Art Industry News: 12,000 American Museums Could Go Out of Business by the End of the Year, a New Survey Says + Other Stories

Plus, the House of Representatives votes to remove Confederate statues from the US Capitol and astronomy helps solve an art-history mystery.

A recent survey found that one-third of American museums may not survive 2020. Photo: Creative Commons via Flickr.

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 Thursday, July 23.


Pioneering Video Artists on the Future of the Medium – Museums around the globe have been streaming video art online during lockdown because it is one of the only art forms intended to be viewed on a screen. Top video artists Hito Steyerl, Rachel Rose, Isaac Julien, and Lynn Hershman Leeson share their thoughts on the future of the medium. While some think the web will become the main avenue to view video art, Steyerl resists the idea of sharing her work on commercial or corporate platforms and thinks there should be investment in a public digital infrastructure. Rose and Julien prefer video art to be viewed more like a live concert, while Hershman Leeson wants to see museums develop new ways for audiences to interactively experience video art online. (T magazine)

House Votes to Remove Confederate Statues From the US Capitol – In a 305-113 vote late week, the  Democratic-led US House of Representatives voted to remove the bust of former Supreme Court chief justice Roger Taney, who drafted the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision, and replace it with a statue of Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first Black person appointed to the US Supreme Court. The initiative will likely be blocked by the Republican-led Senate. The House bill proposes removing other Confederate statues from Capitol as well. (Wall Street Journal)

The Paycheck Protection Program Won’t Be Enough to Save Most Museums – A new survey of more than 750 museum directors by the American Alliance of Museums found that a third of American art institutions may not survive the year following the prolonged shutdown and attendant economic crisis. Museum leaders fear that even vast cuts to services and dipping into their reserves will not be enough to save their institutions. The data showed that 87 percent of museums have 12 months or less stored in their operating reserves, and that 56 percent only have enough to operate for less than six months. AAM’s president Laura Lott says that the potential closure of 12,000 museums would be “devastating for communities, economies, education systems, and our cultural history.” (TAN)

Astronomer Makes a Vermeer Discovery – A Texas astronomer claims to have solved the mystery of when Vermeer’s famous View of Delft was painted. (What, you weren’t wondering?) Donald Olson says he can pinpoint the exact moment that Vermeer executed the work: 8 a.m. on September 3, 1659. He solved the puzzle by studying the exact angle of the sun from the second floor of the inn where the Dutch master was staying at the time, as well as other historical information. (Guardian)


Holocaust Center Decries Sale of Swastika-Bearing Eagle – The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles is urging museums to shell out for a 700-pound bronze eagle holding a swastika in its talons in order to keep it out of the hands of white supremacists. The object, which is valued at as much as $26 million, is due to be auctioned off in Uruguay and the center is urging that priority to be given to educational institutions. (Observer)

Global Auction Sales Drop by Half – A new report from ArtTactic says that total auction sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips have nearly halved this year through July 10, falling from $5.7 billion in the equivalent period last year to $2.9 billion. That said, the report also shows that the value of online sales is up 500 percent. (Financial Times)


Basquiat Collector Enrico Navarro Has Died – The prominent collector of work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, who also co-authored a three-volume publication about the artist in 2000 with dealer Tony Shafrazi, died at age 67 after suffering from lung problems. (ARTnews)

Museum of the Year Drastically Increases Prize Pot – The annual accolade for UK museums has increased its award money by 40 percent, to £200,000 ($254,500), as a direct response to the institutional shutdowns that have wreaked havoc on museum finances. The winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 will be announced on October 12. (Press release)


Developer in 5Pointz Lawsuit Appeals to Supreme Court – G&M Realty has filed a petition with the US Supreme Court arguing that part of the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act—which led lower courts to determine (twice) that the company owed $6.75 million to 21 artists after whitewashing their graffiti at the 5Pointz building in Long Island City—is unconstitutional. G&M’s owner, Jerry Wolkoff, died last week. (TAN)

John Waters Teams Up With Saint Laurent – The filmmaker, visual artist, and master of lewdness is the new face of Saint Laurent’s fall 2020 campaign. Keanu, who? (The Cut)

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