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12 minutes | 5 days ago
Episode 58: Thoughts on Deaccessioning
If after all the ink spilled on the topic of #deaccessioning, you’re still unclear what the fuss is about, here’s a short summary of the concerns of most art museum directors, excerpted from a presentation I recently made to the Federal Bar Association. We go back to the landmark decision in 1993 by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to restrict the proceeds of art sales to buying new art, the softening of its stance in 2019, and the temporary lifting of restrictions against the use of deaccessioning proceeds by the Association of Art Museum Directors. We recap the swirling external forces bearing down on art museums today regarding the monetization of collections, and I close with the hope that art museums won’t discard obligations to preserving our shared cultural heritage and will instead turn to philanthropy to address pressing needs from DEI to operating shortfalls.
27 minutes | 11 days ago
Episode 57: Dany Khosrovani
Dany Khosrovani tells the truth—truth in branding, marketing, and advertising. Founder in 2017 of The DKG Perspective, a consultancy for CEOs who are at crossroads, she previously spent decades at leading agencies including J. Walter Thompson, Bates Worldwide and Young & Rubicam, and her clients were top-tier companies. Oxford-trained, she shares a fresh and candid assessment of the need for a moral framework for museums, leadership challenges in the face of mounting public criticism of questionable business practices, shortcomings in addressing racial injustice, and the current wave of stated corporate concerns about issues like voter suppression. We touch on the “brands” of the UK and the US, and advice for museum directors and for corporate leaders, peppered with insights won over a brilliant career.
27 minutes | 19 days ago
Episode 56: Michael Shnayerson
In this episode we turn to an accomplished chronicler of our times. Michael Shnayerson is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and the author of eight books on a range of nonfiction subjects, including “Boom: Mad Money, Mega Dealers, and the Rise of Contemporary Art,” which lays bare secrets of the largest unregulated financial market in the world. His wide-ranging interests have taken him into multiple facets of the 20th century—including laboratories combating disease, Harry Belafonte’s recollections, a political dynasty, and most recently a page-turner about the notorious gangster Bugsy Siegel. He’s not done with the art world—we learn about a current collaboration with Alec Baldwin to delve into spectacular tales of modern art forgeries.
27 minutes | a month ago
Episode 55: Nina Diefenbach
Raising money to support the arts is demanding in the best of times—let alone during a pandemic, and when so many are focused on social and racial justice. Our guest Nina Diefenbach is Senior Vice President and Deputy Director for Advancement at @The_Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. A century ago, Dr. Barnes had an abiding commitment to supporting his African American employees and students at @LincolnUofPA, the nation's first degree-granting #HBCU, and we learn how the Barnes has adapted to the last year’s many challenges along with facets of its exceptional offerings.
32 minutes | a month ago
Episode 54: Dinah Casson
Museum directors and curators get the credit when exhibitions or collections open, but what about the museum designers? Look no further. We turn to one of the world’s leading exhibition designers, Dinah Casson. Her design partnership with Roger Mann since 1984, called Casson Mann, has completed high-profile assignments in the UK, US, Russia, Italy and the Middle East. We dip into her new book, titled Closed on Mondays: Behind the Scenes at the Museum, published by Lund Humphries in 2020, and learn about assignments from a proposed UNESCO museum of world heritage outside Turin, under the aegis of AEA Consulting, to the British galleries of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, to the Lascaux Cave in Montignac in the Dordogne.
28 minutes | a month ago
Episode 53: Nina Del Rio
We check in with Nina Del Rio, Vice Chairman, Americas, at Sotheby’s, for an inside look at how the art market performed during the past year. She concurs with recent assessments of a drop in market volume, but contends that the bottom line wasn’t as affected as all might assume. We delve into how objects make their way into private sales versus auctions, a farewell to printed auction catalogues, a surprising prediction about the future of glamorous in-person evening sales, the impact of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) in the art market, museums’ reassessments about mission affecting their participation in the market, and how AAMD’s loosened deaccessioning guidelines has revealed a deep divide among museum leaders regarding the disposition of funds realized from art sales. She also notes an increasing appetite among private collectors to be the stewards of their own holdings--or to insist on restrictions prohibiting deaccessioning.
