by Alasdair Reynolds | Creativechoices
What is it like to work in a museum, planning the programme of activities, talks and educational events? Julia Kirby, Learning Manager for Birmingham Museums Trust, shared four pieces of advice for getting into heritage education.
Getting into heritage education
Julia started out working part-time as a temporary ‘front of house enabler’ at the Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry.
“I had no museum experience. I just saw a job I liked the look of and applied for it!
“Over time I progressed through the organisation, which is now called the Birmingham Museums Trust.”
Birmingham Museums is now the largest museums trust in the country, consisting of a range of sites, including the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Thinktank Science Museum.
Working as a Learning Manager
A Learning Manager, otherwise known as an Education Manager, works within a museum, gallery, or heritage site, to open up their collections as a resource for learning.
They need to see the potential of their collections to inspire and teach others, and they should deliver programmes designed to encourage participation and interest.
This often includes putting together workshops, talks or classes. These can be aimed at regular visitors to the collections, and at those who might not normally engage with the museum or gallery, such as young people on a school trip.
The role may involve liaising with schools and colleges to promote the use of the gallery’s collections and resources in a learning environment.
“Learning Managers also have an active part in marketing activity. I always have to make sure that my events programmes align with the museum’s overall development strategy and budgets.”
Delivering an activity programme
Julia leads the team responsible for schools engagement programmes across eight of the Trust’s sites. She also manages all of the public programmes at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and a team of education staff.
“A typical day might start with a management update with one of my formal learning team – we talk about how school bookings are going at their site, about new sessions they are devising, resources they would like to buy, or teacher inset days they are organising.
“I might then have a planning meeting with one of the informal learning team, looking at our programmes for a forthcoming exhibition or school holiday. Or I might attend an exhibitions committee meeting or a cross-site learning meeting.
“I spend time communicating with potential partners, setting up future projects. We are always looking ahead to next month, next year – but at the same time delivering programmes for this weekend and next week.
“Events like debates or evening talks are usually the area I organise most, with my team dealing more with the family programmes.
“I have to allow time to monitor budgets, making sure we are spending but not overspending! This can take up a lot of my time.”
Challenges for the heritage sector
“More generally, looking after the money is one of the biggest challenges – how can we secure the funding we need when there is less money to go round?
“As organisations, we need to be really aware of what our funders want from us.
“I feel that it’s all about partnerships now – we’ve got to look to what other arts organisations in the area are doing, and see how we can work with them to the best advantage for us both.”
4 tips for getting into heritage education
1) Do your research
Interviewers will be looking for evidence of knowledge. What programmes have worked well in the past? What kind of audiences they are seeking to attract?
“I usually need new staff to hit the ground running, because there will be a lot of immediate challenges to take on.”
2) Experience is crucial
“To anyone looking to work in the sector, I would say get as much experience as you can through internships, volunteering, or shadowing.
“It doesn’t matter how qualified someone is if it’s clear they don’t have a lot of experience.”
3) Learn from everything you do
If you want to design resources to educate others, you should be able to demonstrate a clear idea of how your own knowledge is affected by the things you see and do.
“Although I have attended lots of short courses relating to management skills during my career, I’ve not needed specific training, such as heritage or museums qualifications.
“My learning has been through my work, day to day.”
4) Be flexible
Many people who want to work in the heritage sector don’t have a specific job role in mind when they start out.
“Be prepared to move around, and be flexible with your job choices. You’ll only learn from new experiences.”
by Kerry Law | The Guardian
The Museum of London’s Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men exhibition has benefitted greatly from collaborating with other museums. Photograph: Tony Kyriacou / Rex Features
Who could have guessed that a set of wax hands, displaying all kinds of disease (scabies, smallpox, skin tuberculosis) could make a museum professional feel all warm and fuzzy?
The disembodied hands are the work of 19th century wax modeller extraordinaire Joseph Towne, currently sitting in the Museum of London as part of its Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men exhibition, which tells the gory story of the capital’s body-snatching trade.
Most of the time, regular members of the public would not be able to see these wax hands and strikingly accurate woodpulp skeleton created by Towne also on show. They usually live in the Gordon Museum of Pathology at Kings College London, a fascinating collection of rare and unique medical artefacts that are, in the main, only open to medical and dental students and professionals, or by prior appointment.
The Gordon Museum’s loan of these objects means so many more in the wider public have the opportunity to see them up close. The thought of lending a precious object to another institution may make some custodians a little nervous, or at least exasperated by all the paperwork. But the process need not be fraught or difficult – particularly when the outcomes can be so beneficial.
Creating the Dissection exhibition required sourcing a number of objects from outside the museum’s own collections. To illustrate the shadowy relationship between 19th century surgeons and resurrection men, the exhibition needed more content – anatomical models and drawings, documents and artefacts – to add to the museum’s own collection of human and animal skeletal remains, unearthed at a burial ground at the Royal London Hospital in 2006.
Exhibition curator Jelena Bekvalac, who worked with a number of organisations to research and source suitable artefacts, found the process of acquiring loans an extremely positive one. “So many fellow institutions, archivists, curators, authors and private collectors have helped us draw together an extraordinary collection of objects and information that compliment and relate so strikingly to the archaeological discoveries and analysis,” she says.
“This has enabled a rare insight to a functioning early 19th century hospital: the bodies used of unclaimed patients for teaching both before and after the 1832 Anatomy Act; as well as linking to London’s bodysnatching trade – it is a wonderful marriage of archaeology and documentary sources. Without their help we would not have been able to shine a light on this fascinating and critical period in the city’s history.”
The addition of objects from the Gordon Museum has also helped broaden the audience for the exhibition – medical tutors are using the show as a teaching aide and encouraging students to visit as part of their anatomy modules. Students from St George’s Hospital Medical School, researchers visiting the Centre for Human Bioarchaeology, and biomedical students from Queen Mary University of London have all come through our doors.
It’s a nice example of how partnerships have fostered a sense of partial ‘ownership’ of the exhibition with lenders and contributors, such as Phillip Adds of St George’s and Dr Steve Le Comber of Queen Mary, who both gave their time to appear in an exhibition film. These are contributors who enthusiastically spread the word and encourage other interest groups to visit.
It’s not just the smaller institutions who are pleased to be displaying their rarely seen objects. The Science Museum is the permanent custodian of the vast majority of the Henry Wellcome collection, estimated to consist of between one and two million objects – clearly far more than it’s possible to display to the public in one go! The objects that don’t sit on the upper floors of the Science Museum live away from public view in a storage house in West London.
Selina Hurley, the Science Museum’s assistant curator of medicine, invited Jenela to look through the objects in Blythe House: “Looking around the storage rooms, I was like a kid in a sweet shop!” she says. From Blythe came some of the more arresting objects for the exhibition: a fragment of tattooed skin from murderers Bishop and Williams, a set of dissecting hooks, and a specimen jar containing a piece of infamous murderer William Burke’s brain, to name a few. This is a collection of objects that must be seen ‘in the flesh’.
In the spirit of sharing within the museum community, smaller institutions and archives who loaned objects for Dissection gained an added bonus in receiving help with specialised conservation work not normally available to them. Jelena explains that “the iron coffin from St Bride’s Church was in poor condition, but the church didn’t have the means or access to the right expertise to conserve it. By loaning it to us for the exhibition we were able to show our thanks in a tangible way. When the coffin is returned to the church, it will be conserved to the highest standards.”
Similarly, drawings on loan from The Royal London Hospital Archives & Museum and University College London’s Anatomy Lab have benefited from the our conservation treatment and will be returning to their original homes reframed and restored.
