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MOCCA's master plan: a modern museum for a global city
TORONTO, CANADA – It took until December, but a small recent development seems to prove that Chantal Pontbriand, she of London (at the Tate Modern), Paris (at the Sorbonne), Montreal (home base) and many points in between — Venice, Athens, Munich — has finally rooted in Toronto. The clincher? A 647 mobile phone number. "I just got it a couple of weeks ago," laughed Pontbriand recently. "It's a nice thing, really. It feels like I'm from there now." More convincing, perhaps, was the news this fall that Pontbriand, an international contemporary art curator and critic in perpetual motion, had been plucked as the first ever CEO and director of the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art [MOCCA], set to reopen in 2017 in a dramatic new space.
In 2009, in close consultation with MOCCA’s leadership, Lord Cultural Resources led the Museum through a Strategic Planning exercise, which is now serving as a blueprint for a sustainable and successful future for MOCCA. Upon successful completion of the Strategic Plan, in 2010 Lord Cultural Resources was invited to conduct a Board Development Strategy, as part of the Museum’s efforts to fulfill its strategic goals. Working with MOCCA’s leadership, we developed a strategy to ensure a sustainable and strengthened Board that will enable the Museum to transition into its next phase of growth. In 2013 Lord Cultural Resources was engaged to prepare a business plan and projections associated with its new site.
The Year of Giving Culturally
TORONTO, CANADA – A change of leadership, both at City Hall and in Ottawa, gave new hope to art lovers. From concerts to theatre, visual arts to special exhibits, community events to weekend festivals, the hope was rewarded with a daily mix of cultural offerings. No matter your interests – Andy Warhol, Prince, Douglas Coupland, Taylor Swift, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Blue Jays, pandas – there was something for everyone.... Culture as democratic history: The city was home to many spectacular exhibits this year, including Magna Carta: Law, Liberty and Legacy at Fort York National Historic Site. It gave citizens exposure to the 800-year-old document and the ideas at the heart of Western society.
[See also #MagnaCartaTO Votes! Who Did You Vote For Most Notable Torontonian/Canadian, You Tube, 22 December 2015]
Magna Carta multimedia exhibition toured some of the most well-known, iconic, heritage institutions across Canada in 2015. It started its Canadian tour at the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa on June 11 and concluded at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on December 29, 2015. It attracted 69,733 visitors in total. Lord Cultural Resources has designed, developed and organized the tour for this travelling exhibition on behalf of Magna Carta Canada.
In Hong Kong, Fears for an Art Museum
HONG KONG, CHINA — At the waterfront site destined for a vast new center for the arts here, the view across Victoria Harbor is one to marvel at — an urban jungle of high-rises that together make up the city's famous skyline. The vista from the other side of the harbor could not be more different. Mostly barren land. A small construction zone. Some temporary buildings. And a sign announcing in big orange capital letters: "West Kowloon Cultural District." This is where a "museum of visual culture" called M+ (for "museum plus") is scheduled to be built as a key part of the new complex, a mammoth government-sponsored project budgeted at $2.8 billion. By the end of 2019, according to the current timeline, many of the area's components, including the 650,000-square-foot museum, will be ready to open to the public. But as plans for M+ move forward, questions are mounting about whether the original vision — a wide-ranging art museum that would put Hong Kong on the global cultural map — can ever be fully realized.
In 2009, Lord Cultural Resources was contracted with Mott MacDonald Hong Kong Ltd. for the Development Plan of West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) in Hong Kong. Our role has been to provide programming, operational and business planning input on the visual arts components: M+, a cultural institution with museum functions on visual culture of the 20th and 21st centuries, its related off-site collection storage facility, and a self-financed Exhibition Centre. The four themes for M+ include Design, Moving Image, Popular Culture, and Visual Arts. The moving image theme will extend to the outdoors as an outdoor cinema. In addition, Lord Cultural Resources was the visual arts facility planning advisors on two of the three new architectural Concept Plan teams: and Foster + Partners‘ development of the Master Plan for the entire cultural district. The WKCD site is to grow and develop organically. Its final phase is planned to be completed by 2045.
