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“The building is a real tour de force,” said Julia Peyton-Jones, the co-director of London’s Serpentine Gallery, of the new Museo Jumex in Mexico City. “David Chipperfield has created an oasis of calm and stillness which nestles in a challenging environment in the centre.”

The inauguration of Mexico City’s newest museum, Museo Jumex, was celebrated on Saturday, 16 November by thousands of VIP guests that included a veritable Who’s Who of the art world. Reactions from international figures have been overwhelmingly positive.

The museum’s new home, a blocky travertine marble building designed by the British architect David Chipperfield, stands right beside the odd, anvil-shaped Soumaya museum, founded by Carlos Slim Helú, the world’s richest man. Jumex is entirely financed by Fundación Jumex, created by Eugenio López Alonso, the heir to a fruit juice and food canning fortune and a major collector of contemporary art with holdings of some 2,700 works.


Georgina Adam
The Art Newspaper


The proposed design for the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum (via Lucas Cultural Arts Museum)

Filmmaker George Lucas’ plan for a Beaux Arts-style art museum for the Bay Area is under the scrutiny of the public this week through the Presidio Trust, which will determine whether his dream of a museum where the digital arts meet the history of illustration will be there or if he’ll relocate it to Chicago. That last spiteful move is in response to the conflict he’s already had in trying to get through the Presidio Trust for his museum, for which he’s up for giving $700 million of his own funds. As he told the New York Times: “They made us jump through hoops to explain why a museum was worth having. […] I thought a museum was a concept that people already bought into about 200 years ago. They’re having us do as much work as we can hoping that we will give up.”

Whether or not the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum makes it through the drama, it’s one of several American art museums on the horizon.


Allison Meier

Fitzwilliam museum
The Fitzwilliam in Cambridge was one of the museums burgled last year. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Nineteen people have been arrested around the country in an operation involving 26 police forces in connection with a spate of thefts of artefacts worth millions from museums and auction houses.

The 17 men and two women were held in dawn raids involving hundreds of police around England and Northern Ireland. The operation, which follows a pan-European investigation, also involved officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

The arrests were connected to six thefts over a four-month period last year: three at Durham Museum and the others at a Norwich museum, the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge and at Gorringes auction house in Lewes, East Sussex. Items stolen included Chinese antiquities worth more than £15m and a rhinoceros horn.

Five men aged between 20 and 54 and two women, 28 and 54, were arrested in London, four men aged 24 to 56 were held in Cambridgeshire, and two, aged 28 and 46, in Essex. A 60-year-old man was arrested in Sussex, a 32-year-old man was arrested in the West Midlands and a 67-year-old man was arrested in Nottingham. Three men have been arrested in Northern Ireland.

Cambridgeshire police, leading the operation, said all of those arrested were being held on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle, except the 54-year-old woman who was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and assisting an offender.

Chief Constable Mick Creedon, the lead officer for serious organised crime at the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: “The series of burglaries last year had a profound effect on museums and similar institutions and we are committed to bringing all those who were involved in the conspiracy to justice.


James Meikle
The Guardian

The Astrup Fearnley museum terminates Oslo’s dockside promenade with a swoop

“Art makes people better people,” says Renzo Piano, “and a place for art makes the city a better place to be.”

He is speaking at the opening of the Astrup Fearnley Museum on theOslo waterfront, a new £65m home for the private art collection of ashipping company, which he describes as “an open forum, where art meets life”.

Piano should know about such things. The 74-year-old has designed 17museums and art galleries across the world in his long career, ranging from the revolutionary vertical art factory of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, built with Richard Rogers in 1977, to the refined, low-slung shed of the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, constructed 10 years later, to the delicate lightbox of the Fondation Beyeler, erected outside Basel in 1997. Each decade brought a seminal new building that changed the way architects think about spaces for art, cementing Piano’s reputation as a global brand for big museums.