One of the most heartening outcomes of the exhibition production process was the level of trust and generosity between organisations. The Royal London archivist Jonathan Evans gave considerable time in sharing his expertise; assistant curator Kirsty Chilton shared her pre-published research on resurrection men; the Royal College of Surgeons, the Hunterian Museum and the Royal Academy were all willing to help (the latter lending the remarkable cast of James Legg, which greets visitors to the exhibition). The exhibition’s rich audio-visual elements were enhanced with the valuable assistance of institutions such as Stanford University and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.
The Museum of London has worked with several of these institutions in the past (its Galleries of Modern London include objects from the Gordon Museum; the Science Museum has arranged various loans back and forth; and the Royal London Hospital lent objects for the Jack the Ripper exhibition) and the Dissection experience was an opportunity to strengthen those existing relationships. But the museum was also delighted to forge some new partnerships – ones that garnered a similar level of trust. Is this a happy symptom of working in a sector with a common goal? If so, how lucky we are.
by Carol Vogel | Source: The New York Times
Two weeks after the Metropolitan Museum of Art said it was considering staying open seven days a week, the Museum of Modern Art announced that starting in May it would be open every day, including Tuesday, the one day it has traditionally been closed.
The main reason is growing attendance, said Glenn D. Lowry, MoMA’s director, in a telephone interview. The number of visitors has nearly doubled, to nearly 3 million annually from around 1.5 million, in the 8 years since MoMA reopened after its expansion and renovation in 2004. “Our galleries are pretty close to being maxed out,” Mr. Lowry said.
The museum was open every day since its founding in 1929, until 1975, when it closed one day a week (originally Wednesdays) to reduce operating expenses.
National museums in the United States, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, are open every day, as are major London institutions, including the National Gallery, the Tate Modern, the Tate Britain and the Wallace Collection.
“The question has been, ‘How do they do it?’ ” Mr. Lowry said, adding, “The larger question for us has been how to best serve the needs of the public.” After analyzing the costs and extra labor required to be open an additional day, the museum determined that it was doable.
Mr. Lowry said that 3 years ago he started discussing with his staff the idea of staying open longer. One idea considered was extending the hours on the days the museum was already open, rather than opening on Tuesdays.
But “it was always a myth that everyone really wanted late hours,” Mr. Lowry said. “We tried being open later on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays,” he added, but the one really popular day turned out to be on Friday, when admission is free from 4 pm until closing at 8.
MoMA also began testing the results of staying open every day during peak tourist season, including around holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Day and Easter, and during summer. During the past two summers MoMA has stayed open every day.
“Each summer was more successful than the last,” Mr. Lowry said. Through June, July and August 2011, a total of about 45,000 visitors came on Tuesdays, a figure that grew to nearly 48,000 this year. This summer the museum has stayed open on Tuesday through this week.
Staying open every day will require increasing staff, but will benefit both the museum and the public, Mr. Lowry said. The new schedule cannot begin until May, he added, because the museum already has commitments before then and needs time to add employees.
If the Met also decides to stay open every day, something it is expected to announce soon, how will that affect MoMA? “The Met and MoMA are mutually reinforcing,” Mr. Lowry said. “Having the Met open on Mondays will only be good for us.”
by Charlotte Burns and Riah Pryor | Source: The Art Newspaper
This month, Gagosian Gallery announced plans to open a temporary exhibition space in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Next month, it inaugurates a Jean Nouvel-designed space at Le Bourget, the airport for private jets near Paris. These will be the 12th and 13th galleries of an empire that crosses four continents, in what is an unprecedented business model. It is an astounding development for a company that began selling posters from a patio in Los Angeles in 1975. “We have opened galleries around the world because it better serves our artists,” says Larry Gagosian, the founder of the gallery.
“Clearly the art market has become much more global in the past few years,” Gagosian says. “We see evidence of this in the expansion of museums and art fairs internationally. There is no reason why galleries such as ours can’t benefit from this trend.”
Gagosian’s permanent gallery spaces total more than 14,200 sq. m spread across 8 cities: Los Angeles, New York, London, Rome, Athens, Paris, Geneva and Hong Kong (excluding its previous temporary space in Moscow, and now Rio). This is more than the entire 13,500 sq. m exhibition space of Tate Modern, including its new extension and the Tanks. The sheer scale of the Gagosian enterprise suggests that, despite reports that the traditional gallery model is in decline, the art trade still relies on bricks and mortar, and that clients still like the personal touch.
How much is the real estate costing the business? The gallery owns its property on New York’s West 24th Street, for which it paid a reported $5.75m in 1999. Property experts estimate that it could now be worth around $65m. On the other hand, the total rental cost of the other 11 spaces Gagosian occupies could be at least $11.4m a year, although calculations are based on media research and the opinions of a range of international property agents, and do not take into account Larry Gagosian’s negotiating skills (our estimates are “between 30% and 50% too high”, he says).
The economist Don Thompson, author of The $12m Stuffed Shark, estimates that Gagosian employs more than 150 staff worldwide and that the gallery makes annual sales of around $1.1bn, or $20m a week. So in one rough estimate, other overheads and commissions notwithstanding, Gagosian Gallery earns in a week almost double its annual property costs.
In Rio de Janeiro, the gallery is taking over a warehouse, where it will mount a sculpture show to coincide with ArtRio. The proliferation of art fairs has been a major factor in the gallery’s expansion; there were only three important fairs in 1970, 68 in 2005 and 189 in 2011. “A number of galleries are now getting 60% to 70% of their annual sales through art fairs, and that requires size and scale: you need more people, more artists, more money,” Thompson says.
Gagosian lists 108 artists on its website and directly represents 77 artists and estates. Larry Gagosian has a reputation for aggressively poaching artists from rivals rather than incubating young talent. However, “it is usually the artist’s initiative that instigates a move to a new gallery”, Gagosian says. “He’s the person who’s forcing the changes in the art world,” says the art adviser Lisa Schiff. “He has been as influential as the internet in the globalisation of the art world.”
The costs of running the empire could lead to a highly pressurised sales environment, Schiff says, questioning the impact on art production. But Gagosian says: “I can’t imagine that any serious gallery would demand that artists produce more work to cover the gallery’s overhead[s]. We certainly do not. The gallery’s profitability has more than kept pace with our expansion.”
There have been four major phases in the growth of Gagosian Gallery (to enlarge the photo click here):
North America: the first proper gallery opened in 1981 in Los Angeles, mainly selling works by East Coast artists such as Richard Serra and Eric Fischl to West Coast collectors. A New York outpost opened four years later - Gagosian was one of the first dealers in Chelsea, although he left the area for SoHo in 1988. He opened an uptown gallery in Sotheby’s former Madison Avenue space the following year, and bought the West 24th Street property in 1999.
London: a major contemporary art centre from the late 1990s, thanks to the YBA phenomenon and the opening of Tate Modern in 2000. That year, Gagosian opened a small space on Heddon Street. This was replaced by the 14,000 sq. ft Britannia Street space in 2004 (when he also opened a third space in Manhattan). Gagosian consolidated his London presence in 2005 with a small gallery in Mayfair.
Europe: Gagosian opened a string of smaller spaces in niche European markets between 2007 and 2010. The plan appears to have been to dominate these local markets through proximity to major collectors, to cement relationships with valuable artists and to mine old European collections for major secondary-market material.
The most recent phase is expansion into emerging markets, with the opening of the first non-Western gallery in Hong Kong last year, and consolidation in the more traditional ones: Gagosian is scheduled to open a larger space outside Paris this year and is said to be considering a third, larger space in London.
By Kev Geoghegan | Source: BBC
Over the summer, a group of some 30 Brazilian artists will be putting their mark on London in their own distinctive way as part of the UK-wide Festival 2012 arts programme, which runs alongside the Olympics.
