America’s oldest artist-advocacy organization, the National Academy of Design, has decided to permanently close its museum operations. The Beaux-Arts mansion at 1083 Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side has been sold, and the institution is reinventing itself with an endowment. Run by artists for artists since 1825, the Academy is comprised of invite-only members, a whos-who list of many of the biggest names in American art. For most of the institution’s history, each member was also required to donate to the Academy’s collection, meaning that the NAD has pieces by American greats like Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Thomas Eakins. This collection made for groundbreaking shows that produced world-class art historical scholarship. But what about the living members? Previously, the academy had been aligned with both its own museum as well as a well-respected art school, but now the NAD has now cut ties with both. “The museum and school were draining all the resources," Walter Chatham told the Art Newspaper. An architect who has served as co-chair of the Board of Governors since 2014, Chatham added, "There wasn’t any money for the programs that would actually improve the academicians’ lives. Eventually we want to get back into education and exhibitions, but I don’t think we’re going to have a museum again.” The museum debate came to a head with the sale of two Hudson River School masterpieces, prompting condemnations and sanctions from national museum organizations like the Association of Art Museum Directions and the American Alliance of Museums. Brian T. Allen, an art historian writing for the National Review, said, “I was a member of both and supported the sanctions. My museum wouldn’t lend work to NAD shows. In retrospect, I think the penalties did the NAD a disservice.” Unlike the sale of the paintings, the sale of the Academy’s three Upper East Side buildings leaves them with an enduring source of income—a legally restricted $66 million endowment to put towards operations that will prioritize the current academicians and living artists as the center of the Academy’s mission. The refreshed focus will hopefully help the institution that has long grappled with the "existential" question of its inherent museum-ness. The "class" of 2018 includes artists Mel Chin, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Vik Muniz, who will join the over 400 other living members. Refocusing their efforts on the class of living artists isn't the only initiative for the "new" NAD, as the academy has also begun publication of an online journal, NAD Now, which features fresh writing focused on the art and scholarship of members both past and present. The National Academy of Design is a storied and historic institution that is emerging once again for the 21st century, and, following in the footsteps of many other renowned arts institutions making the move out of increasingly expensive Manhattan. For example, take SculptureCenter, which sold its longtime home on the Upper East Side in order to “reinvent” itself in Long Island City, Queens, and continues to thrive. These changes are difficult for a time-honored institution’s legacy. However, in the words of Allen, “I say ‘Welcome back,’ and hope my colleagues in the American art world will do the same.”
Posts tagged with "Art Museums":
Boom! Sam Jacob Studio has unveiled a punchy new home for London’s Cartoon Museum that takes design cues from comics’ bold graphic tropes and often-cheeky humor. A 3-D explosion graphic marks the entrance, while the exhibition spaces are arranged in boxes like cartoon comic strips. The two main galleries, an education room, and a gift shop (cha-ching!) are encased in a graphic wall of cheery trees, clouds, and drip marks that suggest the museum has leaped off a drawing board. Loony Tunes–esque features abound: The education room is accessed via a hidden door in a fake bookcase, and comically over- and under-sized doors channel visitors into the galleries. A red stairwell is decorated with semi-solemn portraits of famous cartoon characters in a display that’s part comic strip, part Victorian mansion. Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.
