Archive for the ‘Museums’ Category

Service of Art III

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit Institute of Arts

The subhead in a New York Times op-ed, “Costs, Benefits and Masterpieces,” by Robert H. Frank was: “For Detroit and its endangered art collection, a classic question of economic trade-offs.”

In a nutshell the Cornell economics professor’s point was that a museum, such as the Detroit Institute of Arts, could do just as well collecting the less expensive work of emerging artists leaving the mega rich to pay humongous prices for famous paintings and lend them to museums, as necessary, for exhibits. Therefore museums, such as the one in revenue-starved Detroit, could sell its Picassos, Rembrandts, Gauguins and more to better benefit its citizens. 

"The Wedding Dance" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Photo: Wikipedia

“The Wedding Dance” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Photo: Wikipedia

Using “The Wedding Dance” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder as an example, he wrote that Christie’s estimates that the work could bring $200 million, noting that “Once interest rates return to normal levels — say, 6 percent — the forgone interest on that amount would be approximately $12 million a year.”

He concluded: “If billionaires choose to bid up the prices of trophy art, that’s their privilege. And because most of them will die with large fortunes unspent, they can buy what they want without having to buy less of other things they value. But because money for worthy public purposes is chronically in short supply, city officials and true philanthropists must grapple with agonizing trade-offs.

“Yes, communities benefit from famous paintings, but they also benefit from safer roads and better schools.”

Christie's Auction. Photo: artmarketblog

Christie’s Auction. Photo: artmarketblog

I like the idea of identifying talented emerging artists and filling museums with their work yet I see it as a short-term solution. Once the $billions are gone–and they soon will be–how then will the gluttonous city coffers replenish themselves? If a city like Detroit has such great collections, shouldn’t they be a tourist draw?

Perhaps Detroit can generate income by renting the master paintings to billionaires letting them display them in their homes and offices. With the rental money Detroit might make itself conducive to tourism. That’s key. When I used to visit Brooklyn Museum on a weekend some 20 years ago most of the exhibits were echo chambers. Last December, when my client produced the American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn at the museum on a famously snowy weekend, I was amazed by the hoards coming in the doors in spite of the storm.

Your ideas?

 

Brooklyn Museum in snow

Brooklyn Museum in snow

 

 

Service of Full Measure III: Fleeced by a Vegetable Stand and Museum

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Cup runneth over

Seems I just wrote one of these. Sign of the times.

Not Fruitful

I’ve commented about a great fruit and vegetable stand on Second Avenue and 49th Street in Manhattan. I never knew who owned the stand but the young men who staffed it were friendly, some more helpful than others, the prices were excellent as was the quality.

ugly vegetable standSomeone else seems to have bought the stand–the same older man I’d never before seen is there morning and evening. The prices stayed the same but the quality and variety have plummeted. Asparagus were old and shriveled; peaches that looked OK on the outside were rotten. I got the feeling that the produce was bought from a seconds stand at Hunts Point, if there is one.

Since I began to write this post, the stand disappeared altogether and it’s back, with the original staff. If the owner rented the stand to someone so the staff could take a vacation he’d best try something else next year.

Watch Out

Jammed museum exhibitWe made a day trip to a well regarded museum in a college town to see a heavily publicized and advertised exhibit we’d looked forward to. Much of the museum is under construction. The exhibit was tiny–three modest rooms–and was far from a retrospective of the artist. In addition, open to the public in the main facility were another three spaces with select pieces from the extensive permanent collection and one more room with a few pictures from another artist.

Salt to the wound: Because there was so little for the public to see, the rooms were jammed and it was hard to get near the paintings and drawings. This is never the case in the spacious galleries.

We were there for less than one hour. Nevertheless the museum charged its standard $20pp.

What was the replacement fruit/vegetable man thinking? Didn’t he realize he’d lose the regular customers or was he, like so many in business, counting on the trade of hundreds of new customers rather than keeping the loyal ones because he’d soon be gone? As for the museum, it has our money and doesn’t care about our reaction and disappointment. Should it?

Disappointment2

Service of Museums

Monday, June 20th, 2011

met-museumOne of my earliest memories is of going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History with my sister. I was too young to have been aware of entrance fees; however our allowances were modest so I trust they weren’t exorbitant.

I was glad to note that both these museums have suggested fees–rather than a hard and fast ticket price–in a list posted in The New York Times on the occasion of the Met’s raising its suggestion to $25. The Natural History Museum hopes for $16. Along with the Brooklyn Museum [$10], they are the only ones that offer the option of paying what you want/can among the 15 most expensive on the list of 23. To get in to the others, from the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, $24, to the Museum of the Moving Image, $10, you must pay. The last seven also suggest you pay, from the Museum of the City of New York [$10] to the Staten Island Museum [$3].

amermusnatlhistoryIn my sister’s care–she’s always been bold and brave–had we been children today she would have given what she could and we would have visited these favorites.

However I believe that there are many without the ability to pay who would be discouraged from going. [I also fear that those with ample incomes who relentlessly squeeze everyone and everything around them will pay $1 and not blink.]

In any case, someone has to pay for upkeep, security and adding to the collections of these venerable institutions. Visiting a museum isn’t as crucial as healthcare, food and shelter. What to do? Where to give? What to give up?

 museum-guard

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