In the case of Breno Pineschi, that means sticking up 10,000 brightly coloured paper bananas around the capital. Pineschi is one of 30 artists invited to the capital to take part in Rio Occupation London, part of the London 2012 Festival. His installation, the aptly-titled Tropical Cluster No. 1 is, he says, “my way to bring a real feeling of colour and happiness from my city Rio and my country”.
The project has been commissioned by Rio de Janeiro’s State Culture Secretariat and co-produced by the Battersea Arts Centre. The artists will work and stay in some of London’s most revered galleries and museums including the Southbank Centre, Somerset House, Tate Modern and, in Pineschi’s case, the V&A.
“It’s incredible for a graphic designer, the best place in the world I’m very happy,” he says.
Its aim is not only to show off the best in new Brazilian art but also to create a cultural link between London and Rio - which is due to host the Olympics in 2016. It has also been inspired, in part, by events in 1986 when 100 Brazilian artists launched a cultural invasion of the football World Cup in Mexico.
Some of the highlights of Occupation Rio include the Brazil Kitchen, a band made of chefs who will jam and cook for their audience.
Pedro Rivera treads a slightly more controversial line with his work which will see him showing London street vendors how to use 60 specially designed, collapsible tables to evade the police.
Artist and film-maker Christiane Jatahy is a co-director of Rio Occupation. Her own contribution is to approach Londoners and ask them if they would like to invite a Brazilian artist into their home to create a piece of art.
Paul Heritage, executive director of People’s Palace Projects - the UK arts charity which is producing the event - says: “We’ve had some incredible letters, like, ‘I’ve just moved into this street and I don’t know anyone and this would be a great chance to invite my neighbours’.
“A couple found a stash of tequila under their stairs and thought this would be a good excuse to open it, and there was a beautiful one from a woman who said her 92-year-old great aunt has dementia ‘and the warmth and rhythms of Brazilians, I think she would really get something from’.”
Joao Sanchez’s El Boxer Amateur is a series of paintings on rice paper hanging above the foyer of the BAC, showing tattooed fighters between bouts.
Laura Lima is one of the more established artists invited to participate. Her work has been exhibited at the Manchester International Festival - alongside Marina Abramovic - and is displayed at the Modern Museum of Sao Paulo in Brazil. At Sunday’s launch, she showed a version of her work, Man = flesh / woman = flesh - sweet. Described as a man sucking a sweet “with open mouth using a special device”, he is revealed to be wearing an uncomfortable looking headbrace. She says her new work will “combine cinema and visual art”.
“I’m going to have a film set and will stream live to the Shortwave cinema in Bermondsey over three different dates. People don’t have to stay for the whole thing. They can just come and go. I’m not telling a story.”
Christiane Jatahy says the project presents the artists “who represent a much bigger group of artists in Rio” with a serious opportunity.
“What will I bring, what can I create and what can I take away with me afterwards? The occupation is not just a platform showing what we have done, but to create something new,” she adds.
Ahead of the Olympics in 2016, Rio de Janeiro will also play host to the football World Cup in 2014. The expected celebrations will almost certainly reinforce popular perceptions of the city and its culture of beach football, Samba and caipirinhas.
“Those things are part of Brazilian culture,” says Jatahy. “We’re not denying them but perhaps we can look at them more critically; our artists reference them but with a new way of looking at them”.
The logistics of moving 30 artists and their equipment halfway around the world has brought its own difficulties.
“Usually for something like this we meet the artists beforehand and we spend weeks planning it, whereas we had just a day to set up the 30 shows,” says BAC’s Sarah O’Connor.
“Flexibility and compromise were the two words in order.”
Last year, fears were raised in the cultural sector that the Olympics would impact negatively on audiences for shows and exhibitions in the capital. However, a recent Onepoll survey suggested more than two million ticket holders had already bought tickets to a concert, musical, exhibition or play.
O’Connor agrees people are starting to engage with that most ephemeral of concepts, the Cultural Olympiad.
“Theatres were scared that it would be quiet but it’s not quiet now,” she says. “I think people are beginning to get an idea of what that very fancy phrase means, and it means samba drums with speakers built in and Brazilians singing in corridors and showing films in council chambers.
“It’s about the mixing of cultures.”
In the spirit of exchange, plans are already under way for a group of British artists to make the journey over to Rio next year.
by Julia Kollewe | Source: The Guardian
Most things Brazilian are hot – from the Copacabana to the carnival. Art is no different.
“I’ve been to Russia, China and Brazil in the last few years and Brazil is the most interesting one of the BRIC countries,” said Frieze co-director Matthew Slotover. “It has an incredible history of architecture and design through modernism, and that has really fed into the art scene.”
Brazil’s contemporary art scene, already vibrant, took off after major corporate tax breaks were introduced in the 1990s. Companies can get back up to 100% of their cultural investments in tax rebates. As a result, banks and telecoms companies have emerged as big cultural sponsors.
Among the banks, Itaú, Banco do Brasil, Santander and Caixa Econômica Federal have all set up contemporary art centres or multimedia cultural hubs around the country. The state-owned post office group, Correios, founded an important cultural centre in Rio, while telecoms companies Oi, Vivo and Embratel are also major sponsors, alongside the federation of industry and the federation of commerce.
The Lei Rouanet allows individuals and companies to invest 6% and 4% respectively of their tax due in cultural activities. In 2008, more than R$1bn was invested in culture. But the tax breaks have been criticised for allowing companies to advertise for free and for letting them set the cultural agenda. The government has proposed changes to the law, under which companies will no longer be able to use the tax rebate to invest entirely in their own cultural centres. The government will also gain more influence over where the money is invested to ensure that it is spread around the country and does not only go to the big cities.
Matteo Moriconi, who launched Brazil’s first virtual art museum in 1997 with support from the government and Petrobras, believes the tax breaks are a good thing. “I’ve lived in London for two years and now live in Rome and there is no similar law based on these principles – and it works.”
The most successful projects in Brazil are those where public and private funding is combined. A publicly funded museum will usually only have a big blockbuster show if it is funded by a big company. There are exceptions, however, for example the giant Centro Cultural São Paulo, which is completely funded by the city.
However, galleries are hamstrung by punitive rates of import tax (36%) and VAT on art, which are among the highest in the world. “This makes it very hard for institutions and private collectors to be a part of the international art market,” said Jochen Volz, former artistic director at Inhotim.
Deep in the mountain forest in the south-east, one of the most vibrant contemporary art hubs is growing. Inhotim, a non-profit organisation, was opened to the public in 2006 by the Brazilian mining magnate and art collector Bernardo Paz. He is married to one of Brazil’s leading contemporary artists, Adriana Varejão, who is represented by the Victoria Miro gallery in London. The 3,000 acre Inhotim, near Belo Horizonte, houses some 600 works of art by over 100 artists in 14 galleries and pavilions, in the midst of botanical gardens. It has a very international collection, while most other art centres mainly show Brazilian and Latin American artists.
Volz said Inhotim is playing an important role in the decentralisation of the art scene. With hundreds of galleries and museums, São Paulo and Rio dominate the Brazilian art scene, but in recent years Recife and Salvador in the north-east and Belo Horizonte in the south-east have also become important contemporary art hubs. Regional museums and galleries run by city or state governments have sprung up across the country thanks to an increase in public art funding.
Brazil’s Ministry of Culture has received its biggest budget to date this year, amounting to R$2.2bn, up from R$1.4bn last year. A problem is that not all the money ever gets spent, says Contas Abertas, a non-governmental organisation that monitors the nation’s accounts.