Residents weigh in on plans to memorialize Lumpkin's Slave Jail
RICHMOND, USA – As the city wraps up the public engagement portion of its effort to develop a plan to memorialize Lumpkin's Slave Jail, advocates have continued their calls for a broader approach to recognizing Richmond's role in the slave trade. The Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality announced late last week that 10 local, state and national groups are backing their proposal for a 9-acre memorial garden and the creation of a historic district in Shockoe Bottom. Among those groups are the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Virginia, the Richmond Branch NAACP and the Richmond Crusade for Voters. Ana Edwards, a leader with the Defenders, said the city's focus on Lumpkin's is "insufficient for telling the whole story of one of the most important physical sites for understanding the history of black people in this country and the development of this country as a whole."
Lord Cultural Resources has been assisting the Slave Trail Commission in telling the story of the Enslavement and Freedom Heritage Sites in Richmond, VA. Lumpkin's Jail Site is one of the Richmond's historical places highlighting the story of slavery.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights is
WINNIPEG, CANADA – The cultural good news story of the year has to be the astounding success of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. Just 15 months after opening its doors at the city's historic Forks location, the museum dreamed up by the late Izzy Asper is on a roll. It has clearly lived up to its motto of "Reach for the stars." The museum is exceeding attendance targets, drawing tourists and boosting the prairie city's economy. Its target for annual attendance was 250,000, but in its first year it drew 400,000. Meanwhile, it has won 24 international, national and regional awards. Earlier this month, the museum won the National Cultural Tourism Award in Ottawa (as chosen by Canada's tourism industry association). And on the same day it came first on the list of Canada's seven best-looking buildings compiled by Travel.com, a website offering advice to Australian globetrotters.
Lord Cultural Resources has worked with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights since 2000. We have helped to develop the concept and to craft the three-volume Master Plan and business plan, provided the space program, assisted with the international architectural competition that selected Antoine Predock to design the building, and organized and facilitated the cross Canada consultation process that gathered human rights stories from thousands of Canadians in 19 cities. We have continued to provide advisory services to Board and senior management on all aspects of implementation, content and the inauguration.
Museum of the future: tool of soft power?
INTERNATIONAL – In 1990, the American professor Joseph Nye developed, in his book Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power, the idea of "soft power". Used in the field of international relations, this concept describes the ability of a political actor to influence indirectly – by means of structural, cultural or ideological – and without coercion, the behaviour of other actors. Twenty-five years later, Gail Dexter Lord -co-founder and co-president of Lord Cultural Resources– and Ngaire Blankenberg – senior consultant at Lord Cultural Resources -proposed an update of the concept of soft power, by operating in particular a displacement of its scope ("Cities, Museums and Soft Power", The AAM Press, 2015). Art Media Agency met Gail Dexter Lord for more information.
Paradigm Shift, Soft Power &Creativity
AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS – This year's Hands On! Conference of the International Association of Children in Museums was held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on 13-16 October. Keynote speakers are an important feature of any conference. They attract participants and set the tone for the event. In this case, the first speaker was Gail Lord, who talked about children in the city and about her book Cities, Museums and Soft Power – a new publication in which she and fellow museum planner Ngaire Blankenberg demonstrate why and how museums and cities are using their ‘soft power' to address some of the most important issues of our time. They define soft power as the exercise of influence through attraction, persuasion and agenda-setting rather than military or economic coercion. In the book, fourteen of the world's leading museum and cultural experts explore examples of the many facets of soft power in museums worldwide: how they amplify civic discourse, promote resilience, accelerate cultural change, and contribute to contextual intelligence among the great diversity of city dwellers, visitors and policy-makers.
The book "Cities, Museums and Soft Power" by Gail Lord and Ngaire Blankenberg discusses how cities, museums and citizens can work together to increase their influence over the city's agenda using "soft power". Soft power is the exercise of influence through attraction, persuasion and agenda-setting rather than military or economic coercion. The book includes essays written by 14 cultural experts, drawing on museums in cities in Italy, Spain, the UK, China, Egypt, India, Canada, the USA and others. Cities, Museums and Soft Power can be ordered online.
The cultural sector wields considerable soft power and has a big role to play in a world that is moving toward a knowledge economy. Presented below are stories that show soft power at work.
