Art Industry News: Cooper Hewitt Trustees Resign After the Museum’s Director Is Pushed Out Over Her Fancy Wedding + Other Stories

Plus, UK arts groups could lose public funding if they don't diversify their staffs, and Perrotin plans yet another Paris gallery.

Cocktails at Cooper Hewitt in the Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden. Courtesy of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 18.


Arts Groups Could Lose Funding for Lack of Diversity – England’s arts organizations and museums risk losing public funding if they do not make real progress in diversifying their workforce. The chair of Arts Council England, Nicholas Serota, described some organizations as “treading water” on the issue. To encourage progress, ACE will publicly name the organizations that must do better. Just 11 percent of the workforce of organizations receiving its funding employ people from minority ethnic backgrounds. (For comparison, England’s working-age population is 16 percent nonwhite.) Further details on the tougher new targets are due to be announced in April. (Guardian)

Kusama’s Infinity Room Violates Museum’s Building Code – The Aspen Art Museum has been forced to shutter the Japanese artist’s exhibition earlier than scheduled because one of her signature “Infinity Rooms” blocked access to an elevator. The one-work exhibition will have to close 11 weeks early, on February 23, due to the violation of municipal building codes. The museum had hoped that opening up a freight elevator would successfully address the issue, but the City of Aspen decided otherwise. The Aspen Art Museum, which was not fined for the violation, originally planned to install the work on its roof, but had second thoughts because of Colorado’s harsh winters. (The Art Newspaper)

Cooper Hewitt Trustees Resign in Protest of Director’s Ouster – Six trustees of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum have resigned in support of its former director, Caroline Baumann. Baumann was abruptly forced to resign after a Smithsonian investigation into possible conflict of interest arising from her wedding (specifically, the cost of her designer dress and venue). The resigning trustees, including Judy Francis Zankel, Avi N. Reichental, and Kurt Anderson, said they felt the punishment was disproportionate and that they should have been consulted about the Smithsonian’s investigation. Meanwhile, another donor, design journalist Arlene Hirst, said she would remove the museum from her will over the “trumped-up charges.” The Smithsonian has declined to reveal details of the allegations or its findings, but is standing by its decision. (New York Times)

Bulgaria Boycotts the Louvre’s Religious Art Show – Bulgaria has pulled out of an exhibition of religious art at the Louvre following a disagreement over its curatorial approach. The country’s minister of culture objected to the Paris museum’s plan to show the links between Christian and Islamic art. The ruling body of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church would not give its blessing for the loan of the 60 religious artifacts, many of which were created when the region was part of the Ottoman Empire. The art historian Clemena Antonova said the idea for the exhibition, which was due to open in June, showed “a total misunderstanding on the part of the Louvre of Bulgarian history and culture.” She added, however, that Bulgarians are easily upset. (Balkan Insight)


Perrotin Announces a New Paris Gallery – The tireless gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin is expanding in Paris (again). He plans to open a new space in the 8th arrondissement, not far from the Champs-Elysées and the Grand Palais, this spring. “The general atmosphere of this venue will be that of a salon,” he said of the space on Avenue Matignon. The international dealer’s other Paris spaces are in the Marais. (Press release)

A Picture Framer’s Collection Heads to Auction – Framer extraordinaire Eli Wilner is selling a replica of perhaps his most famous frame, the one he made for Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at auction. (The successful bidder can choose the size.) It is one of 416 replica historic frames from Wilner’s New York workshop on offer in an online sale at Guernsey’s starting tomorrow. (Architectural Digest)


Art Fund Names New Director – Jenny Waldman, who led the UK’s World War I centenary program, 14-18 NOW, has been named the new director of the Art Fund. Waldman will replace Stephen Deuchar at the helm of the national art charity, which raises funds for the acquisition of artworks in the UK, in April. (Museums Association)

Los Angeles Times Critic Wins Achievement Award – Christopher Knight has won the Dorothea and Leo Rabkin Foundation’s second-ever lifetime achievement award for his “forthright, honest, informed, and embedded” criticism. The inaugural edition of the prize, which comes with $50,000, went to New York Times co-chief art critic Roberta Smith. (LAT)

Pirelli HangarBicocca Names New Manager – Alessandro Bianchi has been appointed the next general manager of the contemporary art space and nonprofit in Milan, Pirelli HangarBicocca. Bianchi will take over from Marco Lanata, who will stay on as the Pirelli Group’s real estate management director, on March 2. (Artforum)


South Korea May Be Getting a Bong Joon Ho Museum – After Bong Joon Ho’s sweep at the Oscars for Parasite, South Korean politicians are proposing to monumentalize the director with a statue and museum. The move is an about-face for the conservative politicians, who have been staunchly critical of Bong’s “commie flicks” in the past. (IndieWire)

India Asks the Ashmolean Museum to Return Bronze – The Indian government is asking Oxford’s prestigious Ashmolean Museum to repatriate a 15th-century bronze idol that was stolen from a temple in the 1960s. The state made the formal request after the Ashmolean raised concerns about the provenance of the idol of Saint Thirumangai Alwar following an inquiry by an independent scholar. (The Art Newspaper)

V&A Will Close the Museum of Childhood for Renovations – The V&A Museum of Childhood in London is closing in May for a £13 million ($16.9 million) renovation project. The museum is slated to reopen in 2022 with a new, less nostalgic, and more forward-looking ethos. (Guardian)

See Doug Aitken’s Mirage in the Snow – The artist has composed a new musical piece that will be performed live at his hilltop installation Mirage Gstaad on February 29 at noon. Six vocalists from the Los Angeles Master Chorale will sing a hypnotic, layered song reflecting “everyday language and phrases that have been abstracted into beautiful and transcendent music that surrounds and envelops the listener.” (Instagram)

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