Experts say that Brazil has become a much more exciting place for young artists than more experienced ones. Some prestigious galleries have opened experimental spaces. Galeria Fortes Vilaca was one of the first galleries to invest in new talent and experimental projects, but since the death of its founder ten years ago, another São Paulo gallery, Galeria Vermelho, founded in 2002, has taken up the mantle.
There has been a rise in residencies, bursaries and fellowships for young artists around the country. The traditional salons where artists can submit work and compete for prizes are being revamped. In Belo Horizonte, the Museu de Arte da Pampulha, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, offers young artists scholarships to live and work in the city for one year. In Recife, a salon was used to develop cultural projects with several Indian tribes.
The São Paulo Biennial, which started in 1951 and is the oldest biennial after Venice, has gone through a difficult patch but is trying to reinvent itself with a new focus on video art this year.
The more commercial SP Arte fair, which is held in the Biennial building in São Paulo, has been growing every year since its creation in 2005. It hosts galleries, including some from the UK, US, France and Spain, in April.
“If you go to São Paulo,” Volz added, “you’d be surprised how many young artists there are who are producing very interesting work.”
The Instituto Inhotim announced the appointment of Eungie Joo as Director of Art and Cultural Programmes. Joo’s appointment coincides with the departure of Director Jochen Volz, who has been appointed incoming Head of Programmes at the Serpentine Gallery in London. Rodrigo Moura, curator at Inhotim since 2004, will assume the position of Deputy Director of Art and Cultural Programmes.
Eungie Joo joins Instituto Inhotim from the New Museum in New York, where she has served as Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Programmes since 2007. She brings with her wide experience in contemporary exhibition making, art education, cultural programming, and the creation of innovative community-focused initiatives. In 2012, Joo was the curator of the New Museum Triennial, The Ungovernables, an exhibition that marked her vision in presenting significant artistic production from different parts of the world, including South America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia to North American audiences.
Roseni Sena, Executive Director of the Instituto Inhotim, said: “Welcoming Eungie Joo to the team of Inhotim marks an important moment in the institution’s young history. Her experience and vision will make a great contribution to shaping Inhotim as a unique place where contemporary art, botany, education, and community programmes are considered and developed as means of social transformation.”
According to chief curator Allan Schwartzman: “Eungie’s organisational experience and her singular curatorial perspective make her an ideal collaborator for our distinct way of collecting and presenting art. With Eungie on board, we will be even better equipped to fulfill the vision of Inhotim.”
As of September 2012, Joo will lead Inhotim’s contemporary art and education departments, which currently engage with more than 120 collaborators. Together with curators Allan Schwartzman, Jochen Volz, Júlia Rebouças, and Rodrigo Moura, she will take a leading role in developing Inhotim’s internationally renowned contemporary art collection, exhibitions, and programmes.
On her appointment, Eungie Joo comments: “It is an honour to join the visionary team at Inhotim whose unrivaled dedication to permanent commissions and artists’ pavilions has created a remarkable museum and compelling community programs. I look forward to participating in the continued growth of this unique project.”
At the New Museum, Joo spearheaded the Museum as Hub, an experimental international art initiative that explores artistic, curatorial, and institutional practice while serving as an important resource for the public to learn about contemporary art from around the world. As part of this initiative, she commissioned Night School by Anton Vidokle, Post-Living Anti-Action Theater by My Barbarian, and Project for a Revolution in New York, or How to Arrest a Hurricane by Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri, and Programs for Research and Outreach. She also presented the exhibitions Nikhil Chopra: Yog Raj Chitrakar: Memory Drawing IX, Voice and Wind: Haegue Yang, and Carlos Motta: We Who Feel Differently. In addition to contributing to various exhibition catalogues and magazines, she is editor of Rethinking Contemporary Art and Multicultural Education and co-editor of Art Spaces Directory. In 2009, Joo served as commissioner for the Korean Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, presenting the exhibition Condensation: Haegue Yang. Joo was founding Director and Curator of the Gallery at REDCAT, Los Angeles (2003-2007), where she commissioned major new works and exhibitions by Mark Bradford, Taro Shinoda, Damián Ortega, Sora Kim, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Kara Walker, and others. She received the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement in 2006.
Jochen Volz, outgoing Artistic Director of Instituto Inhotim, will assume his new post as Head of Programmes at the Serpentine Gallery in London after this year’s inaugurations at Inhotim, scheduled for September 6. Volz joined Inhotim in 2004 as curator and from 2005 to 2007 also served as General Director of the institution. Under Volz’s artistic coordination, Inhotim opened twelve galleries and pavilions by artists including Adriana Varejao, Doris Salcedo, Doug Aitken,and Matthew Barney and numerous large-scale site-specific projects by Chris Burden, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and others. Volz will continue to serve on Inhotim’s board of curators.
by Javier Pes and Emily Sharpe | Source: The Art Newspaper
When we began our annual survey of the best attended exhibitions in 1996, to make the top 10 a show needed to attract around 3,000 visitors a day. In our survey of 2011 shows, to make the top ten required almost 7,000 visitors a day. Among them was Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, a posthumous tribute by the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. On average, more than 8,000 people a day went.
The increase in the number of people going to see the exhibitions in our surveys over the years has been remarkable. In 1996, around four million people went to the top ten shows. Last year almost six million people went to see the ten best-attended shows.
Rather than a US, European or Japanese institution, a Brazilian one, the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil’s (CCBB) Rio de Janeiro space, comes top. The building in the city’s centre hosted no less than 3 exhibitions that have made the top 10. All were free, with The Magical World of Escher being the most popular (9,700 visitors a day).
Brazil’s appetite for contemporary art is remarkable. The Brazilian mining billionaire Bernardo Paz’s massive art park, Inhotim, in a remote part of southeast Brazil, attracted around 770,000 visitors in total. Laurie Anderson at the CCBB in Rio attracted 6,930 visitors a day, and slightly more enjoyed work by the New York-based artist Mariko Mori (6,990 a day) at the same venue.
Impressionist, modern or Old Master shows used to dominate our annual survey. But, increasingly, contemporary artists figure highly. In 2011, Monet at the Grand Palais, Paris, attracted 913,000 visitors in total, or 7,600 a day. Anish Kapoor’s huge work Leviathan shown in the same space attracted almost that number, with 6,960 visitors a day. Back in 1997, Jasper Johns at the MoMA, New York, was the best-attended contemporary art show, attracting 2,700 visitors a day. Ten years ago, Richard Serra, again at MoMA, reached 8,600 visitors a day. In 2011, the best-attended solo artist show was Ai Weiwei’s installation of millions of ceramic seeds in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall; the Tate calculates that around 1.2 million visited.
But how did M.C. Escher become the world’s most popular artist? And how did Brazil surge to the top of the listings? Reasons include, among other things, the spectacular appeal of Escher mind-bending illusions; the popular appeal of a show that was devoted to as much to groovy interactive installations as art; the surging of social media among technology savvy Brazilians, which made the show go viral; and the unique position of the free-admission CCBB as a hub of Rio’s cultural life.
According to Pieter Tjabbes, curator and professor at the University of São Paulo, “the exhibition attracted a new audience for being interactive, fun, enchanting, and affordable. People who visited sent messages and photos to friends and family, which created great word-of-mouth. Social networks were instrumental in publicising the exhibition. The CCBB has been a big innovator in this respect, and has gained well-deserved prominence as a successful developer of new audiences. Other Brazilian cultural institutions also stand to benefit from this because this new public is more curious and will attend other high-quality exhibitions.”