China Headlines: China seeks to make cities better places to live in
BEIJING, CHINA – China has detailed its urban planning vision, which has been designed to make its sprawling cities more inclusive, safer and better places to live. In a statement released after the Central Urban Work Conference, which ran from Dec. 20 to Dec. 21 and was attended by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, policymakers pledged to transform urban development patterns and improve city management.
Museum of American Diplomacy to Open in 2017
USA – Consider this: There are more than 400 museums in the U.S. that celebrate the history of the military. But not a single one devoted to American diplomacy. That's about to change. A new museum celebrating the history of American diplomacy is being built at the U.S. Department of State. The U.S. Diplomacy Center (USDC) will feature 238 years of American diplomatic history, as well as an education area for students interested in diplomatic careers.
Top Russian Honour For Science Museum Head
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – It was surprising to see Plymouth native Ian Blatchford in the third row, waiting to receive the Medal of Pushkin for achievements in arts and culture at the Russian equivalent of a Buckingham Palace investiture. "I can't remember the last time anyone from the UK was awarded one of these things," an onlooker whispered in my ear.
Mapping 65 Years of Explosive Urban Growth
INTERNATIONAL – In 1950, only 30 percent of the world's population lived in cities, compared with 54 percent in 2015. A new map by urban geographer Duncan Smith tracks the bursts in city populations that contributed to this growth. Here's Smith on the implication of global urbanization patterns, in a guide to his interactive data viz: "Our increasingly urban world now frames many of society's greatest challenges. From global equality to health, education, prosperity and, not least, sustainability, solutions need to be interwoven with fostering livable, efficient and inclusive cities."
The Broad museum set to hit new milestone
LOS ANGELES, USA – The museum is on track to receive 200,000 visitors by the end of 2015. In its first 12 weeks, The Broad reported it drew 177,264 visitors. Unfortunately, if you’re not much of a planner, advance reservations are booked into March. Reservations are encouraged, but not required. Same-day tickets are available on-site.
$40 Million MoMA Gift from Kenneth C. Griffin Brings Naming Rights to Johnson Wing
NEW YORK, USA – The Museum of Modern Art has announced one of the largest monetary gifts in its history, a $40 million unrestricted donation from the Chicago hedge-fund billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin, whose name will now adorn one of the museum’s best-known buildings, the 1964 black steel-and-glass East Wing, designed by Philip Johnson. Mr. Griffin, the founder and chief executive of Citadel, is a noted collector and has been extremely active in recent years in giving to educational institutions and to museums, primarily in Chicago. He also serves on the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art, whose lobby in its new building in the Meatpacking District is named for him.
NYC's MET Museum Expanding Korean Art Initiatives
NEW YORK, USA – New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art has entered into a long-term relationship with the government of South Korea to expand its presentation of Korean art and culture. The museum and South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism signed the memorandum of understanding on Thursday. The Met says the ministry also donated nearly $1 million for initiatives that will include a major exhibition of Korean art in 2018. The exhibition will be held on the 20th anniversary of the Met's Arts of Korea Gallery, which currently is showing "Korea: 100 Years of Collecting at the Met."
Dutch Museums Celebrate Another Good Year for Attendance
THE NETHERLANDS – 2015 was another good year for the larger museums in the Netherlands. The number of visitors grew by an average of 7.2 percent compared to last year, according to research done by NOS and regional broadcasters. The Gemeentemuseum in The Hague showed the strongest growth this year, with 50 percent more visitors than last year. This is attributable to the exhibition of paintings by Mark Rothko. The Mauritshuis also welcomed many more visitors than in 2014, but that is mostly due to the fact that the museum was closed for the first half of last year. On the actual number of visitors, the big museums in Amsterdam fared best. The Rijksmuseum welcomed 2,350,000 visitors and the Van Gogh Museum received 1,760,934. Earlier this month, the Van Gogh Museum reported their visitor count at a slightly higher 1.9 million. Third and fourth place on the highest number of visitors are also Amsterdam museums – the Anne Frank House with 1,260,000 visitors and the Stedelijk Museum with 675 thousand visitors.
