Van Gogh swiped last night during museum smash-and-grab

Last night some asshole smashed a glass door at the Singer Laren museum near Amsterdam and stole Vincent van Gogh's oil painting “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884." The museum has been closed due to COVID-19. From the Associated Press:

The value of the (10" x 22") work, which was on loan from the Groninger Museum in the northern Dutch city of Groningen, was not immediately known. Van Gogh’s paintings, when they rarely come up for sale, fetch millions at auction...

A team including forensics and art theft experts was studying video footage and questioning neighbors. [Museum General Director Evert] Van Os said the museum’s security worked “according to protocol,” but he added: “Obviously we can learn from this.”

Read the rest

The Smithsonian just released 2.8 million images into the public domain

The Smithsonian Institution has just released 2.8 million images (2D and 3D) into the public domain via a new Smithsonian Open Access online platform where anyone can browse and download high-res files. And then reuse them! Or remix them! For whatever! For free! From Smithsonian:

Featuring data and material from all 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives and the National Zoo, the new digital depot encourages the public to not just view its contents, but use, reuse and transform them into just about anything they choose—be it a postcard, a beer koozie or a pair of bootie shorts.

And this gargantuan data dump is just the beginning. Throughout the rest of 2020, the Smithsonian will be rolling out another 200,000 or so images, with more to come as the Institution continues to digitize its collection of 155 million items and counting...

Spanning the arts and humanities to science and engineering, the release compiles artifacts, specimens and datasets from an array of fields onto a single online platform. Noteworthy additions include portraits of Pocahontas and Ida B. Wells, images of Muhammad Ali’s boxing headgear and Amelia Earhart’s record-shattering Lockheed Vega 5B, along with thousands of 3-D models that range in size from a petite Eulaema bee just a couple centimeters in length to the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant, estimated at about 29 light-years across.

Smithsonian Open Access Read the rest

Museum of Hangovers opens in Croatia

College student Rino Dubokovic has opened a Museum of Hangovers in Zagreb, Croatia. From CNN:

Exhibits include displays of objects people found inexplicably the morning after a boozy night, a room where visitors can test their reflexes after putting on "beer goggles," and an interactive section where they can share their own best and worst hangover experiences.

The gift shop is also tongue-in-cheek, selling a "drunkopoly" board game and bar activities, like darts. Dubokovic, who is from the island of Hvar and studying computer science, tells CNN Travel that the point of the museum isn't to glorify overindulgence. Rather, it's a physical representation of the kinds of chats he had with his friends, where everyone is sharing stories and bonding about things they did in the past.

The city is also home to the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Read the rest

John Waters looks at modern art

In the above episode of the Museum of Modern Art's "The Way I See It," the patron saint of bad taste John Waters looks at Lee Lozano’s "Untitled" (1963).

"I buy art and love art that frightens me and gives me flashbacks to things that scared me. And then I overcome it by looking at it." Read the rest

Sleeping inside one of Edward Hopper's hotel room paintings

As part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' "Edward Hopper and the American Hotel" exhibition, the curators have created a brilliant installation and visitor experience that's seemingly made for Instagram. They built a physical version of Hopper's above painting "Western Hotel" (1957) and offered overnight stays inside the artwork. The overnight packages sold out very quickly. The New York Times' Margot Boyer-Dry was one of the first guests:

Every detail here was inspired by Edward Hopper’s 1957 painting “Western Motel,” which has been brought to vibrant, three-dimensional life. The only thing missing is the mysterious woman whose burgundy dress matches the bedspread. But that’s where the museum guest comes in.

I was the second person to stay in the museum’s Hopper hotel room, essentially becoming its subject for a night. (Before it sold out through February, the room cost anywhere from $150 a night to $500 for a package, including dinner, mini golf and a tour with the curator.) My time there was short — a standard stay runs from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. — and awkward. I had traveled all day to reach Richmond, and these pristinely basic quarters were the main event. Ultimately, it reminded me of every other hotel room I’ve ever stayed in...

Ellen Chapman, a Richmond resident who stayed the night before I did, was more focused on the novelty of an art overnight. “I’ve always had that childhood fantasy of spending the night in a museum,” she said. “The remarkable part for me was waking up, drinking my coffee and looking at this amazing exhibit right next to me.”