25 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 52: Jerrilynn Dodds
There are endlessly conflicting views about cultural authority these days. For perspective we need an enlightened scholar to sort it out--and find her in Sarah Lawrence College Professor Jerrilynn Dodds. From the inapposite definitions of Islamic and “Western” art and architecture permeating our language, to the decolonization of the curriculum, we touch on Spain’s medieval history, the mythology of a common European identity, the misguided trope of American ‘exceptionalism’, why Hagia Sophia’s return to its function as a mosque should surprise or offend no one (she exuberantly dresses me down for singling it out as a political gesture), the social activism of today’s youth, her favorite state-sponsored architecture, and other kernels of good-humored wisdom. You’ll be amply rewarded, with no tuition bill to follow.
29 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 51: Franklin Sirmans
Miami is a harbinger of changing demographics in the United States, and we’re lucky to have as today’s guest Franklin Sirmans, director of Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), a modern and contemporary art museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting international art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Our conversation ranges from PAMM’s navigation of the pandemic to the impact of Black Lives Matter on art museums, the need for staff and boards to reflect a museum’s community, the representation of indigenous people in museum programming, reservations about deaccessioning as a path to diversifying collections, the shifting priorities of collection-building versus offering temporary experiences, and the stereotype of Miami and L.A. as sybaritic settings for culture.
30 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 50: Charles Saumarez Smith
We head to the UK to hear from Sir Charles Saumarez Smith about his new book The Art Museum in Modern Times. Former director of London’s National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery, and Royal Academy, he reflects on contests of authority bearing down on museum leaders, ranging from the influence of private wealth, to restitution claims, the assault on the canon of art history, and the failure of museums to address the legacy of slavery and prevailing discrimination. He discusses the preparation of future directors, purging endowments of investments in regressive industries, challenges to the primacy of permanent collections, the ‘anti-woke’ agenda of Boris Johnson’s government, the dearth of educational collaboration among museums online, the ascendancy of a commercial paradigm over public access, and his hopes for the future of museums.
29 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 49: Bruce Mau
Bruce Mau is a globally renowned problem-solver. In this episode we touch on some of his past and upcoming achievements, including a new documentary about his extraordinary influence in the design sector and beyond, to have its world premiere at the upcoming SXSW. We discuss his insights in Designing for the Five Senses, his new book MC24, his childhood in Canada, the origins of his landmark exhibition and publication Massive Change, memorable experiences of working with globally renowned leaders and innovators, and his thoughts on design practices and life as the pandemic recedes.
28 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 48: Lisa D. Freiman
Dr. Lisa Freiman reflects on the recent forced resignation of the chief executive of the Indianapolis Museum of Art (for now clinging to the nickname @newfields) along with her major exhibition of the work of Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, her role as Commissioner of the U.S. Pavilion in the 2011 Venice Biennale, which presented new works by Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, Alfredo Jaar’s extraordinary Park of the Laments in the 100-acre sculpture park she devised, and a recent project she curated at the University of Washington’s Hans Rosling Center for Population Health. Candid, insightful, and passionate, she addresses the institutional culture of art museums and encourages more resolve in tackling persistent discrimination and resistance to change.
30 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 47: Brian Ferriso
It's hard to run a museum at any time, let alone during a pandemic. In this episode we glean some wisdom from Brian Ferriso, long-serving director of the Portland Art Museum. We cover the recent spate of deaccessioning among museums, the quest for updated thinking about museum goals, his focus on contributed versus earned income, the need for strategy in making new acquisitions, some exhibitions that have resonated with his audience, and the particulars of running a museum in the Pacific Northwest, including obligations to the pursuit of social justice.
33 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 46: Veronica Roberts
Art museum directors are caught up in competing travails, from financial shortfalls to racial reckoning to ill-advised deaccessioning. But talented curators across the U.S. are still managing to bring artistic talent to the fore, and Veronica Roberts, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Blanton Museum of Art, is among the museum field’s most imaginative, capable, and humane. We retrace her steps at the leading museums in New York to her adopted state of Texas, with detours to artists’ studios, including those of Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, and Diedrick Brackens. And we touch on her use of Instagram to champion emerging artists as well as flora, fauna, and architecture.
32 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 45: Robert J. Stein
The digitally inclined will feast on this conversation with Robert Stein, among the art world’s most insightful and accomplished protagonists, who has conjured up and implemented innovative practices affecting museumgoers around the globe, both online and in person. We caught up with him during his first month as the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Deputy Director and Chief Experience Officer, and covered a host of topics, from virtual museum experiences during the pandemic to new research in the field, consulting enterprises offered by museums, online experiments that bore fruit, and a prediction about post-pandemic in-person conferences.
