Yays and Grrs: Museum News, Briefly

via the NYT

Yay! The Met is having a great year–  awesome Alexander McQueen Exhibition, successful launch of their new website and now the grand re-opening of their Islamic Art wing. Watch a 3-minute movie about it.
Read the NYT review!

Rather than presenting Islamic art as the product of a religiously driven monoculture encompassing centuries and continents, the Met is now — far more realistically — approaching it as a varied, changing, largely secular phenomenon, regionally rooted but absorptively cosmopolitan, affected by the intricacies and confusions of history, including the history that the art itself helped to create.

Grr. The Brooklyn Museum is following the MoMA/Met precedent and raising its suggested donation price from $10 to $12. At least admission is only suggested. But still. NYT quotes Arnold L. Lehman, the Brooklyn Museum’s director, as saying “We wanted to do this as modestly and cautiously as we could.” Read more here.

Yay!Carsten Höller: Experience” opened this week at the New Museum. A SLIDE!!! A GIANT POOL!! Read the NYT review here.

Grr. Gothamist reports that the City’s Health Department has forbidden visitors to “Carsten Höller: Experience” from getting naked and swimming in the pool as intended. AND they’re now saying that the slide doesn’t meet safety requirements. Grownups suck.

But Yay! for the Health Department is doing it’s job.


Government $ for 9/11 Memorial/Museum

Mayor Michael Bloomberg guides U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii on a tour of the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site. (Photo courtesy of the Office of U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye) via 9/11 Museum

Last week, Senator Daniel Inouye with co-sponsors Charles Schumer, and Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a bill into cogress that would annually provide millions of dollars to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Why am I not surprised?

From the NYT:

Mr. Daniels [chief executive of the 9/11 Memorial/Museum] hailed the idea as “a new model” of partnership between the federal government and charitable foundations that operate sites of national significance. “That’s one of the reasons we’re only asking for an amount in the range of one-third of annual budgets.”

The foundation estimates that it will cost as much as $60 million a year to maintain the memorial and run the museum. Under the proposal, the foundation’s board would be responsible for the rest of that amount, either through private donations or admission fees collected from visitors to the museum. Mr. Daniels said the museum would still have to sell tickets or request donations from visitors to cover part of the costs.

Holding down the cost of entry to the museum was the primary goal of Mr. Schumer and Ms. Gillibrand in pushing for the financing, a spokesman for Mr. Schumer said. The annual appropriation from Congress would “certainly reduce the amount that we otherwise would have had to charge,” Mr. Daniels said.

Kerfuffle over 9/11 Museum Admission fees continues


photo via Archpaper

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.

I also don’t think we’ll actually have to pay the $20 admission fee.

Latest 9/11 Museum Freak-out: $20 admission fee!?!

9/11 Memorial and Museum

That’s right, folks, if the 9/11 Museum and Memorial doesn’t get some more funding fast, they’ll be forced to charge us red-blooded Americans (and foreign visitors) a $20 admission fee.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Joe Daniels, the president and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, told City Council members at a hearing that once the museum opens in September 2012, it must generate enough income to maintain itself and the memorial. The foundation is searching for other ways to finance the upkeep of the memorial, but Daniels said Thursday that if none can be found visitors would be asked to pay entrance fees comparable to ticket prices at other major museums in New York City, which he said charge about $20.

People are already freaking out! From UPI.com:

“I represent the third-poorest district in the city, and I can tell you most of my constituents won’t be able to afford $20 or $25,” Bronx City Councilman Fernando Cabrera said at a hearing Thursday, the New York Daily News reported.

Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board 1, which represents the lower Manhattan area, responded: “This is not the Met and it’s not an art museum. This is where we were attacked and we don’t want to make it cost-prohibitive.”

Umm…. I call bullshit. It seems pretty evident to me that the $20 admission fee has been announced only to incite opposition and motivate more federal/state/city funding. I tend to agree with Ms. Menin that a $20 mandatory fee is clearly absurd for a site so freighted with national identity and emotion (Although why she thinks it is ok to charge more for an art museum is beyond me. Is art not as necessary to national well-being?).

The public will likely hold the government accountable for the crazy fee and the government will shell out the necessary monies until the museum is either more affordable (say $10 or less), free, or (and this is more likely) has a suggested donation.

Seriously, people, the freak out has a purpose and it too shall pass.