What's Happening in the Museums - September 2010

1. FORT WORTH, TX.- Rarely does an exhibition offer an entirely fresh way of viewing the art of a great civilization. Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea does exactly that––by revealing and interpreting the importance of water to the ancient Maya. Shark teeth, stingray spines, sea creatures and waterfowl appear in works of stone and clay; supernatural crocodiles breathe forth rain; cosmic battles take place between mythic beasts and deities—all part of a new and vivid picture of the Maya worldview. Over 90 works, many recently excavated and never before seen in the United States, offer exciting insights into the culture of the ancient Maya, focusing on the sea as a defining feature of the spiritual realm and the inspiration for powerful visual imagery. Surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean ... More
2. CLEVELAND (AP).- The Cleveland Museum of Art has hired a new director. He's David Franklin, the deputy director of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. He replaces Deborah Gribbon, who became interim director last year when Timothy Rub left to take the top job at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Franklin is an Italian Renaissance and baroque art scholar. He has lived and worked in his native Canada and in London, Oxford and Rome. The appointment of the 49-year-old Franklin was announced Thursday night. It comes as the Cleveland museum heads into the final three years of a $350 million renovation and expansion. The museum says its collection contains more than 30,000 artworks spanning thousands of years. ... More
3. CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Museum of Art has reached a milestone in its eight-year, $350 million expansion and renovation with new galleries for its Greek, Roman and early Christian and Byzantine treasures. The museum offered a media preview of the galleries on Friday and opens them to the public on Saturday. Admission is free.
The new galleries in the museum's iconic 1916 neoclassical building hold items spanning 5,000 years. Art history and humanities chair Gerald Guest at John Carroll University says the project will provide what he calls "an extraordinary canvas" to show off one of America's great art collections.

4. LOS ANGELES (AP).- Billionaire Eli Broad said Monday he had chosen an expanding downtown cultural district for a new museum to showcase his collection of art that includes works by Salvador Dali and Joan Miro. The developer-turned-philanthropist made his announcement minutes after a committee of state and local officials voted to let him lease county-owned land along Grand Avenue for the structure that could cost as much as $100 million. The 35,000 square feet of gallery space will feature paintings, sculptures and photos from Broad's 2,000-piece collection, which includes works not currently on permanent public display. "There's lots of art to go around," Broad said after the vote by the Grand Avenue Authority. "We want to show our art to the widest possible audience." The Broad Art Foundation will also coordinate loans of artwork to other museums from the planned venue totaling 120,000 square feet. Under the deal for the land, the foundation will pay $7.7 million over the cou ... More

5. BENTONVILLE, ARK.- Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has acquired two stellar examples of Pop art by the artists who defined and shaped the movement. Dolly Parton (1985), painted late in Andy Warhol’s career, expressed his life-long fascination with celebrity and glamour in a dazzling homage to the Queen of Country Music. In Standing Explosion (Red) (1966) Roy Lichtenstein translated one of his signature comic book motifs into a burst of three-dimensional form. Both works capture the dazzling energy of American consumer culture while employing mechanical processes and materials, a hallmark of the Pop art movement. With her big hair, purple eye shadow and vivid red lips, Dolly Parton embodies the glamour that makes her a worthy successor to the pantheon of iconic superstars immortalized by Warhol in the 1960s. Characteristic of his celebrity ... More

6. DALLAS, TX.- The Dallas Museum of Art will present a significant look at African visual culture through African Masks: The Art of Disguise, a new exhibition of approximately seventy works of art exploring the highly developed and enduring art of the African mask and revealing their timeless beauty, function, and meaning. Centered on the DMA’s distinguished collection of African art, acclaimed as one of the top five of its kind in the United States and which has set precedents since its inception 40 years ago, African Masks: The Art of Disguise features several works of art from the Museum’s collection that will be displayed for the first time. Significant works from other museum and private collections are also included in the exhibition. African masks serve as supports for the spirit of deities, ancestors and culture heroes, which may be personified as human or animal, or a composite. Masked performances, he ... More
7. KANSAS CITY, MO.- Julián Zugazagoitia begins his post Wednesday, Sept. 1, as the fifth Director & CEO of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. An international scholar, museum director and consultant, he has served for the past seven years as the Director/CEO of El Museo del Barrio in New York. Already Zugazagoitia has become known among Board of Trustees members and the community as a personable leader who is enthusiastic about the arts. He has pledged to use his first weeks listening and learning about the Museum’s distinguished, encyclopedic collection and getting to know staff, volunteers and donors. During his first year, Zugazagoitia will explore the most remarkable treasures from the Museum’s 33,500 works of art in a monthly series of Thursday-evening conversations called Art Tasting with Julián. Beginning Oct. 21, Zugazagoitia and a curator will bring to life the finest works of each collection in the series. ... More