In the heart of Rotterdam’s central museum campus, a mirrored vessel designed by the hometown MVRDV is currently under construction to house the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection of approximately 151,000 artworks. Coined the “Depot,” the building will feature over 16,000 square feet of space and serve as the world’s first art storage facility that also offers access to the museum’s entire collection without the mediation of a curator. Located on the northern edge of Rotterdam’s Museumpark (realized by OMA with Yves Brunier in 1994), the building aims to be less visible from the exterior and instead offer more public access to the interior. With the intent of increasing Museumpark’s attractiveness as an international art complex, the Depot is roughly 130 feet tall and will be completely clad in mirrored panels once complete. A public route zigzags through the building, where 99 percent of the collection will be on display, among seven different climatic zones that will facilitate ideal conditions for art storage, offices, and the public. The rooftop terrace will offer a view over the city and harbor 78 planted trees, a sculpture garden, exhibition space, and a restaurant. The museum will also offer commercial storage spaces rented to private collectors, corporate collections, and other museums. If the renters so choose, these spaces may also be publicly accessible. The Depot represents a new typology that museums can learn from. The existing Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen building has been in desperate need for renovations, related mostly to its outdated electronic and climate-control systems and asbestos remediation. The motivation for the project was to replace the museum’s current storage facilities, which are too small, unsafe, and obsolete. However, even after the renovation of the museum buildings, an external storage facility was still necessary. The total investment cost of the project is approximately $96.5 million and was funded through a public-private initiative between the City of Rotterdam (which owns the majority of the collection), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, and the De Verre Bergen Foundation. The museum is continuing to fundraise among sponsors and donors; one initiative includes a scheme for "adopting" one of the mirrored panels. The building should be completed at the beginning of 2020 with an official opening in 2021. Once finished, the build must sit empty in the intervening year to allow for drying time, calibration of the climate control systems, and artwork installation.
Herzog & de Meuron beat out 22 design studios, including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Johnston Marklee, and OMA, for the chance to design a new building for the Brooks Museum of Art—Tennessee’s oldest and largest art museum—in downtown Memphis. The Swiss firm will work alongside local powerhouse archimania to bring the cultural institution into the 21st century with a new, $105 million facility. Slated to rise on top of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, the upgraded Brooks Museum will be part of an ongoing six-mile development aiming to activate the riverfront with parks, walking paths, as well as civic and recreational structures. Studio Gang is at the helm of reimagining the 30-acre industrial site and the museum will serve as its anchor. According to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, the chosen site will be a major economic stimulus for the city and signals its embrace of the Mississippi River as its greatest local asset. Herzog & de Meuron's plan for the Brooks Museum, which is expected to be unveiled early next year, will be 112,000-square-foot in size—a quarter larger than the existing facility in Overton Park—and will feature double the amount of storage and art handling space. It will also include expanded public galleries with room for its prestigious permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions. Classrooms, a theater, a dining area, and a museum store will also be integrated into the design, along with an outdoor sculpture park that’s set to feature rotating public art. In a statement, Executive Director Emily Ballew Neff said the reenvisioned Brooks Museum aims to become a new landmark for the city and she believes the architects will create a “fitting formal response” to the riverfront site and approach the project with “unrivaled sensitivity to materials and craftsmanship.” “Herzog & de Meuron is exceptional among the architectural firms that design art museums for the way it creates galleries for a whole range of art,” she said. “Several architects (at the firm) also happen to have spent formative years in and around Memphis. These team members will provide a kind of local knowledge that will surely contribute.” A strong understanding of this unique western Tennessee landscape will be key in designing the Brooks Museum’s new identity. The building will be constructed on the corner of Front Street and Monroe Street, one block from Memphis’s Main Street to the east and one block from the river to the west. Members of the mound-building Mississippi Culture and, later, the Chickasaw Nation used to occupy the bluff before the Europeans settled the area. In the 19th century, this area served as the city’s old Cotton Row. Today the area is emerging with the rest of downtown Memphis as a major educational, cultural, and business district in which the Brooks Museum is expected to not only spur new development in the urban core, but also attract visitors from all of Tennessee, Northeast Arkansas, and Northern Mississippi.
first-of-its-kind touring exhibition, Dimensionism is organized by the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College. It is on view at the Mead from March 28, 2019–July 28, 2019. The exhibition features approximately 70 artworks and is accompanied by an illustrated exhibition catalogue published by MIT Press. The exhibition is inspired by the 1936 “Dimensionist Manifesto,” which declared that artists should respond to the scientific advances happening around them. Under the leadership of Hungarian poet Charles Sirató, an international group of artists endorsed the Manifesto, which exhorted artists to use their art to explore the new physical realities and philosophical queries of their day. The Manifesto’s collection of signatures represents some of today’s best-known modern artists, including Hans Arp, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Delaunay, Sonia Delaunay, Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy-Nagy, Francis Picabia, and Sophie Taeuber-Arp. The exhibition also includes others who engaged with these ideas in their art, such as Joseph Cornell, Naum Gabo, Helen Lundeberg, Herbert Matter, Isamu Noguchi, Wolfgang Paalen, and Dorothea Tanning. Their works reflect the drive of many modern artists throughout Europe and America to discover a new vision for human existence and expression in an era that redefined fundamental realities such as time and space. By tracing a transnational flow of information and ideas, Dimensionism contextualizes modern art within the scientific revolution, and in doing so introduces new narratives on influential mid-century artists and the modern art scene more generally.
