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Technology is changing all around us, and the issues for museums, it seems to me, are quite challenging. Choices are not inconsequential, and they are not (usually) easy to pull off. In an era of limited resources, where should time and money be spent?

All of that is a preface to my praise for what the British Library is doing with its Royal Manuscripts exhibition, which opened on Nov. 11. Subtitled “The Genius of Illumination,” it looks from afar to be a real occasion — a must-see exhibit if you are in London. And, combined with the once-in-a-lifetime Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery, it maybe even worth a trip there…

You don’t have to go to England… the show comes with an app, available worldwide for iPad, iPhone and Android device.

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Judith H. Dobrzynski
Real Clear Arts

Can you recall your first visit to a museum? Your first exposure to great art? Or, perhaps, a museum visit or a work of art that turned you into an art-lover? Or an artist? What are your museum memories?

Tomorrow is International Museum Day, an annual event created by ICOM, the International Council of Museums that has been around since 1977. This year, ICOM says that more than 30,000 museums in about 100 countries will take part. And the Association of Art Museum Directors, meanwhile, calculates that about 100 American art museums will participate, often by reducing admission rates or offering special programs. (Not everything takes place tomorrow, though — some museums shift the day to make it more convenient.)

This year, ICOM has chosen the theme “museums and memory” in an attempt to prompt museums to explore how they help preserve individual and collective memory.

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Judith H. Dobrzynski
Real Clear Arts


Sambor Preh Kok, in Cambodia: a Khmer masterpiece of fired-brick architecture

Here’s another list of important cultural heritage sites to worry about: 20 “on the verge” of experiencing irreversible, irreparable loss and destruction, according to the Global Heritage Fund.

Like UNESCO and the World Monuments Fund, GHF aims to shine a light on endangered sites; the main difference from them, as far as I can tell, is that GHF focuses exclusively on the developing world and it adds an economic argument for preservation.

For more and a list of the 20 sites:

Judith H. Dobrzynski
Real Clear Arts

Why do we want students to learn about the arts? Is it for their social benefits? Because they “save” students who are little interested in math or English? Because they teach tolerance for other viewpoints?

Why are we all for arts education?

I’d guess that many (most?) Arts Journal readers don’t even think about the why. We just know the arts are intrinsically wonderful. But are we making the best argument for arts in education?

Mark Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory University, doesn’t think so. In a recent post on his blog on Brainstorm, the group blog of The Chronicle of Higher Education, he offers “How Not to Save The Arts.” It refers, in turn, to an article he wrote for Education Next called “Advocating for the Arts in the Classroom.

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Judith H. Dobrzynski
Real Clear Arts


John Scarlett Davis, The Interior of the British Institution Gallery, Yale Center for British Art

People love mysteries — just look at book sales — and I always think that the art world should take more advantage of that thirst…That’s why I’m highlighting an exhibition that just started at the Yale Center for British Art.

“Seeing Double” is built around a 1829 painting called “Interior of the British Institution” by John Scarlett Davis. YCBA says Davis “sought to make a splash on the London art scene” with it. He made not only a visual puzzle but also “an exploration of the art world in the 1820s London.”

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Judith H. Dobrzynski
Real Clear Arts

In what some critics describe as a long overdue effort, the Museum of Modern Art in New York is this month publishing “Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art.” The 500-page book, in the works for more than four years, is the centerpiece of a larger initiative to shine a light on women artists. From last December through summer, 2011, MoMA’s curatorial departments are mounting 15 large and small exhibitions that highlight and temporarily increase the presence of works by women in the museum.

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Judith H. Dobrzynski
Pundicity

I attended a reception at the Museum of Modern Art for Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art. The event was heartening — many women in the art/museum world, and plenty of men, too, showed up to celebrate.

Still, I can’t help but think this is “too little, too late.” I wrote an article about the effort for the June issue of The Art Newspaper, which is out now. The story is not online — you have to go buy the paper, which is a fat 120 pages. It’s got to have something for everyone.

But here I’ll share a few things about Modern Women, some in the story and some in the outtakes…

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Judith H. Dobrzynski
Real Clear Arts


(Rose Art Museum/Brandeis University)

If you read the papers on Friday morning, before getting away for Memorial Day weekend, you know that Brandeis University has a new plan to raise money from the Rose Art Museum collection. The Boston Globe‘s article reveals that the administration has engaged Sotheby’s to explore “options other than sale” of works from the collection, as a way of plugging the university’s budget gap.

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Judith H. Dobrzynski
Real Clear Arts


Curator Lauren Ross with Valerie Hegarty’s Autumn on the Hudson Valley with Branches, 2009

If exhibition attendance were the sole measure of curatorial clout, Lauren Ross, 39, would rank almost as high as the chief curator of MoMA in the New York art world—and she doesn’t even work for a museum.

Her curatorial domain is the High Line, the elevated park that courses through New York’s meatpacking district from Chelsea to the West Village. Since section one (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street) opened in June 2009, it has attracted around two million visitors; if that pace continues, it could near MoMA’s 2008-09 total of 2.8 million. Although many visit for the greenery and the view, the park’s contemporary art installations are increasingly stealing the limelight.

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Judith H. Dobrzynski
The Art Newspaper

Feeling a little low? Ill even? Today Americans for the Arts announced and released its new National Arts Index, and you can see, the latest number isn’t good:

…I’m glad Americans for the Arts is trying something. It devised the National Arts Index by taking into account 76 “equal-weighted, national-level indicators of arts activity.” And the group says that makes it “one of the largest data sets about the arts industries ever assembled.”

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Judith H. Dobrzynski
Real Clear Arts