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museums

Paul Giamatti as an Insane Museum Curator? Make It Happen!

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Picture it: A Fellini- and Buñuel-flavored tale of a museum curator grappling with dwindling visitor numbers, harsh economic realities, his crumbling sanity, and…a giant sloth! We were sold on the premise of graphic novelist Paul Hornschemeier‘s planned animated short film even before learning that the crazy curator, one Gordon Boonewell, will be voiced by Paul Giamatti. Saturday Night Live‘s dazzling Kate McKinnon has also signed on to the project, entitled Giant Sloth, which Hornschemeier is looking to fund through a freshly launched Kickstarter campaign.

“Uncompromised by the studio process, Giant Sloth combines the psychologically rich world of literary graphic novels with the all the possibilities of motion and sound that animation allows,” notes Hornschemeier. “It treats its characters not as clowns shuffling for an easy laugh, but as people. And as giant sloths. Giant sloths are people too.”
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Cooper-Hewitt Appoints Brooke Hodge as Deputy Director

hodgeCurator, writer, and critic Brooke Hodge will join the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum as deputy director, a post that has been vacant since Caroline Baumann stepped up from that role in 2012 to serve as acting director following the death of Bill Moggridge. Baumann was named director of the museum last June. Hodge, who been director of exhibitions and publications at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles since 2010, will begin her new position on July 16 as the Cooper-Hewitt continues the countdown to its reopening after an epic renovation that will expand exhibition space by more than 60%. “I’ve known and admired Brooke since her involvement [as a guest curator] with the 2006 Triennial at Cooper-Hewitt, and I’m thrilled she is joining us at this critical juncture,” said Baumann in a statement released today. “Brooke will be diving into preparations for our opening later this fall, while partnering with me and museum teams on the exciting, future plans for the nation’s design museum.”

National Building Museum Explores ‘Designing for Disaster’

johnstown PA 1889The Washington Monument reopens to the public today—nearly three years after sustaining severe damage from the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the East Coast in August 2011. Total cost of repairs to the towering obelisk? Approximately $15 million. Amidst rising costs associated with natural disasters, the National Building Museum is exploring new approaches to disaster resilience in “Designing for Disaster,” an exhibition that runs through August 2 of next year at the Washington, D.C. institution.

Organized by the destructive forces associated with each of the elements—earth, air, fire, and water, the show is a mix of case studies, artifacts (including singed opera glasses from the Waldo Canyon wildfire, and stone fragments from the earthquake-damaged National Cathedral), and immersive experiences (DIY disasters?) such as a “wall of wind” against which visitors can compare how various roof shapes perform in hurricane-force gales. Those that find even simulated disasters overwhelming can take refuge in the FEMA-specified tornado safe room.

SFMOMA to Honor Jonathan Ive

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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, now in the throes of an epic Snøhetta-designed expansion, is the not letting the absence of an HQ prevent it from bestowing its annual lifetime achievement award. This year’s recipient is Apple’s Jonathan Ive, who will be presented with the 2014 Bay Area Treasure Award at a dinner on October 30 (venue TBD). Past recipients include artists Wayne Thiebaud and Richard Serra, filmmaker George Lucas, and landscape architect Lawrence Halprin.
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Smithsonian Joins Forces with Great Courses in Decade-Long Deal

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In a bit of news that is in keeping this week’s fun-yet-educational theme, the Smithsonian Institution has inked a deal with The Great Courses (née The Teaching Company) to produce new courses devoted to history, science, culture, travel, music, and the arts. The ten-year licensing agreement calls for the purveyor of recorded lectures to draw upon the Smithsonian’s museums and collections for a staring-line up of twelve courses that will include “Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History,” “A Visual Guide to the Universe,” and “The Great Tours and Smithsonian Journeys: Essential Sites of Rome, Venice, and Tuscany.” We suggest a “Museum Masterpieces: Cooper-Hewitt” edition to accompany the existing Great Courses that offer virtual tours of the Met, the Louvre, and London’s National Gallery.

Metropolitan Museum Debuts Roof Garden Commission: Dan Graham with Günther Vogt

Who needs a plain old terrace when you can have a Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout? Nancy Lazarus heads to the roof of the Met to reflect on the matter.

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(Photos: Hyla Skopitz, The Photograph Studio, The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

As the Metropolitan Museum of Art prepares to roll out the red carpet for its Costume Institute gala, it has rolled out a green carpet of grass turf for its annual roof garden exhibit: Two-Way Hedge Labyrinth Walkabout, a collaboration between American artist Dan Graham and Swiss landscape architect Günther Vogt.

