Art Industry News: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Will Reopen to an Exhibition-Starved Public on August 29 + Other Stories

Plus, Perrotin opens its fourth gallery space in Paris and SFMOMA staff members condemn the museum's leadership in an open letter.

"Wangechi Mutu: The NewOnes, will free Us" (2019), installation view. Photo courtesy of the artist; Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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 Wednesday, June 24.


SFMOMA Staff Condemn Leadership in Open Letter – Current and former staff from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art issued an open letter criticizing the institution for deep structural inequalities and bias following the censorship of a Black worker’s criticism of the museum’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as other accounts of discrimination by managers. “The environment at SFMOMA in particular is hierarchical, competitive, and steeped in white fragility,” they write. The letter calls for current employees and artists to boycott the institution “as a gesture of outrage against institutional oppression” until sweeping changes are made. (ARTnews)

Thieves Arrested in Plot to Steal Rare Books – Two men, a former archivist and a bookstore owner, have been sentenced to several years of house arrest after stealing more than $8 million worth of rare books from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh over 20 years. The valuable trove, which included a volume signed by Thomas Jefferson and a copy of Isaac Newton’s Principia, were snuck out of the library either whole or—to much horror for book lovers—in sections carved out with an X-Acto knife. The library’s board chair says the thefts “will forever raise doubts about the security of all future charitable donations, particularly to the Carnegie Library.” (New York Times)

The Met Will Reopen at the End of August – The Metropolitan Museum of Art—the first major New York museum to shut down back on March 13—has now become the first to announce a concrete reopening date. The institution will welcome visitors again on August 29. Technically, New York museums are permitted to open on July 20, the fourth and final phase of reopening, but the Met expects it will require additional time to prepare. (Staff will return to the building a few weeks before the August reopening date.) The Met will relaunch with “Making The Met, 1870–2020,” an exhibition celebrating its 150th anniversary, and “Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle.” (NYT)

Minneapolis Institute of Art and Walker Art Center Reduce Staff – As American museums begin preparations to reopen with limited capacity and hours, they are continuing to cut staff and slash budgets. The Minneapolis Institute of Art has laid off or bought out 15 percent of its workforce, frozen non-union wages, and slashed leadership pay by 15 percent. Meanwhile, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is laying off 15 workers from its shop and visitor services units as well as 18 part-time gallery assistants, freezing salaries, reducing its pension contributions, and cutting leadership pay (20 percent for the director and 10 percent for senior leadership). (Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Press release)


Hong Kong’s Auction Market Is Getting More Opaque – Amid economic uncertainty, Sotheby’s Hong Kong is experimenting with a new model for selling art that marries “the discretion of a private sale and the urgency of an auction,” according to chief executive Charles Stewart. Bids were placed privately in advance, and then the auction house let bidders raise their offers if they were outbid. It did not disclose the results. (South China Morning Post)

Perrotin Expands in Paris – Perrotin is opening a fourth space in Paris, in the city’s Matignon district. The gallery will have an outdoor space for sculptures and will be directed by Paris senior director Emmanuelle Orenga de Gaffory. (Press release)

Christie’s Secures Spanish Masters for July Sale – Christie’s is including Spanish Modern and contemporary works from the Suñol Soler Collection in the London leg of its global relay auction, “ONE. ” The sale on July 10 will also include a Calder mobile with a high estimate of $4.4 million. (Art Market Monitor)


Chinese Photographer Li Zhensheng Dies – The photographer who documented China’s Cultural Revolution has died at age 79. “I have spent my life striving to bear witness and document history, and now I will rest in history,” he said in a message relayed by his family. Li hid 20,000 negatives in his floorboards after Mao’s death in 1976, when photographers were asked to hand over all documentation of the revolution. (Guardian)

Photographer Anna Bloom Dies at 83 – The German artist known for her spectacular and oddball black-and-white photography, which she made together with her late partner Bernhard, has died at age 83. (Monopol)

Someone Set Fire to Andy Goldsworthy’s Spire – Andy Goldsworthy’s 100-foot-tall work Spire in San Francisco’s Presidio national park was damaged in a suspected arson on Tuesday, June 23. The sculpture is built from the trunks of 37 trees. Forestry crews are assessing whether it can remain in place. (TAN)


Seattle Art Museum Gets Targeted by a Fake Press Release – A satirical news release purportedly from the Seattle Art Museum was issued to the media on Monday announcing that the institution would dissolve by 2022 and transfer all its assets to local BIPOC-led art organizations. Although the text (authored anonymously) stated at the bottom that it was a work of “speculative fiction,” at least one outlet temporarily fell for the ruse. The institution took the setback gamely, saying it was “well-done piece of satire” and that it appreciates the “spirit of calling for change.” (Seattle Times)

Holocaust Memorial in Vienna Breaks Ground – The construction of the Shoah name wall began on Monday in Vienna. The “Memorial to the Jewish Children, Women, and Men from Austria Murdered in the Shoah” will commemorate the more than 64,000 Jews from Austria who were murdered during the Nazi era. After years of discussion, the government decided to cover the cost of the €5.3 million ($6 million) memorial. (Vienna)

A New JR Mural Blooms in Brooklyn – The omnipresent street artist has completed a new monumental installation—one of his portraits of the people who make up a city—on a building in Brooklyn. Using the app “JR Murals,” viewers can now point their phone at the characters pasted into in the windows and learn their stories. The mural is part of the artist’s retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, which closed early due to the lockdown. (Instagram)

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