At the reopening of the renovated Norton Museum of Art earlier this month, Norman Foster revealed his two points of inspiration for the project: an existing banyan fig tree and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's Typewriter Eraser, Scale X sculpture from 1999. Both elements were crucial to the architect’s intuitive redesign and reorientation of the museum’s entrance. The new west-facing forecourt features a 43-foot-high metal canopy with a scalloped cutout that cuts around the towering tree. Within the shaded hollow the overhang creates, an embedded reflecting pool surrounds the massive sculpture. This careful approach carries through the entire project. Rather than create another statement-piece museum where the architecture steals the show, Foster + Partners opted for a contextual approach that spotlights the Norton's vast collection. Adding over 12,000 square feet to the original 1941 Art Deco building, the firm introduced a 210-seat auditorium, the museum’s first restaurant, and additional gallery spaces. Major extensions include the new 3,600-square-foot, double-height Ruth and Carl Shapiro Great Hall, featuring a unique concave skylight. The 150-foot-long, glass-walled Ira and Nicki Harris Family Gallery extends from the former south-facing entrance. This addition flanks a covered promenade and a new sculpture garden. Occupying what was originally the Norton Museum of Art’s main 20,000-square-foot parking lot, the green space is Foster’s first ever public landscape project. The sculpture garden divides into two curated "rooms." Native plant species were spread throughout to highlight the museum’s subtropical surroundings. Foster + Partners' renovation blends new and old components with a minimalistic, all white, stone facade. The firm also restored the museum’s existing galleries and six historic artist residence homes, located nearby. The redesign champions historic architectural detailing while also introducing large light-filled voids. The overall reprogramming of the space mirrors the Norton Museum of Art’s curatorial vision; some of the museum's key historical collections are dispersed between temporary shows. The museum places emphasis on exhibiting female, African-American, and living artists. The Norton Museum of Art officially reopened on February 9. This unveiling is only the first milestone in a 20-year masterplan that Foster + Partners has conceived for the museum.
Deep in the Swiss Alps, buried below the remnants of a 12th-century monastery in the town of Susch, is Switzerland’s newest private art museum. Muzeum Susch opened to the public on January 2 and is expected to bring international attention to a village where the population tops out at 200. The museum, designed by the Zurich-based Voellmy Schmidlin Architektur (founded by Chasper Schmidlin and Lukas Voellmy), is the personal project of Grażyna Kulczyk, Poland’s richest woman; she’s the founder of the museum, has fully funded its construction, and the institution will display pieces from Kulczyk’s private collection. This isn’t the first time Kulczyk has attempted to get her museum off (and under) the ground. As the Wall Street Journal noted, Kulczyk had attempted to bring a Tadao Ando–designed collection to Poznan, Poland, in 2008, and later to Warsaw. Both attempts fell through. The completed complex in Susch spans a collection of five existing buildings, most historically protected, which restricted how thoroughly their exteriors could be modified. As such, the two central buildings are connected via an underground passage that took over a year to dig through the mountainous terrain. Muzeum Susch holds over 16,000 square feet of gallery space for rotating and permanent exhibitions, as well as Instituto Susch, an academic institute that will host lectures on gender and art. Acziun Susch, also located on the campus, will instruct on modern choreography. The area’s natural rock formations have been highlighted as heavily as the existing architecture and poke through the staid gallery interiors throughout. A grotto near the museum’s entrance has been left exposed and will serve as a backdrop for future site-specific installations. Kulczyk's ambitions for the museum aren't finished, as she recently announced the purchase of a sixth building for the institution. The museum’s inaugural show, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women, has a pointed focus on the work of women artists internationally. The exhibition, curated by Kasia Redzisz, will feature work of many types, from paintings to sculpture to multidisciplinary art and will run through June 30, 2019.
