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Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Charnley-Persky House (image via

Next month, the very first sunken conversation pit will open to the public as a museum. The Indianapolis Museum of Art plans to open a private residence designed by Eero Saarinen for industrialist J. Irwin Miller as a design and architecture showcase, featuring interiors (and the conversation pit) by Alexander Girard.

To celebrate, we’ve collected the best of American’s modernist houses turned museums, magnificent private residences now made public. There’s Philip Johnson’s Glass House, of course, but also Richard Neutra’s Neutra VDL, Louis Sullivan’s early Charnley-Persky House and Richard Meier’s epic bachelor pad, the Rachofsky House.


Kyle Chayka


It’s pretty unusual for a living artist to have his or her own museum. But that honor is going to William Eggleston, known as the father of color photography as an art form.

Eggleston, 71, is lucky to be from Memphis, which is home to a museum for Elvis and to Stax, a museum for American soul music. Two years ago, a group of local philanthropists decided that giving Eggleston a museum would be good not only for him but also for the city. Together, members of the group have pledged more than $5 million to start the ball rolling.


Judith H. Dobrzynski
Real Clear Arts

A parking lot at Second Street and Grand Avenue across the street from Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles is the area where Eli Broad would like to build an art museum. (Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times)

A potential roadblock to Eli Broad’s plans for a downtown museum housing his contemporary art collection sprang up Thursday while he was en route to securing approval to plant a $100-million facility on publicly owned land.

The commissioners of the city Community Redevelopment Agency OKd Broad’s plan 4-0, but suddenly now vying for consideration is a rival plan to build a 3,000-seat theater and training center for a tradition-steeped Chinese performing arts company on the same parcel at Grand Avenue and 2nd Street. Behind the proposal is Shen Yun Performing Arts, which has brought shows to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Orange County Performing Arts Center and other major venues and says it will stage more than 400 performances this year in 30 countries.


Mike Boehm
Los Angeles Times

Wayne Clough, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, detailed a plan on Monday to transform the 1881 Arts and Industries building into an education center, with programming that would emphasize the four themes outlined in the Smithsonian’s new strategic plan: biodiversity and sustainability, the American experience, exploring the universe, and valuing world cultures. The Arts and Industries building, which in the past housed temporary exhibits and has been empty since 2004, needs $65 million in structural renovations, according to Linda St. Thomas, the Smithsonian’s spokeswoman. On Monday, the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents reviewed a concept design for the building by the Los Angeles-based architecture firm Morphosis; its potential cost has not been determined, Ms. St. Thomas said. The Arts and Industries building has also been discussed as a possible site for a future national Latino museum. A presidential commission is currently studying the potential for such a museum.

Kate Taylor
New York Times

Bucking the downward trend that has plagued the boardrooms of most museums during the recession, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art announced Thursday that it has raised $250 million over the last several months, allowing it to double the size of its endowment and put $150 million toward an ambitious expansion.

The expansion is necessary partly because the museum is to be the home of the extensive art collection of Don and Doris Fisher, co-founders of the Gap clothing chain, who announced in September, shortly before Mr. Fisher’s death, that they would lend their works to the museum instead of placing them in a museum of their own they had planned to build in San Francisco’s Presidio park.


Randy Kennedy
New York Times

Study finds that visitors to a museum housing ancient art tended to describe their experience in cognitive terms, while those at a modern art museum were more likely to report they were emotionally engaged. Photo: Ed Schipul/Flickr

Viewing works of art engages both the mind and heart. But whether a museum visit is primarily an intellectual or an emotional activity depends upon the type of art on display, and the era in which it was created.

That’s the conclusion of a study from the University of Rome, just published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts. The research team, led by Stefano Mastandrea, reports that visitors to a museum housing ancient art tended to describe their experience in cognitive terms, while those at a modern art museum were more likely to report they were emotionally engaged.

The researchers surveyed 137 visitors to two lesser-known art museums in the city of Rome: The Braschi, which features work from the mid-1500s to the mid-1800s, and the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, which contains work dating from the late 19th to the mid-20th century. Participants leaving the museums filled out questionnaires in which they described their motivation for visiting that day and answered questions designed to determine what personality profile they fit into.

The majority of visitors at both museums were women, although those at the modern art museum were on average 10 years younger than those at the ancient art museum. Education levels at the two locations were quite similar.

Asked their motives for visiting the museum, visitors at both institutions gave similar answers: The top reason was either “interest in the artists” or “to see the artworks in the original.” More interesting were the second-most-frequent responses: At the modern art museum, patrons listed “the pleasure they feel during their visit,” while at the ancient art museum, they chose “the desire for cultural enrichment.”


Tom Jacobs


Rocked by a budget crisis, Brandeis University will close its Rose Art Museum and sell off a 6,000-object collection that includes work by such contemporary masters as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Nam June Paik.

The move shocked local arts leaders and drew harsh criticism from the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries. Rose Art Museum director Michael Rush declined comment this evening, saying he had just learned of the decision.

Brandeis is also discussing a range of sweeping proposals to bridge a budget deficit that could be as high as $10 million, such as reducing the size of the faculty by 10 percent, increasing undergraduate enrollment by 12 percent to boost tuition revenue, and overhauling the undergraduate curriculum by eliminating individual academic programs in favor of larger, interdisciplinary divisions.

Other plans under consideration include requiring students to take one summer semester, allowing the university to expand its student body without overcrowding, and adding a business program. The changes would take place, at the earliest, in 2010.

“This is not a happy day in the history of Brandeis,” President Jehuda Reinharz said tonight. “The Rose is a jewel. But for the most part it’s a hidden jewel. It does not have great foot traffic and most of the great works we have, we are just not able to exhibit. We felt that, at this point given the recession and the financial crisis, we had no choice.”

Brandeis said the museum would be closed late this summer. It was founded in 1961; a new wing designed by celebrated architect Graham Gund was added in 2001.

Announcement of the closing came as Rush was searching for a chief curator. A leading expert on video art, he had arrived in 2005 with plans to expand the museum. He also launched a full scale analysis of the museum’s value by Christie’s auction house. Dennis Nealon, the university’s director of public relations, would not say how much the collection is worth.

Experts on university art collections said the move was unusual, but not unexpected.

“Clearly, what’s happening with Brandeis now is that they decided the easiest way is to look around the campus and find things that can be capitalized,” said David Robertson, a Northwestern University professor who is president of the Association of College and Univertsity Museums and Galleries. “It’s always art that goes first.”

But there is no precedent for selling an art collection of the Rose’s stature. Internationally recognized, the collection is strong in American art of the 1960s and 1970s and includes works by Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Morris Louis, and Helen Frankenthaler.

“I’m in shock,” said Mark Bessire, the recently named director of the Portland Museum Of Art. “And this is definitely not the time to be selling paintings, anyway. The market is dropping. I’m just kind of sitting here sweating because I can’t imagine Brandeis would take that step.”

Geoff Edgers and Peter Schworm
Boston Globe