Tunisia's Bardo Museum Enters Cultural Exchange with Italian Institutions
INTERNATIONAL – Tunisia and Italy are engaging in a cultural exchange with the aim of using culture to promote peaceful conflict resolution and transnational cooperation. The move follows the terrorist attack targeting Tunis' Bardo National Museum, which claimed 23 lives including four Italian nationals in March. In October, La Repubblica reported that the cities of Turin and Tunis had signed a far-reaching agreement including the economic and cultural sectors, and also regarding universities, urban policies, energy, water, transport, and waste. The deal is aimed at using culture to promote peace in the Mediterranean region following the terror attacks on the Bardo Museum in March. Now, the the Art Newspaper reports that details of the cultural aspect of the deal includes loans and joint exhibitions between the Bardo Museum and Turin's Museo di Arte Orientale. A similar arrangement is reportedly also being considered by the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. In October, Turin mayor Piero Fassino hailed the agreement as "a cooperation that should be seen as a contribution to peace and stability in the Mediterranean."
Museum of Tomorrow: a captivating invitation
to imagine a sustainable world
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Jutting diagonally into the sky from the old port of Rio de Janeiro is an other-worldly edifice that looks like a cross between a solar-powered dinosaur and a giant air conditioning unit. The Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow), which opens Thursday, must already rank as one of the world's most extraordinary buildings. But once the public starts to visit this weekend, it may soon also become known for one of the planet's most powerful arguments for sustainability. Mixing science and art, the 230m reais (£40m/$59m) institution devotes itself to a topic that is divisive and often depressing: the need for change if mankind is to avoid climate disaster, environmental degradation and social collapse. For Mayor Eduardo Paes – who will inaugurate the building at a ceremony with President Dilma Rousseff – the museum is the most striking example yet of the regeneration and gentrification of Rio's port district. Ten years ago this was one of the city's poorest and most crime-ridden areas. Today it is in the midst of a vast redevelopment that should make it one of the most desirable areas in Rio.
Italy's museums register record number of visitors
ITALY – "There is a marked positive trend in visitor numbers," says Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini. It appears that many make use of the offer of free museum access on Sundays. But more importantly, the number of paying visitors and subsequently the income of the museums has increased. The surge in visitor numbers was preceded by a reform of the museum system which included extended opening hours. After years of austerity, the Italian government is investing in culture again. For instance, they are now working on boosting personnel in cultural institutions: Openings for 500 new positions for archeologists and librarians are advertised for 2016. Back in August, Italy's culture ministry had already appointed 20 directors for leading museums. Increasing the culture budget is really paying off, says Franceschini. Now it is a question of building on these good results, not letting them slip away by continuing to work on preserving the historical, cultural and archeological heritage. In Italy, there are some 400 state-run museums and ancient sites, including the Uffizi galleries in Florence, the Coliseum in Rome and the excavations in Pompeii.
An Intern Saved a Museum by Finding
This Revolutionary War Treasure in the Attic
NEW YORK, USA – Once in a very long while, a rare book or manuscript discovery is so remarkable that it makes national headlines. In 1988, for instance, an anonymous Massachusetts collector recovered an 1827 first edition of Edgar Allan Poe's Tamerlane from a roadside barn. Many will also recall the 1989 story of the man who found an original broadside copy of the Declaration of Independence hidden inside a picture frame that he bought at a Pennsylvania flea market for $4 (and later sold at Sotheby's for $2.4 million). Or the discovery of the manuscript of Lincoln's last address found in a secret compartment of an antique table in 1984 (and later purchased by Malcolm Forbes for $231,000). Yet another "believe it or not" tale is that of the Nashville man who paid $2.50 at a thrift store in 2006 for what he thought was a worthless facsimile of the Declaration of Independence that turned out to be a rare, unrecorded copy of an 1820 print. He sold it for nearly $500,000. The news of an important 18th-century manuscript found in a New York City house museum's attic in the summer of 2013 was another such story: a discovery in an unlikely place, a document of monumental historic value, and a small museum in strained circumstances that was about to gain lots of positive media attention—and a bundle of cash. It even had a celebrity auctioneer at the helm.
PODCAST: Man on a mission
BARCELONA, SPAIN – It's not very often that you come across an architect who devotes his career, if not his life to delivering another architect's vision. Professor Mark Burry's mission to complete Gaudi's Sagrada Familia is like something out of an adventure movie, part detective, part historian, part psychologist all trying to decode the vision and intention of an architect who died 89 years ago. This bizarre remit, which on one hand is now being enabled by technology unimaginable to Gaudi 133 years ago, is on the other hand being kettled by stakeholders from every quarter; public opinion, politics, religion all passionate about one of the most important construction projects in the world.