8. HOUSTON, TX - Many of us, when we hear the phrase "African art," think of the kind of masks and sculpture that inspired modern artists such as Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst and Amedeo Modigliani. Designed to represent spiritual characteristics rather than to portray an individual, they feature heavily stylized features and abstract shapes.
Recent reinstallations of Houston's two leading African art galleries — the Menil Collection's in 2008 and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's this summer — have given visitors ample opportunities to study and appreciate these incredible objects. But both galleries omit a chapter of African art history most people outside of Nigeria have no idea occurred because of laws keeping cultural property in the country.
A landmark traveling exhibition that makes its U.S. premiere Sunday at the MFAH after three European stops is about to change that. More than 100 magnificent copper, terra-cotta and stone sculptures from the ancient West African city-state of Ife (pronounced ee-fay), now a city in southwest Nigeria, display a level of sophistication and realism we normally associate with the European Renaissance.
But Ife sculptors mastered human anatomy, proportion and metal casting significantly earlier. Most of the work in Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria was created between the ninth and 15th centuries. More (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ent/7204376.html)

9. LONDON, Unted Kingdon - Sainsbury family donates £25m to British Museum
The British Museum is located in Bloomsbury, London Two charitable trusts established by the Sainsbury family have donated £25m to the British Museum in what is thought to be one of the biggest gifts to the arts for two decades. The Linbury Trust, established by Conservative peer Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover in the 1970s, will pay £12.5m to the museum over the next three years.
A further £12.5 million will come from the Monument Trust established by Lord Sainsbury's late brother Simon. The money will go towards a major redevelopment of the London museum's facilities, helping fund a new World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre. A spokeswoman for the museum described the donations as "incredibly generous". The gift was a vital part of a project which would "benefit future generations". "This is an incredibly important project for the British Museum and has been planned for a long time," the spokeswoman added.

10. NEW ORLEANS, LA - New Orleans Museum of Art Names Susan M. Taylor New Museum Director E. John Bullard will retire as Museum Director after 37 years at NOMA
NEW ORLEANS - The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) announces the appointment of Susan M. Taylor as Director Designate. She will officially become the Museum's sixth director on September 1, 2010. Taylor will succeed E. John Bullard, who will retire as one of America's longest-serving museum directors. Bullard will remain on staff as Director Emeritus to aid Taylor in the transition and will continue to work on NOMA's centennial celebrations throughout 2011. "As NOMA commemorates a century of art, I am thrilled that Susan Taylor has been selected to lead the Museum into its next chapter of service and success," Bullard said. "I have known her for a number of years and know that she is an outstanding choice to lead our institution." A museum director for over 20 years, Taylor most recently directed Princeton University Art Museum, where she is well-known for instituting wide-ranging innovations in collections development, planning, programming and outreach. She is also deeply involved in the ongoing debate about collection ownership and cultural property issues, having successfully resolved several ownership claims for works of art in Princeton's collection. "I am delighted to be joining a museum of the caliber of NOMA," Taylor said. "To follow John's legacy and write the next chapter of the Museum's history is a remarkable opportunity." Taylor is the former director of the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College. During her twelve-year tenure at Wellesley, she oversaw the construction of an award-winning museum facility designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. She holds art history degrees from Vassar College and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Bullard's retirement from NOMA has been planned for nearly a year. In September 2009, the Museum Board formed a search committee and in October enlisted the services of Laurie Nash of Russell Reynolds Associates. Taylor was selected from a large field of applicants. "Susan Taylor was selected from a field of strong candidates thanks to Laurie Nash of Russell Reynolds Associates," said Donna Rosen, trustee and member of NOMA's Search Committee. "I spoke to many museum directors around the country about Susan. Words that came up most often while describing her were 'imaginative, encyclopedic knowledge of the history of art, high standards, seizes opportunities, visionary, intelligent and of our time.' In fact, through the search process, all of these accolades were revealed." "NOMA is a true jewel in New Orleans' cultural crown and building on the great job John Bullard has done is a daunting task," said Stephen Hansel, president of NOMA's Board of Directors and Chairman of the Search Committee. "Susan Taylor was our Search Committee's overwhelming first choice because of her broad experience, charm, contacts and managerial expertise. We are confident that she will lead NOMA to even greater heights."
11. WASHINGTON, DC.- The Phillips Collection reopens Saturday, September 4 after closing due to a renovation-related fire on the roof of the Phillips House. The Phillips House will remain closed for repairs until further notice. All other galleries will open, including those where special exhibitions Pousette-Dart: Predominantly White Paintings and Robert Ryman: Variations and Improvisations are on view through September 12, 2010. Regular museum admission is waived for the month of September; visitor contributions by donation are gladly accepted. Interruptions to programming schedule may occur. Visitors should check for updates at www.phillipscollection.org. The Phillips Collection has received an outpouring of support from friends and colleagues in the city of Washington, D.C. and across the nation since the fire. Director Dorothy Kosinski says, “All of us at the Phillips are tremendously grateful for the countless ... More