“I see Astrup Fearnley as completing the cycle, almost coming back to the beginning,” he tells me, as we sit in the upper gallery, looking out across the fjord – a picture-postcard view dotted with islands and sailing boats.

“The Pompidou was a rebellion against the idea of a monumental gallery. We were the bad boys then,” he grins. “We didn’t want to make a mausoleum to art. Instead, we created a big piazza for the people, and here in Oslo we have returned to that idea.”

Right on the waterfront, the museum takes the form of a vast glass sail that arcs over to envelop three timber buildings beneath, separated by a canal and terminating the dockside promenade in a consciously iconic swoop. Unlike many of his previous galleries, which take the form of finely tuned if somewhat anonymous containers, Astrup Fearnley is here to play the role of glamorous civic saviour – the cultural anchor for a whole new urban quarter.


Oliver Wainwright

The Barnes Foundation’s new downtown “campus” designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects

After all the Sturm und Drang surrounding the Barnes Foundation’s relocation to downtown Philadelphia, what has emerged? What has been lost and what has been gained?

The institutional narrative of the Barnes has been overshadowed by the tortured events that led up to the decision to relocate the galleries from the Philadelphia suburbs, seven years ago, a topic of seemingly inexhaustible debate. Art-world chatter before the 19 May reopening was preoccupied with an unusual design directive for the building. During the court proceedings, Barnes officials had promised a historically faithful rehang of the objects in the new space, replicating the idiosyncratic configuration that Albert Barnes last saw before his demise at the age of 79, in a car crash, in 1951.

For Barnes, a man possessed of an obdurate will and an eccentric approach to art, it was not just the objects in his astounding collection that mattered but their combined teaching value. The sprawling salon-style ensemble in his 1925 neoclassical mansion in Merion, Pennsylvania, amounted to a finely calibrated pedagogical Gesamtkunstwerk. Masterpieces by Van Gogh, Cézanne, Matisse, Renoir and Picasso mingled on the walls along with decidedly lesser works, handmade locks and hinges, more than a few copies and misattributed objects, eclectic furniture and artful bric-à-brac—all studiously placed to make points about the nature of light, colour, beauty and form.

This may have been the collector’s real legacy, and the new Barnes, whatever else it did, had to honour it.


András Szántó
The Art Newspaper

The Museum (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

Tucked away on Cortlandt Alley, a small side street that is itself tucked away between Tribeca and Chinatown, there’s a small, glowing, storefront space. It gleams pristinely like a cross between a brand-new grocery store and an art gallery, but the objects on display aren’t for sale. In fact, this is Manhattan’s latest self-ascribed museum — titled, simply, The Museum.

The Museum does not house artworks, fashion or fossils; instead, it showcases bits and pieces of the everyday: a pile of broken glass from New York City, a plastic glove from Paradise Valley, Montana, a hot water coil heater from Kaunus, Lithuania. There are also some more traditionally notable offerings, such as the shoe thrown at George W. Bush at the Minister’s Palace in Baghdad in 2008 or a series of objects (driver’s license, cell phone, comb) salvaged from the Pacific Ocean by deep-sea diver Mark Cunningham. “A smart man’s garbage is a foolish man’s fortune & vice versa,” reads the Museum’s mission statement. “There is always beauty and magic in the plebeian.”


Jillian Steinhauer

Seattle Art Museum’s Hammering Man: an institution hit hard by the financial crisis is now in recovery

Leading US museums are finally in recovery mode and their directors are much more optimistic about the financial outlook than a year ago, but few are feeling bullish. Endowments may have increased but they have not regained their peak of 2007. Of the ten richest museums we surveyed, seven were within sight of their previous levels, but the wealthiest, the Getty Trust, is only a third of the way to the $1.8bn it lost during the downturn (see table, p10). The road to financial health will be long for all but a fortunate few, and many fear that the economic recovery may prove short-lived. Nevertheless, many directors describe themselves as “cautiously optimistic”.