Read the rest

Adam Savage goes behind the scenes at the Smithsonian's Exhibits Central

While Adam Savage was in DC recently for the Apollo 50th Anniversary celebration (and to do the final assembly on the wonderful Project Egress NASA escape hatch project), he visited the Smithsonian's Office of Exhibits Central (OEC). Read the rest

Inside a New York garbage collector's massive personal collection of treasures found in the trash

For more than three decades, New York Sanitation worker Nelson Molina has picked personal treasures from the garbage he collects in East Harlem. Now totaling more than 45,000 cataloged items, Molina has an astounding personal wunderkammer of treasures from the trash. Nicolas Heller profiles him in this wonderful short documentary.

Read the rest

Triple Chaser: a short documentary that uses machine learning to document tear gas use against civilians, calling out "philanthropist" Warren Kanders for his company's war-crimes

Laura Poitras (previously) is the Academy Award-winning director of Citizenfour; she teamed up with the activist group Forensic Archicture (previously), whose incredible combination of data-visualization and documentary filmmaking have made them a potent force for holding war criminals and authoritarians to account: together, they created Triple Chaser, a short documentary that uses novel machine-learning techniques to document the ways in which tear gas and bullets made by companies belonging to "philanthropist" Warren Kanders have been used against civilians to suppress anti-authoritarian movements, and even to murder innocents, including children. Read the rest

Louvre purges every mention of the Sackler opioid family after artist's protest

The Sackler family got richer than the Rockefellers by marketing Oxycontin in ways that kickstarted the global opioid epidemic, whose body count continues to rise -- more than 200,000 dead in the US alone, which is more Americans than died in the Vietnam war. Read the rest

Disgusting Food Museum coming to Los Angeles

Sweden's Disgusting Food Museum is opening a touring exhibition in Los Angeles's Architecture and Design Museum. The exhibit runs from December 9 to February 17. "What we find disgusting has to be learned -- it's purely cultural," says curator/psychologist Samuel West. This is a fine opportunity to taste foods you've been curious about, like fermented shark, durian, maggot-infested cheese (above), bull penis (seen below), or mouse wine (also below). From CNN:

...American favorites such as root beer and Jell-O salad sit in the museum alongside fried tarantula and cooked guinea pigs. "If you give root beer to a Swede they will spit it out and say it tastes like toothpaste, but I think it's delicious," he notes...

While many food-related "museums" of late have mostly just been opportunities for novel selfies, West is adamant that the Disgusting Food Museum is there to help people learn and think critically, not just to pose for photos. The downside? "One of my worries that it will start stinking in here," West says.

Also see posts about Samuel West's previous Museum of Failure here and here.

Read the rest

Saturday (9/22): Museum Day with free admission to 1,500 US museums

This Saturday (9/22) is Smithsonian magazine's Museum Day 2018 offering free admission to nearly 1,500 museums of all kinds around the United States. Each free ticket (one per email address) is good for two people's admission on Saturday. Download your ticket and find out what museums are participating near you: Museum Day

image: Ole Worm's Museum Wormianum, 1655 (Smithsonian Libraries) Read the rest

A cabinet of noses

On display in Copenhagen, Denmark's Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek art museum is this glass display case filled with noses of myriad shapes and sizes. Why?

According to curator Anne Marie Nielsen, noses on 19th century statues are notoriously fragile and would frequently break off. So the owners of the statues (or perhaps even prior museum curators) would replace them with marble or plaster replicas. Nowadays though, the museum removes any replacement noses because they only want to display the original sculptures, faults and all.

“About 20 years ago, the museum had a box filled with noses [in our archives], and we weren’t sure what to do with them,” Nielsen tells Smithsonian.com. “We decided to group them together and put them [on display].” Read the rest

Child hit with $132,000 bill for accidentally knocking over sculpture

A 5-year-old boy knocked over a sculpture at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas. A few days later, Overland Park's insurance company hit the boy's parents with a $132,000 bill. From ABC News:

City officials say the piece was not “permanently attached” but it was secured to the pedestal with clips and that it was “a not an interactive piece.”

“We’ve had other pieces there [and] we’ve not had problems,” said city spokesman Sean Reilly. “We’ve not had this situation… we’ve not had kids climb on our pieces.”

But (the child's mom Sarah) Goodman argued the sculpture should have been better secured. She also disputes the city’s claim that her child wasn’t being supervised. Goodman said she and her husband were out of frame of the surveillance camera, saying their goodbyes during a wedding reception that they were leaving, when the incident occurred.