A year after the Jean Nouvel–designed Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, a waterfront arts quarter with buildings from big-name architects, things aren’t entirely rosy. The Austrian steel engineering conglomerate Waagner-Biro, responsible for building the intricately latticed, double-layered dome over the museum, has reportedly declared insolvency due to their involvement in the project. Late payments and inflated costs on the approximately $90 million Louvre offshoot have forced Waagner-Biro to sell its subsidiaries in hope of remaining solvent. The 262-foot-wide dome is made up of almost 8,000 interlocking metal octagons, layered over each other in reference to the mashrabiya, a traditional Islamic sunscreen that shades while allowing air to pass through. The museum below the dome is a loose-knit collection of 23 gallery spaces that together form a layout closer to an open-air market typology than a traditional museum space. Nouvel has described the dome as “an oasis of light”—during the day, the sun filters in from above like starlight, and at night, the museum below causes the roof to glow from within. Waagner-Biro began in 1854 as a locksmith but has grown into a major player in architectural steel installation; the company constructed the spiraling roof of the Great Court in London’s British Museum and the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin. Unfortunately, after costs rose during the Louvre Abu Dhabi dome installation, Abu Dhabi refused to pay and forced Waagner-Biro to shoulder the difference. The firm’s daughter company, SBE Alpha AG, was declared insolvent on October 23 of this year and its financial woes have spread to the rest of the 1,300-employee company. Waagner-Biro has already sold its Waagner-Biro Austria Stage Systems AG subsidiary to Austrian entrepreneur Erhard Grossnigg for restructuring; the offshoot has handled stage engineering work at the Sydney Opera House and Berlin’s State Opera House in the past. While it remains to be seen if Waagner-Biro will be able to emerge from insolvency, that hasn’t been the only piece of bad news for the Louvre Abu Dhabi this week. Salvator Mundi, a portrait of Jesus allegedly painted by Leonardo da Vinci and sold for a record-breaking $450 million last November, has reportedly been feared as lost. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman purchased the painting with the intent of displaying it in the Louvre Abu Dhabi, but the September 18 unveiling date has passed without a peep from the prince. The fate of Salvator Mundi, whether it will be put on display in the new Louvre, or how it’s being cared for are now only known to the Saudi royal family.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has revealed a $70 million revamp of its Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, which hosts fine art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Thai architect Kulapat Yantrasast, founder of New York-based wHY Architecture, has been selected to update the wing’s 40,000 square feet of galleries as part of a master plan to modernize the museum ahead of its 150th birthday in 2020. The renovation, slated to begin in 2020 and finish in 2023, will reorganize and celebrate pieces that, when the Rockefeller Wing opened in 1982, were described as being from “the primitive world.” Once wHY completes the overhaul, each gallery in the wing will be flushed with natural light and use the vernacular architecture of the region represented within. From the renderings (the project has only just entered the schematic design phase and may still change), wHY has chosen to cover the ceiling of each gallery in white “ribs.” The walls, partitions, and plinths in each space will share the same stone-like color, creating an unobtrusive yet naturalistic space for viewing the art. As the Met director Max Hollein laid out at a press conference this morning, the goal of renovating the Rockefeller Wing was to better integrate the intertwined histories of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas with the rest of the Met’s collection. The Rockefeller Wing presents art from over half of the globe in a single place, and the history of the artifacts therein is deeply connected with that of Greece, Rome, and every other place typically explored in the “mainstream” art history canon. With the new galleries, said Hollein, this art was coming out of the “heart of darkness,” both literally and figuratively. Embarking on an ambitious plan to reorganize the museum’s galleries would have seemed absurd a year ago, when the Met was struggling to hit its financial goals and growth was stagnant. According to the Met’s president and chief executive Daniel H. Weiss, revenue has been up 41 percent after the museum instituted a mandatory admissions policy for non-New Yorkers in March. The Rockefeller announcement also coincides with Hollein’s 100th day on the job and the Met is hoping that the stabilization of its income and leadership will allow the institution to focus on reactivating its expansion plans and acquiring new contemporary art. Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors is handling a $22 million renovation of the museum’s British decorative arts and sculpture galleries, expected to open in 2020. A $150 million skylight replacement in the European Paintings galleries has closed off half the wing and is expected to wrap up in 2022, but will bathe works by the Dutch masters in the unparalleled light once complete. Perhaps most excitingly, David Chipperfield’s $600 million redevelopment of the Southwest Wing may be back on the table, as the museum is currently scoping out its fundraising options.
