artdaily reports that the Design Museum is getting a new £80 million home!
I want to go to there.
Mark your calendars!!
The Met’s four-year $100 million dollar renovation of their American Wing is about to reach completion. Many of those glorious paintings mounted on dreary pegboard in visible storage have been reinstalled in the new gallery, opening on January 16th.
Carol Vogel in the NYT reports:
Everything is now on one floor, and Mr. Heckscher [chairman of the American Wing], his curatorial team and the New York architects Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates gutted and reconfigured the space, adding 3,300 square feet and creating 26 galleries dedicated primarily to paintings and sculpture. The design is modern but not sterile, with either cove or vaulted ceilings and some skylighted spaces. Inspired by 19th-century Beaux-Arts proportions, the walls have simplified Classical cornices and dados, creating a sense of the grand, domestic proportions that were the original backdrop for many of these canvases decades ago.
The new galleries are organized both chronologically and thematically in a way that, as Mr. Heckscher explained it, “tells the story of American art and in the process American history.”
Can hardly wait to visit the Sargents in their new home!
If you’re interested in The Met’s many renovations, you should take the time to visit the Museum of the City of New York’s exhibition on the work of architect Kevin Roche (through Feb 5). He is not only a Pritzer Prize winner, but one of my personal favorites. Roche’s Ford Foundation Building is in my top 5 list of 20th century buildings.
But Roche is also responsible for three decades of expansion and renovation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. KRJD designed every expansion from the glass-fronted court for the Temple of Dendur to the controversial Robert Lehman wing. The MCNY exhibition has some fascinating diagrams of The Met’s various expansions and even if you think it’s become an unwieldy franken-seum (that’s a portmanteau of Frankestein and museum) seeing the building’s development is worth a visit.
Even after selling its beautiful Williams-Tsien building to MoMA for $31.2 million, the American Folk Art Museum is still in financial peril. Trustees are considering whether the organization can reasonably pay its staff and cover the cost of housing, conserving, and insuring one of the world’s finest collections of American Folk Art. According to the NYT, one option is to give the collection over the The Smithsonian and Brooklyn Museum, an act that would require approval of the State attorney General and Board of Education. AFAM representatives have been in communications with The Smithsonian for several months.
From the NYT:
The folk art museum’s situation is a stark warning of what can happen when a museum overreaches in constructing a new home. Founded in 1961, the museum survived some early near-death experiences. When it decided to build a permanent home, it engaged high-profile architects and borrowed the $32 million by issuing bonds through New York City’s Trust for Cultural Resources, a public benefit corporation that helps major cultural institutions borrow money for capital projects.
Some critics have attributed the museum’s troubles to its architecture, saying that it was unwelcoming and did not display the art and artifacts attractively. To be sure, the museum never drew the crowds it had projected in estimates made during the planning process, or received enough contributions to support its interest payments. It was the first institution that borrowed through the trust to default on its debt.
Addendum: ARTINFO just published a piece on this very issue! Check out Can the Folk Art Museum Be Saved? A Look at Three Endgame Scenarios.
Two years ago, when architect Jean Nouvel unveiled his plans for another MoMA-sponsored commercial tower, the City Planning Commission sent him back to the drawing board. Their request: something… um… shorter? The Empire State Building must not have to compete with such arty riffraff for primacy of the skyline. Obvi.
Nouvel presented adjusted plans last week and the CPC seems to be cool with it. He did not, however, release images of the new structure, forcing the civically-minded New York Observer to ferret them out with a public information request. Slideshow!
MoMA Tower is 200 feet shorter than originally planned and has lost some of the lanky-ness of the initial drawings. Views of the 53rd Street side still have the “Folk Art Museum Notch” where Nouvel designed around the 4-story metal-clad Williams and Tsien Building before the MoMA acquired it. I would be a little surprised if they did not tear it down but maybe MoMA/Nouvel has more heart than I give them credit for.
Only time will tell.
I was stunned to see this picture of the Brooklyn Museum before there was an Eastern parkway. I used to live in this neighborhood and enjoyed walking through the busy streets and up Washington Avenue until the Museum appeared– like walking into clearing in the forest only to find a bear!
My brain barely computes the vast expanse of ground + Brooklyn Museum in the above photograph. Thanks Brooklyn Museum Blog! You’re the best.
See the first installment of Museums in the Wilderness.
The New York Post calls the proposed $20 admission fee “grotesque” and criticizes Mayor Bloomberg for not balking at the price during his weekly radio show, concluding:
“All of this could have been avoided had a more modest — dare we say more appropriate — project been undertaken to begin with.”
