MD) campus in Baltimore. When it reopens in spring 2018, the Walters will have completed a major revitalization that will preserve the architecture and history of the building while creating a space to present a new approach to the collection. The goal: to energize audiences, broaden the museum’s appeal, and extend the museum’s connection to the historic Mount Vernon neighborhood.

            The project carries with it a $10.4 million price tag. Support has come from the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, Baltimore County, and other sources. $6 million has already been procured; the museum is working t raise the balance. Included in the project is the Hackerman House mansion, scheduled to reopen in spring 2018, the John and Berthe Ford Gallery, and the Carriage House, both to reopen in fall 2017.

            The Walters’ strategic plan encompasses a set of multi-year goals and initiatives that envision the museum as a transformative force in the region. The completion of One West Mount Vernon Place is the spark that will ignite and inspire the community.

 Fellowships Awarded by USA

            The United States Artists has awarded 2016 USA Fellowship Awards of $50,000 each to 46 artists across nine creative disciplines—architecture and design, crafts, dance, literature, media, music, theater and performance, traditional arts, and visual arts. The 2016 Fellows were selected from over 500 artists nominated by their peers and judged by panels of experts in each discipline.

Founded in 2006 by the Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson, and Prudential Foundations, USA has provided almost $25 million in the form of unrestricted $50,000 awards to nearly 500 artists.

This year’s group of Fellows will be celebrated in Chicago at USA’s annual Artist Assembly in March 27-29 2017.

 Building Boom

            Museums spent some $5 billion on construction between 2007 and 2014. Astounding, considering that at the same time the country was in a deep economic recession. The conclusion: It’s easier to raise funds for new buildings than for art.

 Gender Equality??

            A meager 27 percent of 590 major solo shows in 70 museums  between 2007 and 2013 were devoted to women. This phenomenon is improving, particularly in the U.S. and Western Europe, but it’s not yet what it should be.

 $ for Clinton

            Millions were raised by artists for Hillary Clinton to no avail. Artists remain unbelieving at the unbelievable result of the election.

 Monuments Men

            The awe-inspiring group of men who were at work discovering lost and stolen artworks after WWII are poised to go back in action for the British Army, depending on the ratification of the Hague Convention that protects cultural property during war. Different men, same objective.

 Late news

            Picasso’s electrician Pierre Le Guennec—the one who stole 271 works, made between 1900 and 1930, from the maestro and hid them for 40 years—was given a suspended prison sentence, recently upheld by the court of appeals in Aix-en-Provence. The electrician’s wife received the same penalty. The artworks, including portraits of family and friends, two sketchbooks, and rare Cubist collages, none catalogued or signed, will be returned to the Picasso family.

            Turns out that Le Guennec and his wife were buddies of Picasso’s late chauffeur Maurice Bresnu, who stole and ultimately sold some 600 of Picasso’s drawings.

 Later news

            A double-sided drawing by Leonardo da Vinci—Saint Sebastian bound to a tree on the front, optical studies and text on the reverse—was discovered in Paris at the auction house Tajan. The discovery, authenticated by a bevy of important experts, is thought to be among the drawings referred to in da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus, a tome of his drawings, sketches and scientific studies. To now, only three have been located.

            A temporary export ban will apply if the work is declared a “national treasure” by French authorities, in which case France will be given 30 months to buy it at market value.


 October 2016

Did You Know….

            Charleston, South Carolina, was home to the first formal exhibition of Solomon R. Guggenheim’s modern art collection. The exhibition was presented at the Gibbes Museum of Art (SC) in 1936 and again in 1938, 21 years before Guggenheim’s collection found a permanent home in today’s museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

            After purchasing a home along the Charleston Battery and a property in nearby Yemassee in the 1920s, Solomon and Irene Guggenheim quickly became prominent figures in the Charleston community. Before becoming the first director of the Guggenheim Museum, art advisor Hilla Rebay curated the 1936 and 1938 exhibitions, bringing international attention to Charleston and record attendance levels for the Gibbes Museum of Art. Presently on exhibit once again, the character of the exhibitions has been preserved, occupying the exact building of the original showing, and adopting the specified original arrangement: the works are separated into sections, one for non-objective works and another for objective paintings.