Marcos Mantoan, former director of Rio’s CCBB [at the time of The Magical World of Escher], and now the director of Sao Paulo’s CCBB, added “this show made me appreciate a word to which I hadn’t paid much attention before: interactivity. The exhibition’s success comes from daring to mix concepts from art and entertainment. The visitor will remember much more of an exhibition in which he/she could play with the works, or enter into simulations that explain the concept of the artwork. The mixture worked and we learned much about it.”
by Naman P. Ahuja | Source: The Hindu
Last week’s headlines on the arrest of an art dealer who allegedly smuggled Indian artefacts abroad raise important issues about the preservation and protection of our heritage. Is heritage something that belongs to the land of India or to the people who identify with it? If it is the latter, then the vast numbers of Indians living in the United States, UK, Canada and elsewhere in the world may well make a strong case for the right to own the sacred images which they may have inherited from their grandmother’s puja rooms, which, currently classified as antiquities, can only be ‘smuggled’ abroad. Or, should those who come originally from areas outside modern ‘India’ seek permission from Pakistan to own the images in our puja rooms? None of this even raises the matter of people who are not of South Asian origin and who wish to own Indian art. If, on the other hand, heritage is bound to the land of the Republic, then its erudite citizens must ask why so few smugglers of their heritage have been brought to book.
Catching one person every eight to ten years is in fact reflective not of the success, but of the failure of the present laws. Actually, a vast network have channelled Indian art out of the country. This is irrespective of the fact that those links in the chain that operate in India have been dealing in antiquities which, since the promulgation of the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972, may only be traded by licensed vendors and owned by those who have registered them with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). And of the ones who have traded them abroad, we have managed to arrest few of the smugglers, although thousands of art works have actually left India’s shores. Perhaps the larger question then is not how we can increase policing of the borders, but focus instead on why so many Indian art treasures continue to leave the country? Are there no takers for them among liberalised India’s many millionaires?
The crux of my argument is that apart from the need to develop more professional and larger cadres of art historians, conservators and archaeologists to man our sites and museums so that heritage can be safeguarded and maintained, policymakers must equally urgently think about what measures can be brought in to encourage the collection of antiquities and retention of artefacts in India.
The urge to collect art is as ancient an impulse as is the urge to make art; a strong and strongly regulated domestic market for Indian antiquities is the best means to curtail the illegal export of art. If art fairs, auctions and dealing in Indian antiquities are incentivised in India, a domestic market will be encouraged so that the only markets that presently thrive, that is, the markets abroad, are stemmed. A beginning has been made in this regard with the issuing of licences for recent public sales of art to a handful of dealers, but much more needs to be done in this regard for it to percolate to middle India.
That there are many Indians who are willing to buy art is amply shown by the unprecedented rise of the Indian market for modern and contemporary art. As this market has grown more transparent, it has elicited more buyers, sellers and artists, and has been growing exponentially. Meanwhile, the market for antiquities has been shrouded in mystery with covert dealings, money laundering and the illicit trade in national heritage. While there are no systematic figures for what this market nets every year (which is itself part of a wider problem) conservative estimates for the sale of just contemporary art in the Indian metropolises alone were well over Rs. 500 crores annually between 2000- 2010 and, according to some figures, the projected worth of the Indian art market in 2006, was Rs. 2000 crores.
That slump has largely lifted now, but none of these published figures factors in the value of antiquities. Nor can they account for the illegal trade. All that can be said is that the commodity market in the grey area usually reflects sales figures which are much higher than the legal market. Since the year 2000, Indian art has appreciated a staggering 10 per cent faster annually than the stock market. Yet significant aspects of this market need careful examination, lest it be reduced to a bubble which, on account of ineffective policy, soon bursts.
The paradox is that laws made to protect heritage have now become self-defeating. It is illegal, at present, for an individual with a keen eye who happens to spot a historical object to acquire it unless he can first verify that the vendor is licensed. The first links in the chain, however, have no legal means to sell the objects they find, setting off a cascade of illegal activities.
Should Indians wish to own antiquities, they must register them with the ASI. Registration, collectors across India claim, is a cumbersome process. The extensive paperwork apart, the law demands that changes in the ownership of registered items must be notified to the ASI, that the ASI should be permitted to enter your home to inspect the registered items every three years. Furthermore, if the state wishes, it may compulsorily acquire an antiquity in a private owner’s hands. All of this is a disincentive for Indians to build collections of antiquities.
The methods of compensation when the Government decides to invoke Section 19(2) of the Act and compulsorily acquire an antiquity are blatantly unfair because the owner of the artwork is forced to surrender it at a price established by Government appointed nominees who are, at best, ill-equipped and not adequately conversant in art prices and at worst, acting at the behest of vested interests.
Compensation laws and compulsory acquisition invariably bring to mind the all too famous case of 1979 when the trustees of the Nizam of Hyderabad’s jewels were forced to accept arbitration under a compromise agreement with the Government of India to sell the art for Rs.218 crores – a figure very much below real value in the international market. Considering movable property like jewellery forms part of women’s traditional wealth, considering also that many tribal and nomadic communities may have a communitarian sense of land but value their material possessions highly and the fact that artefacts, paintings and jewels can command prices in the same league as land, a comparison with a similar situation with the Land Acquisition Act is appropriate. After all, a painting by Amrita Shergil achieved Rs. 6.9 crores in a public auction in Delhi in March 2006. And while the abuses and failings of the Land Acquisition Act, we all know, have come under severe scrutiny, art, which is of the same value and importance, seems yet to be a matter that Parliament will find time to debate on.
As part of the endeavour to create a legitimate domestic market, we will have to create the knowledge base that will allow proper assessment of objects and we will have to spend great effort in preserving and protecting our archaeological sites. And it goes without saying that in addition to a robust domestic market we also need first-rate public collections in well-tended museums. Museums and private collections are not at odds with each other; across the world the generosity of private collectors has been the mainstay of museums.
The preservation of culture has always depended on both private and public collecting. In a country where the pace of development and population growth are heralded as one of the highest in the world, one wonders if the knock on effect of these realities is being factored into the staffing needs for the ASI?
Rather than recognising the deep root of why Indian artefacts continue to get exported, policy-makers remain content with the level of petty policing of ‘smugglers’. The biggest casualty over the past two generations however, has been of the loss of the knowledge base about Indian art history. This significant crisis in the discipline has meant there are few trained people today to fill the many vacant posts in our museums. Without the museums and teachers, the even bigger casualty of course, is the extent of indifference and visual illiteracy that has spread across the country; where heritage seems not to matter in any tempered civilisational discourse, but is mobilised for the worst kind of jingoism or right-wing agendas.
Smugglers may peddle in heritage, but the inaction of our policymakers threatens to destroy it forever.
by Parul Vadehra | Source: ArtInfo
Riding a wave of recent successes, the Indian art market is poised for a breakout year. There have already been clear signs of a re-emergence in the market for modern and contemporary Indian art: the US$3.5 million record sale of a work by S.H. Raza at Christie’s in June of last year and the US$2.2 million realised for Arpita Singh’s Wish Dream mural at SaffronArt just last month. It would be hard not to take these as confirmation of heightened activity in the art scene in general.
The importance of India Art Summit must be stressed. With Delhi firmly established as the new centre for Indian art in terms of a market, and the number of galleries, collectors, and art-related events in the city multiplying, it is only natural that we should have a good art fair modeled on the likes of Art Basel in Basel and Miami, the Frieze Art Fair in London, and so on. In a short time this event has become a destination of sorts for anyone interested in art.