Bringing historic buildings into
modern energy networks
MUNICH, GERMANY – Speaking at BAU 2015, Patrick Schumacher from Fraunhofer IBP, focussed on the energy demand of historic cities and ways to increase the energy supply while cutting demand. Smart storage systems, air-conditioning solutions and special windows can all combined to reach a solution. Patrick Schumacher explained: "We looked at the energy demand of typical historic urban cities. The example we took was Santiago de Compostela in Spain. We wanted to know what was the solar and biomass potential of the city and also how we could reduce demand." Because Santiago de Compostela is a historic city it presented the team with a range of challenges relating to the buildings themselves and minimising visual impact. Placing solar panels on historic buildings and digging up roads to install pipework will always create debate.
Meet the finalists who could design the Obama Presidential Center
CHICAGO, USA – The Barack Obama Foundation on Monday named seven architectural firms that will compete for one of Chicago's and the nation's most sought-after commissions -- the design of the Barack Obama Presidential Center, which will be built in Washington Park or Jackson Park on Chicago's South Side. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are expected to select a winner by mid-2016. Here are profiles of the finalists.
Bi-City Biennale Opens to Reimagine Architecture in Hong Kong, Shenzhen
HONG KONG, CHINA – The 2015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (Hong Kong) (UABB(HK)) has officially opened. The exhibition and festival has a partner event in Shenzhen. For the next three months, until February 28, UABBHK will be a destination to learn, share, and discover the built environment of Hong Kong. Under the title "Visions 2050 – Lifestyle and the City," the Biennale will examine the living culture of Hong Kong, both as it is now and also for the next 35 years. Spread across the 34,000 square meters of Kowloon Park, 60 exhibitors from all over the world will be presenting large-scale installations, artwork, fashion, accessories, and urban farming. The list of participants includes inventors, academics, businesses, collectives, architects, planners, ecologists, fashion and product designers, filmmakers, photographers, and students.
Santiago Calatrava's Museum of Tomorrow Opens in Rio de Janeiro
RIO DE JANIERO, BRAZIL – Santiago Calatrava is celebrating the opening of the Museu do Amanhã (The Museum of Tomorrow) this week in Rio de Janeiro. The highly anticipated museum, built on the Pier Mauá, features a distinct cantilevering roof that stretches 75-meters over the museum's 7,600-square-meter plaza and 45-meters towards the sea. "The city of Rio de Janeiro is setting an example to the world of how to recover quality urban spaces through drastic intervention and the creation of cultural facilities such as the Museum of Tomorrow and the new Museum of Art," said Santiago Calatrava. "This vision led us, in our first designs, to propose the addition of a plaza outside the Museum. The plaza creates a more cohesive urban space and reflects the neighborhood's greater transformation."
Daniel Libeskind has unveiled a design for the new green-roofed Lithuanian Modern Art Center in Vilnius
VILNIUS, LITHUANIA – Renowned architect Daniel Libeskind has published the design of Lithuania's modern art center (MAC) in Vilnius. Surrounded by a new public plaza located steps away from the medieval town, the 3,100 sq m museum has been conceived as an expression of the city, both past and present. The project was announced by Viktoras Butkus and Danguole Butkiene, co-founders of the non-profit Modern Art Center (MAC) Vilnius, along with city Mayor Remigijus Simasius. The museum will be dedicated to the exploration of works created from 1960 to the present day by Lithuanian artists. The Butkus' collection contains more than 4,000 works including paintings.
Explore the British Museum and 3D print its artifacts all from the comfort of home
LONDON, U.K. – Can you imagine perusing thousands of priceless artworks, and travelling through the halls of the world's greatest museums from the comfort of your own living room, or even more comfortably from your bed? Well, thanks to the Google Cultural Institute (GCI), it is entirely possible. The Google Cultural Institute, which was launched in 2011 after the announcement of the Google Art Project, functions similarly to Google Street View in that it allows people to virtually explore spaces, though instead of streets and cities, users are given access to a number of museums and galleries, such as the Tate Modern in London, or the Chicago Institute of Art. Excitingly, GCI recently partnered with the British Museum and have just launched the virtual version of it, which covers nine floors of the museum and 85 of its permanent galleries, making it the most expansive interior Google street view space.