Kahlo Portrait Holds Message

            Less than a week before the U.S. presidential election in November, a powerful self-portrait by Frida Kahlo standing astride the U.S.-Mexico border will go on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PA). Painted in 1932, Self-Portrait on the Borderline Between Mexico and the United States seems to defy time: It comes on view as a timely witness to the anti-immigration rhetoric of politicians who vow to force Mexico to build a wall on the border between the two countries.     

            Just 25 years old, Kahlo was in the United States with her husband Diego Rivera, who was working on various commissions across the country. Unhappy with life in the U.S., she wanted to return to Mexico. Her self-portrait shows a defiant Kahlo in a pink dress holding a Mexican flag in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She stands on the pedestal between an industrial American landscape of skyscrapers and factory smokestacks (marked “Ford” and obscuring the U.S. flag in a haze), and a Mexican desert of ancient ruins, Mesoamerican objects, native plants, and a skull. The two countries’ shared roots are treated with similar irony, with plants reaching deep into the soil on the Mexican side and electric wires dangling into the dirt north of the border.

Buddha Restored in Public

            For six months, visitors to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MA) can either follow on line or watch conservators as they publicly restores Hanabusa Itch?’s rare masterpiece Death of Buddha (1773), one of the most important Buddhist paintings of its time.

            The elaborate process proceeds through several steps: the dismantling of the scroll, and its reassembling; the installation of a new mounting, one that uses custom-woven silk (a reproduction of the original), which is made for the MFA by traditional weavers in Kyoto; the replacement of the gilt metal fittings carved with mythical lions, which was created and signed in the 18th century. Time, skill, and patience all represented in the course of art conservation.

Asian Art Initiative

            A $6 million bequest from Alfred P. Gale has enabled the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) to launch the Gale Asian Art Initiative, a multi-year program dedicated to enhancing visitor’s appreciation of and engagement with Asian art. In its first year, the initiative will focus on Chinese art and includes a number of programs and an exhibition of new and commissioned work by Chinese contemporary artist Liu Dan.

            Each year the Gale Asian Art Initiative will highlight a different Asian culture accompanied by a robust roster of public programming and events.

Haring Mural in Danger

            [A report from the August 2016 issue of The Art Newspaper]

            Tenants due to be evicted from a building in the Morningside Heights area of Manhattan say they are worried about the fate of a mural that Keith Haring painted in 1983 or 84 across three floors of a stairwell. At that time the building was leased by the Catholic youth organization Grace House, which provided a home for young people. Having visited many times, Haring convinced the director, with help from the young residents, that he should decorate the walls.

            The building was in jeopardy. The church cited its financial problems and no one knew the fate of the building. The tenants who remained filed a joint lawsuit against the church, alleging the eviction to be illegal. They also claimed that the mural is “part of our identities” as well as being a valuable example of Haring’s work. Julia Gruen, executive director of the Keith Haring Foundation had said in 2007, “In terms of imagery, it’s like a lexicon of [Haring’s] vocabulary.” The line of dancing figures moving up the stairwell begins with a Radiant Baby figure and includes other recurring icons like the barking dog.

            The New York gallerist Jeffrey Deitch, who represented Haring’s estate after his death says, “The West 108th Street mural is an example of Keith’s generous character and his commitment to art as social engagement. Keith often spent more time creating public murals in children’s centers, hospitals, and playgrounds than he did in the studio.” Many of these locations have been torn down since his death in 1990, and in several cases sections of wall have been sold to help benefit charities.

            Happily, new digital technology now allows mural works to be documented so that they can be recreated in another venue.

African American Collection Expands

            In an effort to better reflect Detroit’s population, the Detroit Institute of Art’s new director Salvador Salort-Pons announced the launching of a three-year initiative of $3.7 million to expand its collection of works by African-American artists. The museum expects to hire a curator of contemporary African-American art to oversee acquisitions, exhibitions, and public programs. In addition the initiative will allow the introduction of paid internships designed to “pipeline African-Americans into museum fields where they are significantyly under-represented,” says the director.

African American Collection Expands

            In an effort to better reflect Detroit’s population, the Detroit Institute of Art’s new director Salvador Salort-Pons announced the launching of a three-year initiative of $3.7 million to expand its collection of works by African-American artists. The museum expects to hire a curator of contemporary African-American art to oversee acquisitions, exhibitions, and public programs. In addition the initiative will allow the introduction of paid internships designed to “pipeline African-Americans into museum fields where they are significantyly under-represented,” says the director.