The role of this art fair is especially important in a country like India where general awareness about art is severely lacking due to the dearth of a vibrant museum culture. The prevailing norm for museums in the West is one museum for every 150,000 people. New York has one museum for every 10,000 people. In Delhi we have but a handful for an exponentially greater population. This is one area where private initiatives combined with favourable policy decisions can make a profound impact. In the United States, the bulk of the initiative has come from private players though with considerable support from the state, of course. In addition to the obvious elements of business generation, art fairs such as this provide many more opportunities for people to participate. Fairs also help generate awareness about art. Many visitors, who in the past may have hesitated to go into a formal gallery space, are much more comfortable viewing art in the more informal ambiance of an art fair. This will increase the overall exposure and introduce new audiences to Indian contemporary art.
In India, private forays into the museum space have already begun with such institutions as the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), Devi Art Foundation, and so on, coming into the picture. The KNMA recently relocated to a larger, more central space in South Delhi, an important addition to Delhi’s contemporary art scene and attracting a few hundred visitors a day. Also special is the museum’s location: surrounded by shopping, cinemas, restaurants and hotels, it engages with a wide-ranging audience beyond the art community.
The Indian government is realising the importance of committing to cultivating the infrastructure for arts in the country, and is actively fostering collaborations with private institutions. The recent landmark Anish Kapoor exhibition, the contemporary art exhibition held during the Commonwealth Games at the Lalit Kala Akademi (India’s National Academy of Arts in New Delhi), and various other initiatives are all confirmation of this. Last June, for the first time in the 115-year history of the Venice Biennale, there was a pavilion dedicated to Indian art, curated by art critic and curator Ranjit Hoskote.
What was very interesting about the Summit 2011 is that in addition to the gallery displays, there were some unique art projects taking place, showing the seriousness and ambition of the local scene, as well as the international interest in India. The “FICA FeedStation” project for one, a collaboration between Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) and artist Abhishek Hazra, brought together a team of bloggers and guest writers to engage in a live online dialogue on the activities at the fair, as well as issues related to the larger sphere of contemporary art practice.
This is an exciting time for Indian art. With its market valued at US$400 million — as compared to a market for Western art, which is around US$40 billion — there is tremendous room to expand. It is thrilling to be at the centre of this period of change and growth. This is just the beginning.
Terrance Shanahan felt as if he were “running to the sound of gunfire” when he joined dozens of concerned supporters of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art and Design at a hastily arranged public forum at the gallery last month. Gallery leaders realised that, for the third time in 23 years, they faced a community relations crisis on top of a financial emergency. Shanahan wanted to help.
Corcoran Director Fred Bollerer offered reasons for the board of trustees’ controversial decision to consider selling the historic building near the White House and possibly moving to the suburbs. Basically, Bollerer said, the gallery was verging on broke. The Corcoran was about to post its second US$7 million deficit in a row, and it would cost at least US$130 million to renovate the building. Where could so much money come from?
Shanahan had become a member of the Corcoran earlier in the year. When he heard news of the possible move, he said, he bumped up his membership from “supporting” ($160) to “contributing” ($500), to help the Corcoran stay put — though he was never solicited by the Corcoran. On the day of the forum, Shanahan did receive a fundraising appeal — from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where he had also been a member. “Why am I not getting the same e-mail from the Corcoran?” Shanahan asked himself. “Why don’t they ask every member to upgrade their membership one level?”
The Corcoran’s woes are deep, complicated and decades old, but Shanahan’s experience distils the essence of the problem: at critical moments, the gallery has repeatedly failed to make its own best case to even its best friends.
Unable to present a consistently clear pitch for itself, the Corcoran has made it too easy for major donors to drift to more predictable — and prestigious — art charities, such as the Smithsonian and the National Gallery.
Now, with the Corcoran’s annual fundraising, membership and attendance at their lowest ebb in decades, it’s not just the $500 givers who have felt curiously ignored. “I haven’t gotten a phone call from anyone at the Corcoran in five years,” said Tony Podesta, a lobbyist who, with his wife, Heather, is a leading art collector. He estimates that the couple has donated 150 works to the Corcoran over the years. “We still occasionally give them works of art, although it’s a little bit nerve-racking not to know what the future holds.”
“Years ago, we went to the Corcoran Ball,” the gallery’s key annual fundraiser, said Wayne Reynolds, former chairman of Ford’s Theatre and husband of millionaire philanthropist Catherine Reynolds. “I’ve never been asked back that I know of. I haven’t really been approached. It’s not really on my radar screen.”
One arts patron with millions to dispose of said, “I haven’t been asked to give.” And, when the patron’s organisation has rented the Corcoran for elegant gatherings, unlike at other venues that take the opportunity to market themselves, “I’ve never met anybody from the Corcoran. Nobody is there to tell me how great they are. I don’t think they’re really in fundraising mode.”
The reason has to do with erratic leadership, poor timing and bad luck over the years. More fundamental has been the lack of a clear sense of identity and mission.
Washington’s oldest private art museum, founded in 1869, has been trying to figure out its niche in the capital’s cultural eco-system ever since its primacy was upended in 1937, when Andrew Mellon and Congress launched the National Gallery of Art as a well-endowed, taxpayer-subsidised model. The Corcoran has never enjoyed a huge cash endowment. Financier William Wilson Corcoran’s principal gifts to the museum were its original building — now the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery — and the founding collection of American Art. By the time he died in 1888, Corcoran had also given $1.6 million, according to press accounts then. The Corcoran used some of its money to purchase land and commission the 1897 construction of its current home, the beaux-arts landmark on 17th Street NW. A benefactor underwrote an expansion in the 1920s, and, in 1925, the endowment stood at US$1 million (US$13 million in current dollars). The gallery established itself as an important national venue. Its biennial survey of Contemporary American Art was a vital happening on the national art scene for much of the 20th century.
From the earliest days, to help with operating expenses, the Corcoran charged admission. In 1910, it was 25 cents. That common practice loomed as a handicap as Washington filled with free museums. For several years starting in 1979, oil tycoon Armand Hammer, a trustee, underwrote free admission. But entry fees returned and now are US$8 to US$10. By 1959, money woes at the Corcoran were a regular topic of cultural conversation in Washington. “Right now, the gallery is just holding its own,” The Washington Post reported in November of that year. “It doesn’t have a money cushion to acquire new works and expand its program.” The endowment was melting under the strain of covering half the operating budget of US$241,000 (US$1.9 million in current dollars).
Red ink flowed year after year in the early 1970s, as directors came and went. There was speculation that the Corcoran might not survive independently. And the Hirshhorn opened as yet another publicly funded competitor. Yet after cost-cutting and fundraising, the Corcoran was back in the black by the mid-1970s. During an ensuing period of relative stability, the institution wrestled with unresolved questions of how the gallery fit into the growing menu of cultural options; the proper relationship between the gallery and the college; the balance between national and local identities; how to expand physically; and how to pay the bills for maintaining a lovely, historic space.
Marshalling itself to tackle all those questions, in the mid- to late 1980s, the gallery launched its most ambitious capital campaign: US$10 million for the endowment, US$2.5 million for renovations. It resolved to enhance community education and pursue “ground-breaking” exhibits. And it planned an office building on an adjacent lot to expand the college and provide rental income.
In June 1989, one of those ground-breaking exhibits turned out to be a show of Robert Mapplethorpe’s homoerotic photos. In a vain attempt to side-step a national political battle over federal funding of supposedly offensive art, the Corcoran cancelled the show before it opened. The gallery had received no federal money for the exhibit but had enjoyed nearly US$300,000 in federal support the year before. This epic cave-in prompted street protests and artist boycotts. The gallery’s late-1980s aspiration for a financial and artistic leap forward was sabotaged by a setback from which it would be hard to recover.