The piece unfairly(?) compares the $8 million price tag of the Vietnam War Memorial with the estimated $1 billion spent constructing the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. First off, let me just say that I think the Vietnam Memorial is one of the most powerful and moving edifices designed for the commemoration of life and death and it beautifully captures a significant era in our nation’s history. But comparing a 250 foot stone wall along the National Mall with a 16 acre plaza/museum/commercial and cultural center in the center of downtown Manhattan on the site of a major unplanned demolition and mass grave is a little ridiculous. Yes, $1 billion is a lot of money. Yes, a simpler design might potentially hold more gravitas. But do I think a simpler design would have cost that much less? No.
The Crystal Bridges Museum, slated for completion in September, will house Wal-Mart Heiress Alice Walton‘s growing collection of American Art. Designed by Moshe Safdie, who is perhaps best known for Habitat ’67, the museum will feature galleries spanning a man-built lake fed by the nearby Crystal Spring. So far, it looks pretty cool.
But what of the collection itself? Carol Vogel recently met with the notoriously private Walton for The New York Times and writes:
Ms. Walton, who has been an art collector most of her life, turned to buying art specifically for the museum in 2005, resulting in a years-long spending spree that has made her a recognized force in the art market. She has been one of those mysterious anonymous buyers at auctions and at galleries who often pay top dollar and has spent many tens of millions of dollars on works like Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington from 1797 ($8.1 million), Asher B. Durand’s “Kindred Spirits” from 1849 ($35 million) and Norman Rockwell’s 1943 “Rosie the Riveter” ($4.9 million).
But fave culture blogger Lee Rosenbaum had a delightfully snarky (yet well-informed) response to Vogel’s article:
Unless Vogel managed to get a good look at the full scope of the collection (trust me, I asked for that when I was there!), she has no way of knowing whether Walton has managed to achieve her improbable goal of swiftly assembling a world-class collection in a mere five to six years. (The Metropolitan Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Art Institute of Chicago, to name three of the great American art collections, had more than a century’s head start.)
As Vogel noted (and as I was also told by the museum’s curators), it wasn’t until 2005 that Alice began collecting with the museum in mind. Her holdings before that were, for the most part, of less importance, as I was informed during my visit.
That recent conversion to serious collecting is part of what makes the first paragraph of Vogel’s article so eyebrow-raising: The other great museum founders whom she placed in the same league with Walton had put the horse before the cart: They were already voracious acquirers of great things before they envisioned creating a facility to institutionalize their collecting achievements and share them with the public.
Crystal Bridges will rise or fall on its collection. No amount of grandiose architecture and daring feats of engineering (for both the museum facility and the landscape) can trump the as-yet-unknown depth, breadth and quality of the collection.
Can hardly wait for the September reviews! Museummonger would go to the opening herself if only Arkansas wasn’t so far away and our travel budget wasn’t non-existent. le sigh
In fact, the Foundation announced this week that they will be selling $150 million worth of bonds to finance and construct the infant institution.
Ken Naehu, a portfolio manager at Bel Air Investment Advisors in Los Angeles, said he would expect the deal to get a great reception from the market. He said the Broad bonds appear similar to the highly rated J. Paul Getty Trust bonds that are backed by an endowment and at times trade like pre-refunded bonds or better.
“In this type of marketplace where a lot of investors are putting yield aside for safety or security, those are the types of bonds that are sought after,” according to Naehu.
The bonds, rated Aa1 by Moody’s Investors Service, will be sold through the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank.
Eli and Edythe Broad have pledged $2 billion to the project, which will house their collection of around 2,000 post-war and contemporary works. The building, designed by renowned architects Diller Scofidio & Renfro, seems to uphold Broad’s reputation for lacking architectural taste. Even former NYT architecture critic NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF didn’t care for the honey-combed building.
The Broad bonds might be a good investment but will they finance a good building? Only time will tell.
It never ceases to amaze me that such an old, established institution can continue to inspire wonder after so many years.
It was on this day in 1897 that the Brooklyn Museum‘s Beaux Arts building opened on Eastern Parkway.
From the Brooklyn Eagle:
In 1891, the city of Brooklyn made plans to build a large museum near Prospect Park that would house nearly all departments of the newly incorporated Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. The architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White was victorious in a competition held to design a master plan, and the West Wing of the Museum was opened in 1897. A year later Brooklyn was incorporated into New York City, and the independent spirit that fueled the mammoth project was diminished. The central portion of the facade was added in 1905, and in 1907 the East Wing and the Grand Staircase were completed. The original building campaign would come to a halt in 1927 with only one-fourth of McKim, Mead & White’s original conception realized.
In 2004, the museum unveiled a new, modern, glass entryway and public plaza which has proven a popular public space.
Back in my Brooklyn days, I lived within walking distance of the museum and oft admired it as I moseyed over to Prospect Park. You gotta love McKim, Mead, & White.