“I designed the changing convex and concave pavilion as a funhouse for kids and a photo op for parents,” said Graham at Monday’s press preview. “The work relates to Central Park and to the earlier works in my collection.” Some of his prior projects are on view in a companion exhibit on the museum’s second floor. That multimedia display encompasses photos, architectural models, videos, and a smaller, triangular-shaped glass pavilion with circular cutouts.
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Sneak Peek: Sagmeister & Walsh’s New Identity for Jewish Museum

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Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh of Sagmeister & Walsh are following up on “Six Things,” their mesmerizing, happiness-inducing 2013 exhibition at New York’s Jewish Museum, with a new graphic identity for the institution. It debuts tomorrow with a divine dominant blue and a deliberate script typeface that evokes the cadence and squared verticality of the Hebrew alphabet. Designed to evolve with the institution, the new identity system is “inspired by ancient sacred geometry fused with a sleek contemporary aesthetic,” according to the museum. The logo mark, logo typography, patterns, and illustrations were drawn on the same geometric grid from which the Star of David was formed. And stay tuned for the new website, also a Sagmeister & Walsh production. It debuts in June and will feature 3,000 collection objects (over 10% of the collection) with the goal of increasing to at least 20,000 works in the next five years.

Chicago Design Museum to Open Permanent Gallery, Archive

For the past couple of years the Chicago Design Museum has been going about its mission “to unite, inform, and inspire” in pop-up mode. The nomadic institution has exhibited the work of design stars such as Marian Bantjes, Ed Fella, and Debbie Millman, whose 2012 “Look Both Ways” show of large-scale visual essays was part of the Windy City debut (founders Tanner Woodford and Mark Dudlik piloted the concept in Phoenix). Now the museum is looking to settle down, with a permanent space that will serve as both exhibition space and archive. The new HQ debuts this summer, just in time to celebrate the AIGA centennial with an exhibition that will “reintroduce Chicagoans to the last century of design from our city,” according to Woodford, who has big plans for the future. “Beyond this summer, we intend to explore design across other disciplines—architecture, interior, product, furniture, fashion, and more.” A Kickstarter campaign is now underway to make these ambitious plans a reality. Would-be backers have until the evening of Friday, May 2 to show their support.

Beatrix Ruf Named Director of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

rufAmsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, currently home to exhibitions of the work of Marcel Wanders and Jeff Wall (and book your flights now for September when the Marlene Dumas retrospective will occupy a circuit of 15 rooms), has found a new director in Beatrix Ruf (pictured), the current director of the Kunsthalle Zürich. She succeeds Ann Goldstein, who was artistic director at the Stedelijk for the past four years, and will jointly lead the museum with managing director Karin van Gilst. Ruf will start her involvement with the museum immediately and take up her new role on a full-time basis in November.

As director of the Kunsthalle Zürich since 2001, Ruf initiated and oversaw the completion of an extensive reconstruction and expansion, commissioned numerous installations, and initiated projects such as the survey exhibitions of Yang Fudong and Ian Wallace, among others. In 2006, she was the curator of the successful third edition of the Tate Triennial in London. “I feel very honored, and am very moved, to be entrusted with the opportunity to be director of the Stedelijk Museum and to lead its extraordinary exhibition history and its collection into the future, together with the entire Stedelijk team,” said Ruff in a statement announcing her appointment. “Its courageous and outstanding contemporary—as well as art historical—exhibitions and world-class collection of modern and contemporary art and design were always a beacon and example in my own professional thinking and in numerous discussions with artists and colleagues. The Stedelijk Museum is a museum that shows us how to live in the present and how the future can be built on tradition.”

Quote of Note | Lowery Stokes Sims

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“Despite [an] explosion of interest in and fostering of artisan skills, there is still a paucity of recognition of the individual hands of artisans in the rest of the world. While a product might be fitted with an identifying tag or label attached, little effort is made to identify, codify, and promote individual skill sets and styles. The anonymity that still tends to accompany the largely female-based global artisan and craft classes speaks clearly of the lack of diversity and accessibility to recognition that these creators are yet to attain in the global art market….Whether one agrees with the ‘rules of the game’ that govern the global art market, it is clear, however, that equality of opportunity and recognition for such craftswomen and artisans depends on the promotion of individual style and personality.”

-Lowery Stokes Sims, chief curator of the Museum of Arts and Design, on the state of international craft and its implications for the future of the field in The Brooklyn Rail

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