Membership renewals dropped by 50% for several months, at a time when membership stood at 6,000. “We had been recruiting these people by saying, ‘We’re an independent museum, not subject to any government pressure’… We violated the very spirit we used to recruit people,” said Brigitte Savage, who ran the membership department. Painter Lowell Nesbitt withdrew a planned bequest of more than US$1 million. The uproar squashed the latter part of the capital campaign, which still managed to raise at least US$6.7 million. But the real estate recession of the time killed the expansion plan and hoped-for rent stream.
Yet within several years, the Corcoran was back with grand designs to reinvent and right itself. The shelved office project morphed into a stunning proposed Frank Gehry-designed expansion. Instead of providing rental space, it would be devoted to allowing the college to grow. The architectural showpiece would lure tourists, and the fundraising campaign would cover renovation of the historic gallery.
By 2005, the dream was doomed when initial cost estimates of US$60 million shot to US$200 million. Meanwhile, the dot-com bubble had burst, erasing millions the Corcoran had been counting on from a new local wealthy class. The campaign raised a fraction of the money and the project was killed. Director David Levy resigned, board members quit, donors withdrew pledges. When the dust settled, the Corcoran could keep only about US$28 million. More than half went to pay Gehry for unused drawings. The rest evaporated into operations that were once again in the red.
John T. “Til” Hazel Jr., the board chairman at the time, said he was dismayed to discover how little financial support the Corcoran could muster. “It wasn’t as if we didn’t try,” Hazel said. “I talked to a number of people who had the potential, and they just were not interested in the Corcoran.” Hazel also engaged a museum development expert to study the donor market. The consultant reported back, Hazel recalled: “You have almost zero potential for raising money.”
The reason was the pool of major donors was smaller in Washington than in, say, in New York, and those funders could choose from “a lot more glamorous things to give to,” Hazel said. “You’re talking about the Smithsonian, the National Gallery, the Kennedy Centre.” In the shadow of those institutions, the mid-sized Corcoran must fund expenses that are more than double those at a more focused, smaller private museum such as the Phillips Collection, and five times those at the private National Museum of Women in the Arts.
A former trustee, now associated with another arts institution, said the Corcoran’s persistent inability to fund its wavering ambitions is because “we never had the fundraising machine that I have experienced with other arts institutions, and I think we haven’t had the fundraising base. Large donors have migrated to parts of the Smithsonian that reflect more directly their individual interests,” said the former trustee. “And there is also within those institutions a national platform and a national reach. The Corcoran has been hampered by its lack of focus.”
Much of the leadership is new. Thirteen of the 15 trustees joined the board after the Gehry flop. Bollerer is the second gallery director since Levy left, and, at 70, he plans to retire this year.
The new crowd is contemplating the most dramatic — sceptics say self-destructive — solution of all to the riddle of rethinking the Corcoran. “The destiny of the Corcoran should not turn on the building it sits in, but on what it does,” said Harry Hopper, chairman of the trustees.
To Hopper, a venture capitalist and contemporary art collector who joined the board in 2005, the Corcoran’s identity crisis dates to 1937 and the founding of the National Gallery, while its credibility crisis has been compounded by the misadventures of 1989 and 2005. “I would say the Corcoran’s life changed when Paul Mellon agreed to fund and drive the National Gallery to a different level and the Corcoran didn’t really respond to or understand that for decades,” Hopper said. “It hasn’t presented a crisp and clear position in the cultural marketplace. We’re working hard to change that.”
The board voted simply to consider selling the building and relocating, but Hopper says preliminary estimates suggest it would be significantly cheaper to go rather than stay. However, he would not disclose the estimated profit on selling the building nor the potential cost of developing new space elsewhere. The Corcoran has received multiple offers, according to gallery officials who would not identify the buyers. The gallery is hiring brokers to sift the offers and scout relocation options. “And at the same time, we’re open to other alternatives,” Hopper said. “For example, we have had partnership and joint venture discussions, and we remain open to those.” He declined to say what other institutions participated in those discussions. He added: “If a funding alternative reveals itself that takes us on a path to stay in the building, we would love that.”
Weighing relocation is just one piece of the puzzle. The board’s contemplated solution to the Corcoran’s identity crisis is to focus the mission more emphatically on education. What this means in practice remains to be seen, but Hopper said it could be accomplished more easily in a larger, more flexible space. Tuition payments to the art college now account for nearly 80% of the Corcoran’s annual revenue of US$24 million — a dramatic increase from about 30% in the late 1990s. It shows that the college already is central to the gallery’s balance sheet. Hopper has said the financial strain would be eased if the student population, now capped at about 600 because of space constraints, could rise to more than 800.
Despite the refocus on education, the sale of the Corcoran’s 16,000 artworks is not under consideration, Hopper said. The gallery has a leading collection of 19th century and early 20th century American painting, and a major photography collection, among other highlights. “The Corcoran can’t be the National Gallery, and the Corcoran can’t be a little boutique gallery located in a part of town that’s more convenient to the Northwest community like the Phillips,” Hopper said. “Our differentiator is that we’ve got a collection that has unique strengths, and we’re uniquely differentiated by having a degree-granting art college.”
Bold plans are one thing, but whether the Corcoran stays or goes, it still must figure out how to raise money. The recent record is dismal. The total fundraising for the last two fiscal years available (US$3.2 million in the year ending June 2011; US$4.4 million, June 2010) is the lowest since before 1995, the earliest year for which the gallery’s tax filings are readily accessible. The Corcoran has had budget deficits in 7 of the last 10 years. The endowment has dwindled from US$28 four years ago to US$19 million because of investment losses during the recession, deficit spending and recalculating some lost pledges tied to the Gehry campaign. Membership is down to 3,800, after topping 9,000 late in the Gehry campaign. The number of visitors to the gallery has sunk below 100,000 for the first time in memory, dropping to 69,442 for the year ending June 30.
Hopper said this “quiet period” when fundraising and public engagement have faltered — and supporters such as Shanahan haven’t been solicited — “has been an unfortunate consequence of taking the time to put together a credible plan.” The hit to the Corcoran’s credibility after the Gehry failure was paralysing, he said. It was hard to start asking for money again. Internal operations had to be rebuilt.
Hopper said he hasn’t solicited major donations during this period, though he and his wife, Maria, have given US$250,000 to US$499,999, according to the Corcoran’s fundraising honour roll. “If you’re going to go to serious people and serious foundations for serious amounts of money, 7-digit figures, you have to make your case for the cultural position of the institution, but you also have to show how in the bigger picture the viability question is answered,” Hopper said.
“That feels like a cop-out,” said Podesta, who said the Corcoran could have used the time better to reach out to the public for support and ideas.
To help make ends meet, the Corcoran recently sold the adjacent parcel — the one that was first to have been a rental property, then the Gehry expansion — for US$20.5 million to an office developer.
Boards of trustees are critical fundraising engines for arts organisations. Most of the Corcoran’s trustees are relatively obscure to members of Washington’s more established social and philanthropic circles. “I don’t know them,” said more than one patron around town. Trustees Carolyn Alper, Sarah Chapoton, Anne Edwards and Eleanor Hedden are recognised as arts advocates and long-time Corcoran supporters. Franco Nuschese is known as the owner of Cafe Milano. The rest include business and non-profit types with a range professional and cultural connections that will enable them to raise and donate money, Hopper said. “The board will step up as we go out to get sponsorship for this plan,” Hopper said. “We’re getting close to being able to distil out our strengths and communicate them more clearly.”
The wisdom of selling the building is hotly disputed around town on aesthetic, historic, sentimental and patrimonial grounds. The financial case for and against won’t be clear until a buyer’s money is publicly on the table and the price of relocating is known. The Save the Corcoran group of artists and advocates for staying has collected more than 2,900 signatures on a petition “to halt this misguided effort to sell the Corcoran.”