26 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 44: Susan Taylor
Museum directors are juggling more than ever before, and few as ably as Susan M. Taylor, the Montine McDaniel Freeman Director of the New Orleans Museum of Art since 2010. We retrace the beginning of her tenure, five years after Hurricane Katrina, and fast forward to the city’s appeal to international visitors, her 6 ½-acre expansion of the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, increased appointments of women museum directors, how she has addressed challenges in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, the need to balance art history with the art of our time, and her tenure as president of the Association of Art Museum Directors.
29 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 43: Rich Cherry
So you’re up all night, wondering: Should I build an art museum? Before you hire an architect, best to start by calling Rich Cherry, CEO of Museum Operations. He’s served as an executive director, COO, deputy director, CTO and CIO at several leading organizations, from the Albright-Knox to the Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC), and designed and built new museums and non-profits from the ground up, including the Broad Art Museum and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. He’s also co-chair of MuseWeb, the largest museum innovation and technology conference in the world, with about 800 attendees from more than 40 countries each year. We cover the real sources of museum revenue, retrofitting old buildings to limit their carbon footprint and load them up with connectivity, running private v. public museums, working with starchitects vs. architects, innocent (read unfounded) assumptions in the boardroom, how museum expansions sometimes make as much (aka as little) sense as building sports stadiums, and the challenges of coaxing museums to share data and technological innovations.
33 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 42: Jaime Michael Wolf
Nostalgic for a nation of laws, not of men? In eager anticipation of a Justice Department dedicated to something other than xenophobia and the promotion of imperial rule, we turn to intellectual property guru Jaime Michael Wolf, an attorney who sorts out claims and counter-claims involving publishers, artists and their estates, designers and even chefs. We cover social media’s damnation of memory issued to the soon-to-be-evicted tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, how copyright is adapting to everything from the Internet to tattoos, a clear definition of Fair Use, Justice Souter’s opinion in support of 2 Live Crew, which yielded the legal principle of “transformativeness”, a new small claims court in the Copyright Office, solutions to the proliferation of cybersquatting, phony Apple stores in China, and much more. After listening, you’ll be ready for the first post-pandemic cocktail party to show off newly acquired knowledge about IP and the arts.
27 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 41: A Look Back at 2020
“Be kind rewind” is what video rental stores used to implore their customers before VHS tapes were returned. Since the end of the year is finally here, we’re replaying memorable snippets from some of 2020’s guests on the podcast, along with some thoughts about the arts in the United States, as massive quantities of sage are being readied for cleansing 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and while we’re all lining up for a vaccine. With sincere thanks to all our guests, here’s to a new start in January.
34 minutes | 5 months ago
Episode 40: Christiane Paul
Art comes in all shapes and sizes--and sometimes it shows up on your screen. To separate the digital wheat from the chaff we turn to one of the world’s leading authorities in the field, Christiane Paul, author of Digital Art (Thames & Hudson), now in its 3rd edition. Prof. Paul is Director and Chief Curator of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center and Professor in the School of Media Studies at the New School in New York, and Adjunct Curator of Digital Art at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She conceived and has for two decades overseen both the Whitney’s artport website and its new media exhibitions, beginning with Data Dynamics in 2001. Her talk at Tate last year provides a concise history of the field. We dive into the origins of digital art, preserving Net Art, museum collaborations, augmented reality, collecting versus licensing content, how artists navigate the commercial colonization of the Web, and the complex boundaries between acts of protest and anti-social hacking.
32 minutes | 5 months ago
Episode 39: Brad W. Brinegar
Many museums have emulated commercial attractions over the last generation—and now find themselves struggling back to life during the pandemic with reduced buzz, attendance, and contributions. For solutions we go to the source: a top advertising expert, Brad Brinegar, Chairman of McKinney, to help get their messaging aligned with these exceptional circumstances. He is predictably averse to thinking of museums as commercial preserves, and instead prescribes clever ways of reaching audiences, drawing on his studies in anthropology, as well as sharing wisdom about how empathy motivates consumer behavior. We cover effective advertising, including the Sherwin-Williams Emerald Paint campaign, how McKinney is going about achieving greater diversity in his sector, tv spots that went viral on the web, why art and art history can’t catch a break on television, how streaming services are challenging his field, and along the way remember shared experiences at the Jack-O-Lantern, Dartmouth’s humor magazine, whose alumni range from Theodor Seuss Geisel to Budd Schulberg, Buck Henry, Robert Reich, and Mindy Kaling.
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