Passion Points: Arts/Culture
Last week, Michelle Obama made a cultural journey to New York . She attended the unveiling of the new American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as American Ballet Theater’s opening night gala at the Met. Before the curtain rose, she spoke about her and President Obama’s strong belief in supporting the arts. She said: “The arts are not just a nice thing to have or to do if there is free time or if one can afford it. Rather, paintings and poetry, music and fashion, design and dialogue, they all define who we are as a people and provide an account of our history for the next generation.” In these grim times of slashed budgets and lost funding, there is some good news coming out of the art world this summer. Against the odds, museums are celebrating debuts and expansions. Here are five not to miss on your travels this summer.
Punta della Dogana
Art lovers already flocking to Venice this June for the annual Biennale can also look forward to the opening of Francois Pinault’s newest contemporary art space. Housed in a former Grand Canal customs house (Pinault beat out the Guggenheim Foundation in the bidding on the right to turn it into a museum), the Punta della Dogana will show highlights of the French magnate’s massive collection and serve as an extension of his other contemporary art temple, Palazzo Grassi. The building’s gorgeous interiors were conceived by Japanese architect Tadao Ando and most of the galleries rooms have views of the canal. The debut exhibition, overseen by two energetic curators, Francesco Bonami and Alison Gingeras, features such big names as Paul McCarthy, Felix Gonzales Torres, Richard Prince, Cy Twombly and Rachel Whiteread. Punta della Dogana opens June 6, just in time for the Biennale crowd.
After numerous hold-ups and delays, the long-anticipated opening of the museum, originally scheduled to coincide with the Athens Olympics in 2004 is finally on target for June 20. Construction, spearheaded by New York–based architect Barnard Tschumi, has been ongoing since 2000. Sitting at the foot of the Parthenon, the museum will display some 4,000 artifacts including hundreds of marble sculptures from the old Acropolis Museum. The controversial Elgin Marbles (which were brought to London in the early 19th century by Lord Elgin) will not be seen in their entirety; rather the museum plans on mixing the originals that remain in Greece with plaster casts of the removed pieces. Tschumi’s building itself is a work of genius, according to New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff who writes: “By fusing sculpture, architecture and the ancient landscape into a forceful visual narrative, the New Acropolis Museum delivers a revelation that trumps all the tired arguments and incessant flag waving.”
NEW YORK, NY
New American Wing, Metropolitan Museum of Art (www.metmuseum.org)
Recently reopened after two years of renovation, the New American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum seems to have taken its inspired cues from the Greek and Roman galleries that were unveiled last year. The light-filled Charles Engelhard Court and twelve early American period rooms were painstakingly restored and reimagined with a newly constructed mezzanine-level balcony. It’s a beautiful showcase for the museum’s collection of American ceramics, sculpture, stained glass, silver, glass, and jewelry. The new balcony serves as a display for major recent acquisitions, including art pottery crafted between 1876 and 1956, which have never before been seen publicly.
Editor’s Pick: If you’re visiting New York this summer, it is also worth taking the hour-drive up the Hudson Valley to Storm King Art Center (www.stormking.org) a 500-acre park where sculptor and artist Maya Lin is showing her breathtaking “Swell: Storm King Wavefield.” Lin, most famous for the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., transformed 11 acres into a field of green waves, and visitors can walk through this earthy installation.
Modern Wing, Art Institute of Chicago
Designed by Renzo Piano, the new $294 million Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago has been generating serious buzz in the art world since it opened two weeks ago. New York Times architecture critic called it “the closest Mr. Piano has come in at least a decade to achieving this near-classical ideal;” F.N. d’Alessio raved “a triumph for [the] Pritzker Prize-winning architect” on the Huffington Post; the Chicago Tribune called it “a temple of light, in which carefully filtered sunlight will be as central to the visitor’s experience as steel, aluminum and Indiana limestone.” The 264,000-square-foot wing, the largest expansion in the museum’s history, houses its fantastic modern art, including the acclaimed Lindy and Edwin Bergman Collection. There’s also a gallery dedicated to changing exhibitions; currently on view, another master of light: Cy Twombly.
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO
New Mexico History Museum (www.nmhistorymuseum.org)
This $44-million museum opened in downtown Santa Fe on Memorial Day. Housed in a new building behind the historic Palace of the Governors (where the old History Museum was pushed into dark, crammed spaces for years), the museum will have light-filled, modern spaces in which to exhibit numerous artifacts and displays that tell the state’s colorful and rich history. There are even interactive exhibitions for children, like the room devoted to the Santa Fe Trail, which houses a replica of a broken-down covered wagon.
- Read about the Brant Foundation Art Study Center, newly opened in Connecticut
- Read an interview with Muriel Quancard-Johnson who leads tours to Venice for the Biennale
- Read about Indagare’s favorite art fairs
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