Stay or go, the future will depend on the generosity of donors such as artist George Andreas, who with his family and foundation, has given more than US$1 million to the Corcoran over the years. “The present location, if they can do it, is best,” Andreas said. Still, he added, “I am very pleased with this new regime. They are practical; they want to be realistic.” And it will depend on art patrons like Podesta, who noted: “The Whitney has moved. The Guggenheim moved. The Barnes has moved. Museums move all the time. I think the real question is: is there a sustainable model going forward that could take advantage of the collection and the role that the museum plays in the community?”
A good question — one that has been asked and not answered for too long.
by Mark Brown | Source: Wired UK
Google has launched a new exhibition at the Science Museum in London where you can interact with physical installations through your web browser.
With Sketchbots, for example, you can snap a picture of your face using your webcam, and an artistic robot at the Science Museum will doodle your mug in the sand. You’ll see the result over a video feed. Universal Orchestra, another meatspace-meets-cyberspace installation, is an eight-piece robotic band situated in London, which you can control over the web. You can also collaborate with other musicians.
They’re part of the Chrome Web Lab, which is about showing off how “incredible” the internet is, Google says. Another part of the site, Data Tracer, is a 3D visualisation that lets you track down individual photos on the web, to see where in the world images are stored. Teleporter lets you look through live webcams stationed throughout the world. I took a brief panoramic tour of Amelie’s Bakery in North Carolina and the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town.
Steve Vranakis, creative director of Web Lab at Google, says the internet “powers our lives everyday, allows us to explore the globe and lets us communicate with friends the world over. Until now, all this magic has remained locked behind our screens. Web Lab changes all that. We’ve worked with the Science Museum to create unique experiments that will demonstrate the power of the Internet to everyone who visits,” he adds.
Web Lab opened on 19 July, and runs until Summer 2013. Entry to the lab is free, and the exhibitions should still work - even when the Science Lab closes for the night at 6PM.
Enter Web Lab, a series of interactive Chrome Experiments made by Google that bring the extraordinary workings of the internet to life. Join online visitors to create music together, watch your portrait being drawn by a robot and discover much more at this first-of-its-kind web-based exhibition.
Experience 1 | Universal Orchestra: make music with people across the world. See how the web enables people to collaborate.
Experience 2 | Teleporter: travel instantly to far away places. See how the web can give you the experience of being somewhere else.
Experience 3 | Sketchbots: watch your portrait being processed and drawn by a robot. See how the web connects to physical objects.
Experience 4 | Data tracer: trace routes across the internet’s vast network and see where images live. See how data travels across the web.
Experience 5 | Lab tag explorer: explore Web Lab’s global community and browse visitors’ creations. See how information on the web is easily accessible.
Or maybe you’re planning to visit the exhibition itself?
Location: Science Museum, London
Suggested duration: 45 mins
Opening dates: from July 19th 2012 to June 20th 2013
by Javier Pes | Source: The Art Newspaper
The Tanks at Tate Modern, which open to the public on Wednesday 18 July, were launched on Monday night with a party that continued until past midnight, complete with film-premier-style spotlights sweeping the guests as they arrived in London’s power station turned modern and contemporary art museum.
The acoustics of the East Tank (Commission) and the South Tank (Live), two of three underground spaces where the oil that fuelled the power station was once stored, are remarkable. The spaces act as sound boxes, amplifying the hubbub created by the guests who were excited to explore the atmospheric spaces. They now seem tailor made for performance and video art.
When Nick Serota, the director of the Tate, first visited the redundant oil tanks in the mid-1990s access was down a steep ladder, he recalls. He describes them in the programme notes as “primal”. But guests at last night’s launch party for what the Tate calls the world’s first museum galleries dedicated to performance art took, instead, a less stressful step-free route to the bunker-like spaces. The guests were starry, including the musician Neil Tennant, theatre and film director Stephen Daldry, artists Anish Kapoor, Jeremy Deller, Dexter Dalwood, Michael Craig-Martin and Cornelia Parker among others.
The conversion of the Tanks retains the feel of bunkers, with brutalist concrete columns set at dramatic angles complementing the original industrial architecture. In places there is even a slight whiff of old oil. While standing in line for a performance to begin in the South Tank of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s minimalist double-hander Fase: Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich, 1982, Nicholas Logsdail, the Lisson Gallery’s founder and director, told The Art Newspaper: “It’s a wonderful brutal space redolent with meaning: a kind of past-future condition,” adding that the conversion of the Tanks signals that “things are getting cracking here”, a reference to the fact that it marks the opening phase of the museum’s delayed Herzog and de Meuron-designed high-rise extension. Two cranes are now in place behind Tate Modern and building work has begun on the £215m tower that was due to rise above the Tanks by 2012 before the recession hampered fundraising. The Tate’s latest press release states that the new building will be completed by 2016 “at the latest”.
The Turner prize nominee artist Dexter Dalwood also put Tate Modern’s new spaces into a wider context: “The Tanks are a development and a vision of how a museum should be looking to the future as well as at the past. ‘Important’ is too strong a word as it depends how the space is utilised over the next decade and what the rest of the new extension provides.”
The opening programme is sponsored by The Tanks Supporters Group. Called a festival, it consists of performance, film and video work (until 28 October) by more than 40 artists, including a new commission in the East Tank by the Korean-born, New York-based Sung Hwam Kim, which has been supported by Sotheby’s.
Additional raw concrete galleries next to the Tanks, called the Transformer Galleries, feature some of the Tate’s recent video and film acquisitions, including Lisa Rhodes’s Light Music, 1975, and Suzanne Lacy’s Crystal Quilt, 1987. The spaces are named after a Tate trustee, John Studzinski, the British-based, US-born financier who made an early donation of £5m to the Tate to help fund Tate Modern’s expansion. Serota made a point of praising the support of the Tate’s numerous foreign-born donors, which include the Swiss philanthropist Maja Hoffmann, not least those who are resident in the UK but not “domiciled” for tax purposes, a privileged status that has been criticised by politicians and in the press.
by Jim Richardson | Source: MuseumNext
When I was a child growing up in England we had four television channels, and if I wanted to watch my favourite programme I had to wait for it to appear on my parents television set at the time which it was broadcast.
My children live in a different world, a place where broadcasting has evolved to meet and often exceed to expectations of the public. In the UK, our public broadcaster the BBC has in recent years led this evolution, with iPlayer, an on demand service which allows me to view there programmes online, on mobile or on television with the click of a button.
The service is incredibly popular, with 1 in 4 people in the UK saying they view more television via iPlayer and similar services than regular TV. In an age when the public increasingly expect services on demand at a time and place that suites them, this public service is delivering an excellent service.
The traditional model of a museum is similar to that of television. The museum opens its doors at set times and ‘broadcasts’ through a set channel. The public are expected to be there if they wish to participate in the experience.
What we are now seeing (or need to see) is a shift towards an iPlayer model. The museum needs to move beyond expecting people to come to them, and see the value in taking their knowledge to their audiences in a format which fits in to peoples lives.
This does not only mean investing in technology (though I believe that is key), but rethinking opening hours and taking collections beyond the walls of the institution. Many institutions are doing this, yet I still find myself standing frustrated at the doors of a closed museum on a Sunday afternoon.
How would you create an on demand experience for museums?
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Take over an empty shop in a shopping center and take the museum to people who might never visit spend time.
2. Open later (even if it means you open later) so people can visit after work.
3. Invest in digital capacity (technology and staff) and use the web and apps to be open 24/7.
4. Open up your collection data through API’s to allow others to find ways to share your collection.
5. Use free channels like Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, Pinterest etc to take your museum beyond its walls.
How about you? How would you create an on demand experience for museums? Have your say!