What's Happening in the Museums November 2010

1. NEW YORK, NY.- The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it would undertake a comprehensive, multi-year effort to redesign and rebuild the four-block-long outdoor plaza that fronts its landmark Fifth Avenue façade. The project will feature as one of its centerpiece elements the design and installation of all-new fountains outside the museum building.

2.  INDIANAPOLIS, IN.- The most extensive exhibition ever mounted of Thornton Dial’s painting and sculpture will premiere at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, on view from February 25, 2011, to May 15, 2011. Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial will highlight the artist’s significant contribution to the field of American art and show how Dial’s work speaks to the most pressing issues of our time—including the War in Iraq, 9/11, and social issues like racism and homelessness. The exhibition will present 70 of Dial’s large-scale paintings, drawings and found-object sculptures spanning twenty years of his artistic career—including 25 works on view for the first time.

3. LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will present a major exhibition to debut its new Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion. The Resnick Pavilion will open to the public in October 2010 with Olmec: Masterworks of Ancient Mexico. The inaugural exhibition will highlight the diversity of the museum’s encyclopedic collection and programming, as well as the flexibility of the Renzo Piano-designed pavilion. The new 45,000 square foot building—the cornerstone of Phase II of LACMA’s ongoing Transformation—will be the largest purpose-built, naturally lit museum space in the world. The opening exhibition will showcase this vast new space with monumental, twenty-ton ancient Olmec heads.

4. TORONTO.- The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), organizer of the Canadian tour of The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Warriors exhibition, announced that the out-of-country loan of Terracotta artifacts from China is unable to be extended beyond one year to Canada. As a result, the museums that planned to exhibit the artifacts during the second year of the tour, Calgary's Glenbow Museum and the Royal BC Museum will be unable to do so. The exhibition will travel as planned to Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts to a highly-anticipated opening in February 2011, as this scheduled stop is within the one-year time frame. The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army is achieving record attendance levels in Toronto, and an equivalent reaction was expected for subsequent western Canada venues.

5. MENOMONEE FALLS, WIS.- Today Kohl's Department Stores announced a more than $2.7 million donation over three years to the Milwaukee Art Museum that will continue the successful Kohl's Art Generation program launched in 2008 as well as create new programs for kids and families. Building on the $1 million contribution from Kohl's in 2008, this donation is the largest gift to an education initiative in the Museum's history. The donation comes from the Kohl's Cares(R) cause merchandise program, which sells special items, including plush toys and books, and donates 100 percent of the net profit to benefit children's health and education initiatives nationwide. One of Wisconsin's premiere destinations for art and culture, the Milwaukee Art Museum serves more than 300,000 visitors each year and is nationally recognized for its art education programming.

6. CHICAGO, IL -  The Art Institute of Chicago is suing a London engineering firm for what it calls delays and shoddy engineering in its Modern Wing addition that opened last year.  
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court, cites $10 million in repairs and upgrades to the addition. Among the problems alleged in the suit were cracks in concrete floors, condensation clouding the main vestibule glass and an air-conditioning system that couldn't maintain a safe climate for artwork.
 The suit also alleges Ove Arup & Partners caused costly delays in the construction because metal blades for the "Flying Carpet" design of the roof required changes to prevent "a noticeable whistling sound on windy days," and the bridge connecting the museum to Millennium Park also needed modifications to achieve the "sharp, knife-like effect" envisioned by award-winning architect Renzo Piano's design.
 The suit said the engineering firm failed to offer any settlement after the Art Institute submitted a list of defects and expenses.

7. CLEVELAND, OH.- Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection, a major traveling exhibition, developed by the Fenimore Art Museum, making its debut at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) in March 2010, explores Native North American art from the Eastern Woodlands to the Northwest through more than 140 masterpieces spanning 2,000 years. The exhibition provides visitors with a broad understanding and appreciation of the aesthetic accomplishments and cultural heritage of this country’s first peoples. Art of the American Indians opens at CMA on March 7, 2010, and runs through May 30 before traveling to Minneapolis and Indianapolis.