A Digital Museum That Can Be Viewed IRL
NEW YORK, USA – Like a digital snake eating its tail, digital art now has a (digital) museum it can call home. On display IRL at Brooklyn's TRANSFER Gallery, The Digital Museum of Digital Art (DiMoDA) is the brainchild of artists and directors/developers Alfredo Salazar-Caro and William James Richard Robertson. In a way, this was inevitable. As Salazar-Caro and Robertson themselves — both members of the glitch, new media, and digital art scenes — would note, and as other commentators have pointed out, the idea of a virtual art space has been in development for a while. Paper-Thin, Panther Modern, and Crystal Gallery are just a few examples that mirror the gallery or museum (Panther Modern features artist shows in digital "rooms"). But looking out over the sea of development in virtual reality, digital art, and museum documentation/accessibility, DiMoDA is more like the fascinating head of a building convergence, the first of a thousand sails.
Technology in Museums: making the
latest advances work for our cultural institutions
INTERNATIONAL – Using technology in museums can start from the smallest of organisations creating a Twitter account to engage and pass on essential information to their audience to more ambitious projects such as Kendal Museum in Cumbria digitising its entire natural history collection and launching a new website so the whole world can connect with its 5,700-strong collection of minerals and pressed flowers. However, it is to the larger museums that we look to see the even more pioneering developments and innovations that are transforming the way the sector uses technology to showcase its collections and engage with its visitors. Such as the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum in New York which has designed an electronic pen, which allows visitors to "collect" information as they make their way around the museum and then access a dedicated website post visit to see what they have collected, and thus continue the museum journey. Here M+H Advisor provides six case studies (below) from both suppliers and museums that are using technology to improve the way the sector tells its stories and presents its collections.
Natural History Museum VR experience lets you explore the Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough
LONDON, U.K. – Visitors to the Natural History Museum will be able to experience both state-of-the-art technology and the beauty of the world's largest coral reef system like never before, as part of a new virtual reality experience based on a nature documentary by Sir David Attenborough. The David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef Dive VR experience is a 360-degree video experience that takes the viewer deep underwater to explore some of the most fascinating sights of Australia's world famous reef system, so the viewer feels as if they are being taken on a private guided tour sitting in a submersible beside Attenborough. The experience app plays on the Samsung Gear VR and is 20 minutes long in duration. It will be available to all Natural History Museum visitors from 11 December onwards for six weeks and admission for the attraction will cost £6.50 for adults and £4.50 for members and patrons.
Museum data and photo archives reveal shifting climate
LONDON, U.K. – Most scientists turn to conventional data sources when analysing climate change — meteorological stations and satellite data, for example. Scientists at Boston University, United States, have been taking a very different approach. They've been digging into centuries of data from diverse sources: museum collections, photographic archives and the diaries of field naturalists, among others. Nineteenth-century naturalists such as Henry David Thoreau minutely recorded the ecological events they saw around them — from the flowering times of plants to the arrival of birds in spring. When combined with other sources of information, both old and new, a clear picture of environmental and climatic change emerges, biology professor Richard Primack explains in this audio interview.
Google Cultural Institute Puts Us All Onstage
INTERNATIONAL – Stand, virtually, on the stage of the Palais Garnier, among the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet. Use
your mouse to manipulate a 360-degree video that allows you to see them from
many angles as they perform Benjamin Millepied's "Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward."
Or journey to Stratford-upon-Avon, where you can try to keep up with a frenetic
Alex Hassell of the Royal Shakespeare Company as
Henry V, exhorting his troops to go "once more unto the breach." Or go onstage
at Carnegie Hall, where the video places you smack in the middle of the
Philadelphia Orchestra as it plays a rousing "In the Hall of the Mountain King"
from Grieg's "Peer Gynt" Suite under the baton of
Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Face forward for a player's-eye
view of the conductor. Turn around to watch a flutist put on his glasses or the
strings as they build to a crescendo or the percussionists as they prepare their
arsenal for the big finish. The 360-degree videos are part of an innovative
assemblage of performing arts groups that went online on Tuesday morning at the
Google Cultural Institute, a free website that made its name in recent years by
digitizing and displaying the collections of more than 800 art museums and
historical archives. The Google initiative is now moving into the performing
arts, and this exhibition is the first fruit of its partnerships with more than
60 groups from around the world — with the groups providing the content and
Google providing the gee-whiz technology.
