15 tips for traveling in Seattle, Washington

25 05 2014

I recently traveled to Seattle for the American Alliance of Museums Annual Conference, and in my downtime I made the effort to get to know this ‘Emerald City’ on the sound. Seattle itself has a population a little over 600,000, but its metropolitan area comes in at over 3 million. It feels similar to both Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado in both size and attitude. It’s casual with a touch of urban, and boasts great food, music, and beer. What’s not to like?

10374070_10154175521310068_2266983958889457939_n Read the rest of this entry »





Endings and beginnings

23 03 2014

IMG_1221 All beginnings end, leading to new beginnings. The job I consider the beginning of my museum career comes to an end this month. Next month I begin a new job at the University of Colorado Art Museum.

I am thankful for the opportunities for professional and personal development my job at the Denver Art Museum allowed. I will forever be in debt to the mentors that took me on – I could spend a lifetime learning from them. Most of all, I’m thankful for the one who finally pushed me out of the nest. Read the rest of this entry »





BREAKING: The Met Returns Two Khmer Statues to Cambodia, Citing Clear Evidence Of Looting

10 05 2013

Glad to see leaders of the Museum world doing what’s right. Check out this blog by the authors of Chasing Aphrodite that explains the most recent works the Metropolitan has agreed to repatriate to Cambodia.

CHASING APHRODITE

DP212330-1UPDATE: The New York Times reported May 15 that Cambodia is also planning to ask for the return of a statue of Hanuman at the Cleveland Museum of Art. This is in addition to the Norton Simon Bhima and the Denver Rama we’ve written about previously, which Cambodian officials also want returned. All are said to have been taken from the same temple complex at Koh Ker. Neither Cleveland nor Denver would disclose the origins or collecting histories of the contested statues.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has agreed to return two ancient Khmer statues to Cambodia after reviewing clear evidence that they were looted. Here’s Jason’s story in Friday’s LA Times:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has agreed to return two ancient statues to Cambodia after receiving convincing evidence they had been looted and smuggled out of the country illegally.

The 10th century Khmer statues, known as the Kneeling Attendants, have flanked the…

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Thesis vs. The-real-world

21 03 2013

It’s humbling to find that the research I was doing for my thesis three years ago was, in fact, relevant and timely. Props to my thesis committee chair Pat Kociolek for pushing me in the right direction! In this year’s Museums special section of the New York Times there are multiple articles addressing museums’ struggle to stay relevant with changing audiences. Especially art museums.

This article in particular caught my attention: “Museums look for ways to groom repeat visitors”.  So much of what I found in my research  is echoed in this article. I hope art museums listen; audiences are changing, and so are their expectations. Perhaps we in the art world should look more seriously at the success of science museums and aquariums. After all, are we really that different? I don’t think so.

And way to go Denver Art Museum for getting a shout out in the New York Times!

(^That’s the Denver Art Museum’s director, Christoph Heinrich!)





Art World Shenanigan Post 4 – Museum Basement Finds

8 06 2012

Today we began cleaning out a storage area in the basement of the Museum office building. Here are some of the gems we discovered:

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Good book alert: Chasing Aphrodite

5 03 2012

Who knew the antiquities market was so dirty? Or that art museums had such an appetite for stolen goods?

I recently finished Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museums by Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino. This book expands upon a series of Pulitzer Prize nominated exposés Felch and Frammolino wrote for the Los Angeles Times in 2006. The Getty Museum and its Board, Director, and antiquities curators were the focus of the original articles, and the central focus of the book as well. However, the Met and many other museums are not spared scrutiny in this eye-opening book.

While this book is not comprehensive of looted antiquities worldwide, its focus on the struggles with Italian and Greek antiquities looting is in-depth and extraordinary. Appropriately, the authors pin the blame for the looted antiquities trade (that flourished into the 1990’s) among all parties involved: art museum curators that failed to properly research objects provenance, art museum boards that pretended they weren’t approving the purchase of stolen objects, antiquities dealers for brings the objects to market, collectors for knowingly buying stolen objects, the looters themselves, and the Italian and Greek governments for failed efforts to guard antiquities. The authors also chronicle the changes made by US museums and the Italian government that has all but shutdown the illegal antiquities market.

Despite being a non-fiction book, the authors make it read like a novel.By the end of it, you’ll have felt a myriad of emotions for the embattled antiquities curator at the center of the Getty’s woes; she had the world on a platter, and lost it all because of hubris and carelessness.

If you’re interested in current looting issues, be sure to read this February 28,2012 New York Times article. Sotheby’s Auction House pulled a 1000 year old Cambodian warrior from its spring 2011 auction after it became clear that the object had a fake provenance and was in fact, looted.





Museum ‘Money Bombs’?

29 02 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot about fundraising lately (it’s kind-of my job.) My organization (DAM Contemporaries) is  discussing, like so many others, how to effectively fundraise in a changing world. And I’m not just talking about the economic climate, although it’s certainly a central issue. I’m talking about crowd-sourcing.

We can no longer ignore the power of crowd-sourced fundraising. From the ongoing success of political candidates’ ‘money bombs’ to the meteoric rise of Kickstarter it’s time non-profits took notice and learned how to bridle this power for themselves.

Take Ron Paul: his January 2012 money bomb raised $1.7 million over just one weekend. That’s serious money.

Or take Kickstarter: it is expected to provide more funding to the arts than the NEA this year.* That’s serious funding.

While non-profits cannot utilize Kickstarter itself, what is keeping us from creating money bomb fundraising campaigns in the same vein as Kickstarter? Donors love to know where their money is going, and what better way to show them exactly what they are funding than to define a very specific project for them to contribute to, at whatever level they are comfortable with?

The underlying paradigm shift here is that we could be continuing to democratize the arts with this shift in fundraising, much as I’ve already talked about with curating.

Museum peeps, what are your thoughts? Should museums try to money bomb?

*Read about this particular topic on this blog post from Talking Points Memo.

Updated 3/8/12:

The American Association of Museums Trendswatch 2012 just came out with a feature on crowd-sourced fundraising, or as they call it ‘crowdfunding’. Check out the report here: http://futureofmuseums.org/reading/publications/upload/TrendsWatch2012.pdf You’ll find the article on crowdfunding on page 14.








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