Within the last three months, two rustbelt cities have opened international art exhibitions. Cleveland, Ohio, debuted FRONT International in July, and this weekend Pittsburgh opened its 57th Carnegie International. While FRONT sends artists and art-tourists into sites throughout the city, this year’s Carnegie International keeps its art in and around its own house. The exhibition draws visitors to Andrew Carnegie’s immense, turn-of-the-century building—a complex with two museums, a concert hall, and library all under one roof—and proves that its long institutional history is a fertile ground for provocative new work. The notion of an “international” exhibition perhaps still conjures the hubris of the industrialist who founded the show in 1896 to identify the “old masters of tomorrow.” But this year’s curators, Ingrid Schaffner along with Liz Park and Ashley McNelis, aimed to use the exhibition to spark “museum joy.” The curatorial joy is certainly contagious, evident even in the team’s abolition of wall texts, which Schaffner denounces in favor of a bound book developed with Dancing Fox Press that hearkens back to a 19th-century travel guide. By saturating the building with new artwork, the 57th Carnegie International strives to construct new narratives and celebrate the art as a lived experience with architectural and artistic juxtapositions. The exhibition may be bounded by the museum walls, but the 32 artists and collectives, as well as one independent exhibition maker have taken it upon themselves to respond to Pittsburgh’s local histories and regional conditions that still have international resonance. The 57th Carnegie International is open now through March 25, 2019. Admission is free with tickets to the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History.
Snøhetta has been tapped to design a major expansion to the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. As one of the city and state’s leading arts institutions, the new Joslyn will become a 21st-century cultural destination with increased gallery space, more public programming, and room for arts education opportunities. The Oslo- and New York-based firm will create a masterplan for the museum with a new building designed to “complement and enhance” the original structures on site: the Memorial Building, built in 1931, and the Walter and Suzanne Scott Pavilion, which was designed by Sir Norman Foster and completed in 1994. Craig Dykers, principal of Snøhetta, is proud to work on a project with such a deep cultural heritage that’s rooted in its geography. “Omaha’s place in the great landscape of the American West is a wonderful inspiration to us,” he said in a statement. “Together with Joslyn’s rich collections of art spanning the globe and its dynamic relationship with the communities that sustain it create a powerful platform to begin designing the next phase of its life, for future generations.” The addition of new galleries to the Museum will allow more room for its growing collections and give existing buildings the space to display art that they previously couldn't. This will include work from the museum's historic and contemporary Indigenous collections, which will be further supported by a newly appointed curator of Native American art. The Joslyn, which is free, has seen an increase in admission over the past decade. This expansion may help bring it even more into the global stage of 21st century art institutions.
Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron has released revised renderings for its four-story addition to Berlin's Kulturforum (Culture Forum) complex. The firm's winning entry for the Museum of the 20th Century, first revealed in 2016, is intended to increase gallery space for the Mies van der Rohe–designed Neue Nationalgalerie, store artworks, and connect the different cultural institutions in the area. The design is developed in collaboration with the Neue Nationalgalerie, the Berlin State Museums, and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. The building nods to the nearby Matthew Church in both its materiality and form, with its pixelated brick patterning and a vernacular gabled roof profile. The design also references warehouses, barns, and train stations. News renderings show a building with distinct facades on each side and multiple entry points that open to different parts of the cultural complex and the city, with a central area for showcasing large-scale modernist art. The multiple-entry design also allows for events to take place in a screening theatre outside of regular museum hours. Overall, the museum demonstrates a decidedly urban ethos in fully embracing its surrounding context, from the architecture by van der Rohe and Hans Scharoun to much older structures. According to Jaques Herzog, "Our urban planning concept for the Kulturforum is a concept of density, not of emptiness. It organizes an interplay of buildings put into precise relation with each other, and it also initiates the interaction of the cultural institutions established in those buildings."