Art Industry News: Korean Mayors Are Hunting for Any Possible Tie to the Samsung Family as They Vie for Its Art Trove + Other Stories

Plus, the staff of the Brooklyn Museum are the latest to launch a union push, and Germany launches an exchange program with African museums.

Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-Hee. Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images.

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, May 26.


Only Five Percent of L.A. Board Members Are Black – A 2017 survey of 800 museums conducted by the American Alliance of Museums found that 89 percent of museum board members in the U.S. identified as white. One year after the Black Lives Matter movement reignited in 2020, the Los Angeles Times surveyed 10 major Southern California museums and 10 performing arts organizations to see how these figures have evolved. It found that 19.5 percent of board members did not identify as white, and of those, just 18 of 334, or 5.4 percent, were Black. (Los Angeles Times)

Germany Launches African Museum Exchange Program – A new German government initiative will bring together German and African museum professionals to discuss collaboration, decolonization, and restitution. The pilot project, MuseumsLab, launched on May 19 with around 20 German participants and 28 from 10 African countries. It will culminate with three-week placements for participants at German museums this fall. (The Art Newspaper)

Cities in South Korea Compete for the Samsung Art Trove – Museums in South Korea are vying for a chunk of the 23,000-work collection assembled by the late chairman of the Samsung empire after Lee Kun-hee’s family said they would donate it alongside an $11 billion inheritance tax bill. Mayors in Daegu, where Lee Kun-hee was born, and Busan, where he lived during the Korean War, as well as at least nine others, are talking up their towns as the best place to house the world-class collection, which is valued at around $2.2 billion. (Wall Street Journal)

Brooklyn Museum Staff Push to Form a Union – The Brooklyn Museum is the latest institution to see a union push among its staff. Just over a week after employees at the Whitney Museum and the Hispanic Society filed petitions with the Technical, Office and Professional Union Local 2110 UAW, the Brooklyn Museum did the same on May 25. The union would include conservators, curators, educators, editors, visitor services and retail staff. (Press release)


We’re Experiencing a Pop Culture Auction Boom – The Guardian asks: Is celebrity memorabilia the new Monet? Merchandise ranging from costumes worn by K-pop band BTS to the personal effects of Janet Jackson have recently shattered estimates at the specialist auction house Julien’s. “A collector recently told me: ‘It’s cooler to hang John Lennon’s guitar on my wall than a Monet or Picasso,’” said Darren Julien, the house’s owner. (Guardian)

AFIKARIS Opens a Space in Paris – Previously an online platform and showroom, contemporary African art gallery AFIKARIS is opening a new physical space in Paris’s Marais district. Its inaugural exhibition, a solo show of work by the up-and-coming Cameroonian artist Jean David Nkot, will be on view from May 29 through July 7. (Press release)


Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Taps New Top Curator – Allison Glenn has been named senior curator and director of public art at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Glenn, who begins her new role on August 1, was previously associate curator of contemporary art at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas. She was also the powerhouse behind for the Breonna Taylor exhibition “Promise, Witness, Remembrance” at the Speed Art Museum. (Glenn discussed the show recently on the Art Angle.) (Houston Chronicle)

Newfields Puts Director’s House on the Market – Following the ouster of its longtime director Charles Venable, Newfields (formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art) has put a property that used to house its leader on the market. The Westerley house and gardens, which has four bedrooms and eight (!) bathrooms, is listed at $2.2 million. (Indianapolis Business Journal)


Turner Prize Winners Join Visual Arts for Palestine – All four winners of last year’s Turner Prize—Helen Cammock, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani—are among the artists to endorse the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli arts organizations as well as those with ties to Israel through the campaign #VisualArtsforPalestine. (Press release)

Stained Glass Museum Acquires a Kehinde Wiley – The Stained Glass Art Museum in Cambridgeshire, U.K., has acquired a stained glass piece by Kehinde Wiley. In Saint Adelaide, the artist substitutes a young Black man from Brooklyn, Mark Shavers, for a figure of the female saint. (Instagram)

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