Arts Education Is Growing in NYC Public Schools
NEW YORK, USA – Art classes are often the first to be sacrificed from school curriculums when budgets get cut — which makes the 2014–15 New York City Department of Education "Annual Arts in Schools Report" a welcome bit of good news for young artists in the five boroughs. According to the report, arts education in New York City public schools expanded in 2015, with 175 new positions added after four years of maintaining 2,400 certified art teachers in the system. This growth is partly thanks to a new $5.3 million staffing program called Arts Matter, which allows middle and high schools to share dance, music, art, and theater teachers. The program brought art instruction to some 22,000 new students this year.
Why the Rijksmuseum Is Removing Bigoted Terms from Its Artworks' Titles
AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS – If you're browsing the digital collection of Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, you might come across a 1594 painting by Cornelisz van Haarlem, "Bathsheba at her Toilet," picturing "the beautiful Bathsheba" bathing outside the castle of King David. And you might wonder what year it is when you see this jarringly racist phrase in the painting's description: "Because Bathsheba's maidservant is black, the subtly erotic painting takes on an exotic tinge." It's just one example of the offensive and dated language that peppers the museum's descriptions of its artworks. Soon, though, racially charged language — including words like "negro" and "Mohamadden," a Victorian word for Muslims since it was assumed they followed Mohammad like Christians followed Jesus — will be removed from some 220,000 titles and descriptions in the Rijksmuseum's online catalogue of images, to be replaced by more neutral terms. The project, called "Adjustment of Colonial Terminology," is spearheaded by 12 curators in the Rijksmuseum's history department. It's been in planning stages for several years, but has only gotten off the ground in the past month.
'Peace Reigns' in Spain as Prado and a New Museum Settle Dispute
MADRID, SPAIN – The Prado museum has settled a long-simmering duel with a new royal museum in Madrid over the rights to its most famous paintings, including "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Hieronymus Bosch and the 15th-century depiction of the descent of Christ from the cross by Rogier van der Weyden. In an accord signed Wednesday at the Royal Palace in Madrid, the leaders of the Prado and the Patrimonio Nacional, the agency that administers all royal holdings from palaces to artworks, agreed that four major paintings would remain permanently on display at the Prado and that the two institutions would cooperate in the future.
Second Version of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa' Discovered in Private Collection in St. Petersburg
ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – The stream of news and discoveries about Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa are seemingly never ending. In a shocking twist, it's now been reported that a second version of the iconic portrait might have been discovered in a private collection in St. Petersburg. Experts are now analyzing the artwork in order to establish whether it is a genuine work by Leonardo da Vinci or simply one of the many convincing replicas in existence around the world. The research is being coordinated by Italian expert Silvano Vinceti, who claims there's already sufficient evidence to suggest the painting could be genuine. To the untrained eye, this "second version" or "new Mona Lisa" looks strikingly similar to the world-famous painting that hangs in the Louvre. The work is framed by two columns, which do not appear in the original work but are featured in a genuine study for the painting, the Daily Mail reports.
A French Researcher Believes There's a Painting Hidden Under Mona Lisa
PARIS, FRANCE – The Mona Lisa is the one of the world's most famous and most carefully studied paintings, but it may have secrets lurking just below its surface. A French scientist who has analyzed the work of art using reflective light technology now believes it was painted over a portrait of another woman. The earlier portrait, which has been recreated using digital imaging technology, shows a woman looking out to the side of the frame and lacking Mona Lisa's mysterious smile. Though the identity of Mona Lisa has never been officially confirmed, it has long been speculated to be Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant. Pascal Cotte, the French scientist, now believes Gherardini is the hidden woman and the famous painting is an unknown person.
