I've been traveling and will have some reports from outside Portland shortly but until then here are some interesting stories over the past few days.
This New York times article on the burden that the recent building expansion boom has put on institutions
is fascinating. Chicago's Art Institute expansion seems to be the emblematic case study as well. I visited it last week and I noticed that the article missed one key point about Chicago, that it was a way to tie the museum into Millennium Park... a part of that city's gamble for a Summer Olympics, which failed. Overall, the lesson to be gleaned is never expand without a suitable expansion in endowments... an old lesson that PAM's own arch-prudent Brian Ferriso knew well when he was Deputy Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum
. He was ahead of the curve back then and it is interesting how many institutions didn't use MAM's Calatrava expansion as a case study.
Tyler Green's take on MoCA's firing of Paul Schimmel
. Look, besides it's collection Schimmel was perhaps MOCA's second most valuable asset. Curators, especially great ones... are still persistently under-valued institutional assets.
Christopher Knight digs into the MOCA situation
Portland Architecture reports that Portland's GDP has risen more than some might suspect
. Overall though it isn't how much money... it is how it is used. For example, Portland has added a lot of excellence to the mix on an individual by individual basis but that has highlighted the difficulty in making consistent excellence a habit at the institutional level. The art schools, RACC, the museums and galleries are often revealed to be a step behind by very active artists (nationally and internationally) though all of them have improved significantly in the past decade or so. Most attempts to survey or award the scene have revealed that a lot of the institutional thinking is still thinking in terms of hierarchies in play in the 1990's. A lot has changed since then and it has lead to a schism between those artists with an international outlook and those who play the Portland game. The lesson is that if you cant adjust to the international game (PNCA and PAM have done this best with lots of room for improvement) then things have trouble remaining relevant and dont translate to the international realities at work in Portland.
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