Thomas Campbell, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, remembers spending his first six months making 10% cuts in 2009. “It was all quite tough. We did what we needed to do,” he says. Seventy-four members of the professional staff were made redundant, and 95 took early retirement. His outlook is much more positive, buoyed by a return in the value of the endowment, booming attendance figures (see p35) and major donations, including $60m from a trustee, David Koch, announced in February. “I don’t want to tempt fate but the situation seems better,” says Campbell, who revealed that the museum raised more than the $100m it needed to renovate its wing of American art, which reopened in January.


Javier Pes and Helen Stoilas

The Art Newspaper

How the Abu Dhabi Guggenheim would look. But will it be built?

It was billed as an unprecedented cluster of cultural glory that would transform Abu Dhabi into the Paris of the Middle East: three centrepiece museums, including the world’s largest Guggenheim and a branch of the Louvre, designed by “starchitects” to rise up among a complex of five-star beach resorts and luxury villas on Saadiyat island in Abu Dhabi.

But six years after the project was unveiled, while several five-star resorts have opened, the only visible signs of the complex are an illuminated model in an exhibition centre near a windswept desert construction site.

Repeated delays and financial concerns have diminished the impact of the scheme, say project insiders and art experts, and some now believe the emirate has no option but to scale back its grandiose plans, possibly even scrapping the Guggenheim museum.

Those concerns have been compounded by reports of the mistreatment of migrant workers labouring on the £17bn Saadiyat island complex and worries about whether the art ultimately put on display will be subjected to censorship by the conservatives who hold sway in this part of the world.

Verena Formanek, senior project manager for the Abu Dhabi Guggenheim, admitted it was still a distant prospect. “The light’s on the horizon when the Louvre Abu Dhabi opens. I think that’s the first time I will really feel more secure because then I will see a museum is really open here and this will change a lot.”

But she added: “Really, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is far away.”


David Batty

Berggruen is focusing on German and West Coast artists, including Chris Burden, whose Metropolis II (right) is already on loan to Lacma from the collector

The private collector and billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, son of the late German-Jewish art dealer and philanthropist Heinz Berggruen, is set to follow in the footsteps of the collector Eli Broad by sending several works on long-term loans to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma), where Berggruen is a trustee. “I’m building up a collection for Lacma,” he says, “focusing on German artists such as Thomas Schütte, Martin Kippenberger, Gerhard Richter and Joseph Beuys.” Works by West Coast artists such as John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Charles Ray, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman and Mike Kelley from Berggruen’s collection are also due to end up at the museum. “Los Angeles is still a developing cultural centre and that’s why one can make a difference there,” he says. His father, Heinz Berggruen, sold his collection of modern masterpieces for $120m—one-tenth of its value—to Berlin in 2000. There is now a museum in the city to house these holdings.


Gareth Harris
The Art Newspaper

Not many museum directors have the opportunity Dean Sobel has—which is nothing short of the chance to rewrite a chapter of American art history.

As the first director of the Clyfford Still Museum, set to open in Denver on Nov. 18, Mr. Sobel will be reintroducing a first-generation Abstract Expressionist who abruptly severed his ties to the commercial art world in 1951 and rarely showed or sold his works after that. A few museums own some of his works—massive canvases of ragged swaths of black and a primary color that resemble rawhide—but his last large exhibition was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1979-80. Nearly 95% of Still’s output has been locked away for decades. At the Museum of Modern Art’s Abstract Expressionist exhibition earlier this year, which had roomfuls of works by Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Barnett Newman, Still was represented by one painting.

Mr. Sobel, who has spent the past six years studying the hidden trove—825 paintings and 1,575 works on paper—is convinced that Still is not only a giant of Abstract Expressionism, but also the first of the breed. “We are going head to head with Rothko, Pollock, de Kooning and Newman,” he says. “The goal for us is to put Still back in, to show the greatness of him and that he was the great innovator of the movement. He creates Abstract Expressionism before all the others.”


Judith H. Dobrzynski
Wall Street Journal