Syrian refugees will see free arts, cultural events in Canada Council initiative
CANADA – Syrian refugees arriving in Canada will be treated to a taste of Canadian culture — watching a stage play, taking in a concert or visiting an art exhibit, for instance — through a new initiative spearheaded by the Canada Council of the Arts. The national arts body and Sun Life Financial have teamed up to create a program to provide refugees free access to a performance, exhibition or arts event in their new communities. "It's a modest piece of much broader collective and national efforts," Canada Council CEO Simon Brault said Friday, announcing the initiative at Théâtre d'aujourd'hui in Montreal at an event also attended by Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly.
Pioneering Geneva ready to rescue cultural assets
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – In a storage yard in a non-descript part of Geneva, a shiny red container lies dormant. But open the flaps – an operation performed in seconds – and the 6m x 2.5m container becomes a mobile centre for the rescue or repair of heritage goods. When fire, water or earthquakes damage works of cultural importance such as books, manuscripts and works of art, time is critical. The container dubbed ‘La Berce' (French for cradle) is Geneva's all-in-one solution.Stocked with expert equipment, ventilators, filtered vacuum cleaners, hygrometers, natural sponges and even tiny sable brushes, the purpose of the container is to provide the tools for an orderly evacuation from danger zones or to arrest the degradation on site. It was recently launched by the city of Geneva and is waiting to prove its worth. "We have gone to great lengths to put in place something that we'd rather not have to use," said project coordinator Nelly Cauliez, head of conservation at the Library of Geneva. She has worked with political authorities, curators and conservationists, as well as the local security services, to coordinate the project and design the container.
Heatherwick wins planning for £100m King's Cross project
LONDON, U.K. – Thomas Heatherwick has won planning for his £100m retail complex and piazza at King's Cross in London, UK which will transform three derelict coal drops into 10,000 sq m of shops, restaurants, galleries and bars. The green light has been given by Camden Council for the brand-new development. Coal Drops Yard, next to the Regent's Canal, the Gasholders apartments and Granary Square, will offer an exciting array of boutique and destination shops and restaurants, ready to welcome visitors and shoppers in 2018. In addition to the area's new bars and restaurants, homes, schools, parks and squares, Coal Drops Yard will bring an eclectic mix of independent retailers and signature brands, all with quality and traditional shop-keeping values, and a focus on fashion and lifestyle. Coal Drops Yard will have around 65 units of varying sizes, including five larger anchors units, opening onto a central public space.
Detroit joins Shenzhen, Berlin, Turin and others as an UNESCO "City of Design"
DETROIT, USA – [Detroit] will join 47 other cities from 33 countries as a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, which is made up of cities with a strong legacy in one of seven creative fields, from gastronomy and literature to design. Member cities commit to collaborate, promote creativity and cultural industries, share best practices, strengthen participation in cultural life and integrate culture in economic and social development strategies and plans.
Uganda: Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo Bares Uganda's Cultural Heritage
UGANDA – Uganda has been exhibited to the world as a beautiful destination and it is hard to disagree. The Pearl of African Tourism Expo last month was a good eye opener, where locals and international buyers, were able to see what Uganda has to offer in tourism potential- culture, food, weather and the hospitality. "The expo is a place for networking, discussing business expansion and marketing prospects as one meets and interacts with exhibitors, buyers and source markets," Uganda Tourism Board's chief executive officer Stephen Asiimwe, said. The cultural exhibition at the various tents was quite a crowd puller. At the Busoga Tourism Initiative (BTI) tent, there was a lot of regalia that teaches and reminds us about the rich history of Busoga sub-region. Edward Baliddawa, who started BTI, says the expo is a good idea that should remind people about their heritage.
Is This the Perfect City?
INTERNATIONAL – Chandigarh, India's most prosperous and greenest city, was born of dreams at the time of one of the country's worst nightmares. In 1947, India gained its independence from Britain. As part of this process, the country was divided in two and some 14 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims were displaced. Ethnic tensions and rivalries led to up to around a million (estimates vary) brutal murders. In the Punjab region, the dividing line between the two states meant that the old capital, Lahore, was now a part of Pakistan. In 1949, Chandigarh was decreed. Not only would this be the capital of Indian Punjab, but it would be the very model of a modern city promising peace, democracy and a new social order free of bitter divisions.
Creating Cultural Capital|