8.   BOSTON, MA. -  MFA ready to unveil soaring new $504m wing
November 12, 2010  -  For months, Tsugumi Maki Joiner has had the best office at the Museum of Fine Arts, a desk in the center of the museum’s new glassed-in courtyard, with its soaring 63-foot high ceiling. Now, it is time to move. This week, Joiner, manager of gallery planning and installation for the MFA, prepared to return to her old space, a room without windows. But Joiner did not have time to wallow. Deadlines were looming. Today, the MFA shows off its $504 million new Art of the Americas Wing to more than 100 representatives of the media as it hosts a dedication ceremony attended by Senator Scott Brown, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and other dignitaries. Tomorrow brings a $1,000-a-ticket gala put together by Bryan Rafanelli, the Boston party czar hot off Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. Sunday, the museum opens for MFA members — some 60,000 households — and then Nov. 20, it opens to the general public. That left Joiner and other staffers darting through the galleries to help with last-minute preparations.

9. ST. LOUIS, MO.- The Saint Louis Art Museum announced that Carolyn Danforth has initiated a series of donations that will bring the extraordinary collection of American Indian artworks assembled by her late husband, Donald Danforth Jr., to the Museum. In addition to Mrs. Danforth’s gift, the Danforth Foundation has pledged $2 million to name the Donald Danforth Jr. Gallery of Native American Art to house the collection. In the Saint Louis Art Museum’s 131-year history, a handful of generous patrons stand out for their transformational gifts of significant collections. “This gift transforms the Museum’s collection of Native American art,” said Museum Director Brent R. Benjamin. “The Museum is indebted to Carolyn Danforth and the entire Danforth family for their commitment to fulfilling Mr. Danforth’s legacy. This generosity is an inspiration for others in the St. Louis community and beyond.”

10.  BAGHDAD (AP).- More than 600 ancient artifacts that were smuggled out of Iraq, recovered and lost again have been found misplaced among kitchen supplies in storage at the prime minister's office, the antiquities minister said Monday. The 638 items include pieces of jewelry, bronze figurines and cylindrical seals from the world's most ancient civilizations that were looted from the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. After their recovery, the U.S. military delivered them last year to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office, where they were misplaced and forgotten about. The artifacts, packed in sealed boxes, were misplaced because of poor coordination between the Iraqi government ministries

11. HOUSTON, TX - Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria makes its U.S. debut at the MFA Houston September 19, 2010 through January 9, 2011. The exhibition has been organized by the Museum for African Art, New York, and the Fundación Marcelino Botín, in Santander, Spain, in collaboration with the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments, which has loaned all of the objects on view. ―This is the first exhibition of Ife art to reach the United States, and Houston is proud to be the venue for its debut,‖ said Dr. Peter C. Marzio, MFAH director. ―Ife artists possessed an advanced understanding of human anatomy, proportion, and metal-casting,creating artwork that is stylistically similar to European classical art, yet gorgeously original. Remarkably, the Ife people were creating these sculptures before the European Renaissance began.‖
―These sculptures were first excavated in 1910, and more were discovered in 1938 when builders laying the foundation of a house in Nigeria struck these cast-metal heads buried in the earth,said Frances Marzio, MFAH curator of the Glassell Collections and organizer of Dynasty and Divinity in Houston. ―Rarely seen outside of Nigeria, these ancient, lifelike sculptures are a revelation, enriching and expanding our vision of African art.

12. FORT WORTH, TX - Kimbell Museum - Fiery Pool, The Maya and the Mythic Sea - closes January 2, 2011 - The Maya viewed water as animate and intelligent, a living and thinking force with the power to influence events. Water was central to the structure of the universe and present at the beginning of time—oceans, rivers, springs, and rain were united, both literally and spiritually. This section features works of art that portray water in its various forms, including figures of Chahk, the god of rain and storms, a central deity in the Maya pantheonPainted ceramics and architectural fragments show water as the source of both life and fertility, and the sea as a fearsome place of the unknown. The Maya cosmos is represented by primordial beasts, such as the world crocodile and the world turtle, which symbolize Maya conceptions of the sea and the origins of their world.