Read the rest

Art opening delayed after rotting fish artwork catches fire

In 1997, South Korean artist Lee Bul's "Majestic Splendor," an installation of bedazzled rotting fish, was removed from New York's MoMA because the stink was too much for visitors. To prevent the odor problem from interfering with Bul's new retrospective at London's Hayward Gallery, he put the fish in potassium permanganate. Of course, potassium permanganate is frequently used as a firestarter and can easily lead to a blaze when combined with tiny amounts of other common chemicals. From Frieze:

On receiving advice, the gallery decided to withdraw the artwork, but it spontaneously combusted mid-removal.

‘Following expert advice regarding the materials used in Lee Bul’s Majestic Splendor we took the decision, along with the artist, to remove the artwork from the exhibition. During the de-installation, a small fire broke out and the fire service attended,’ a spokesperson for the Hayward told frieze.

Read the rest

Mark Dery visits the "David Bowie is" exhibit

My favorite culture critic, the inimitable Mark Dery, visited the "David Bowie is" exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Author of the excellent "All the Young Dudes: Why Glam Rock Matters," Dery sees the exhibit as "a burial chamber for a rock god, replete with everything he’ll need for the afterlife." From the Brooklyn Rail:

Crepuscule with Bowie, I thought, not quite groping my way through the perpetual twilight of David Bowie is at the Brooklyn Museum. The 400 artifacts in this blockbuster show—costumes (stage and offstage, because when wasn’t Bowie onstage?), handwritten lyrics, record-cover art, stage-set designs and maquettes, personal effects (including, fabulously, the Great Man’s coke spoon from the dissolute mid-seventies)—are displayed in vitrines or mounted on stagelike platforms and spotlit. The encroaching shadows give the exhibition a sepulchral feel. Taking it all in, I had an inkling of what Howard Carter must’ve felt as he got his first look, by flickering candlelight, at Tutankhamun’s tomb...

"Ziggy's Reliquaries" (Brooklyn Rail) Read the rest

Voyager Golden Record featured in V&A Museum exhibition about the future

This weekend is the opening of "The Future Starts Here," a new exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum of art and design. Celebrating "100 projects shaping the world of tomorrow," the exhibit features several objects that began as Kickstarter projects, including the "Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition" the Grammy-winning 3xLP vinyl box set that I co-produced with my friends Timothy Daly and Lawrence Azerrad. Our project was the first vinyl release of the iconic phonograph record launched into space by NASA in 1977 as a message for extraterrestrials, perhaps billions of years from now.

The Voyager Golden Record is an artifact for the future. As Tim Ferris, who produced the original Voyager Record, wrote in our liner notes, the Voyagers are on a journey not just through space but also through time. The Voyager Record is a time capsule but it is also timeless. It sparks the imagination. It provokes us to think about the future and our civilization's place in it. It exudes a sense of hope for a better tomorrow. And it lies at the intersection of science, art, and design to spark the imagination.

When Lawrence first began designing our "Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition," he said: "The original Voyager Golden Record is the ultimate album package. I want to design the ultimate album package of the ultimate album package."

We're deeply honored to be included in the exhibit! I'm also thrilled that my Institute for the Future colleague Sam Woolley's provocative "Political Bots" exhibit is also part of The Future Starts Here, which runs at the V&A Museum until November 4. Read the rest

Help wanted: Archivist for the Prince museum at Paisley Park

Prince's Paisley Park, now a museum, is seeking an archives supervisor to "actively work in the care, catalog, storage and preservation of all artifacts and archival materials; the care, cleaning, and monitoring of all exhibits." According to the job requirements, "Some knowledge of Prince is helpful." From the job listing at the American Alliance of Museums site:

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Actively work in the care, catalog, storage and preservation of all artifacts and archival materials; the care, cleaning, and monitoring of all exhibits. Maintain and Update the archival database system. Monitor the trafficking of archive inventory. Assist the appropriate staff in having access to the archives collection as required. Travel/act as a courier of artifacts to locations where artifacts are to be displayed including the setting up and taking down of exhibits in these locations. Execute, maintain, and provide accurate conditioning reports for all items being moved from storage for exhibition. Ensure that the collections manual, preservation plans and archives emergency plan are observed. Locate, retrieve, and prepare artifacts for display/loans. Ensure the integrity of the collection in maintained at all times. Oversea all cleaning of exhibit spaces. Work with outside vendors to schedule monthly, quarterly and annual cleaning. Assist with Archives long term planning, conservation goals and preservation needs. Photograph and or scan artifacts when needed. Assist with exhibition installs. Maintain displayed artifacts in proper environment, eliminate risk to artifacts. Assist Director of Archives with coordinating activities involving the maintenance, preservation and mansion upkeep. Ensure the integrity of the exhibitions are maintained at all times. Read the rest

More posts