Preview

Nancy Kenney

Nancy Kenney is Senior Editor at The Art Newspaper

Analysis
The Year in Review 2020

Museums 2020: the year of crashing revenues and anti-racism disputes

Turbulent year draws to a close with sector wracked by pandemic lockdowns and Black Lives Matter challenges

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Resignations

After controversy over her leadership, Stanford says director of its Cantor Arts Center has resigned

Museum undertook an investigation of Susan Dackerman’s allegedly “toxic” leadership style and departures of many staff members

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Museums & Heritage

Smithsonian and National Gallery of Art will shut down again amid spike in coronavirus cases

Move by Washington, DC museums comes amid a wave of new US closures

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Architecture

Architect Emilio Ambasz’s foundation donates $10m to MoMA to create a green architecture institute

New entity will spur research on the relationship between architecture and nature and work toward “environmental justice”, the New York museum says

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Museums & Heritage

‘From bad to worse’: over half of US museums have laid off or furloughed staff, survey shows

Museums expect to lose an average of 35% of budgeted income this year, plus an additional 28% in 2021

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Nagorno-Karabakh

Metropolitan Museum of Art appeals for protection of cultural heritage sites in Nagorno-Karabakh

Plea comes as Azerbaijan moves to take control of swaths of territory under a Russian-brokered peace deal

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Openings

Challenges overcome as Houston's Museum of Fine Arts completes $450m campus expansion

Delayed by just three weeks amid the pandemic, new Kinder Building will dramatically increase space for Modern and contemporary art

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Museums & Heritage

Unesco under fire for using Met objects in anti-trafficking campaign

Advertisements said that the works were looted in recent years, but Met documentation shows that they have a much longer provenance

Preview
Exhibitions

When Boston fell head-over-heels in love with Monet

A new show at the Museum of Fine Arts recalls the time when the US city was first captivated by the French Impressionist

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Polls

A ‘snapshot in time’: how US museum directors viewed their world before the pandemic

In a sign of how drastically things would change, fewer than half prioritised online offerings in a wide-ranging survey

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election 2020

Art world rejoices in Biden’s win of US presidency

Artists, collectors, policy makers and gallery owners share their reactions after the tightly fought election

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Philip Guston

After tumult, museums say that a delayed Philip Guston exhibition will open in 2022

Citing “unease and anxiety” about the show, the director of MFA, Boston predicts it will spur “in-depth discussions about great art”

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layoffs

Keith Davis, senior curator at Nelson-Atkins, resigns to protest colleague's layoff

Museum’s drive to cut 36 jobs eliminated the position of photography curator Jane L. Aspinwall, who helped oversee acclaimed collection

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Architectural History

New York preservation group launches online mapping tool to champion former haunts of artists and activists

Organisation hopes the city will protect former home of Jackson Pollock and other buildings south of Union Square by designating a new historic district

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Deaccessioning

Baltimore Museum of Art calls off sale of Warhol, Still and Marden after outcry

Last-gasp decision after talks with the US museum directors association comes just before a Sotheby’s auction

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Deaccessioning

US Association of Art Museum Directors sends a warning note to its members on deaccessioning

As works head to market, organisation reminds members that its relaxed rules were not adopted to “incentivise” art sales

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Deaccessioning

Assailing leadership, two former board chairmen say they are rescinding $50m in planned gifts to Baltimore Museum of Art

Two artists also step down as board trustees amid turmoil over plans to deaccession three paintings

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Deaccessioning

Responding to outcry, Baltimore Museum of Art board chair defends deaccessioning decision

“The greatness of the BMA’s collection does not live within three individual paintings,” she says as the sale of a Warhol, Still and Marden approaches

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Prizes

Deana Lawson, photographer of highly staged tableaux, wins the Hugo Boss Prize

The artist, the first photographer anointed, will receive $100,000 and a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim

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Jacob Lawrence

Missing for decades, a Jacob Lawrence painting surfaces in response to a Met exhibition

A visitor makes the connection between the artist’s Struggle series and a work in a neighbour’s home

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Appointments & departures

'We are not a suburb of Paris': incoming director of Montreal Museum of Fine Arts champions a North American identity

Stéphane Aquin is taking over after Nathalie Bondil’s controversial dismissal

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Appointments

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts appoints new director

Stéphane Aquin faces the challenge of restoring stability after Nathalie Bondil’s disputed removal

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Deaccessioning

Former trustees and donors ask state to block sale of three important works by the Baltimore Museum of Art

Letter asks Maryland attorney general and secretary of state to investigate planned deaccessioning of a Warhol, Still and Marden

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Deaccessioning

Brooklyn Museum steams ahead on deaccessioning

After netting $4.2m for a Cranach, the museum plans to sell off works by Monet, Dubuffet, Degas, Miró and Matisse

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Ethics

Inquiry into actions by Detroit Institute of Arts director and board chair found no misconduct, museum says

Law firm hired by the Detroit museum found no conflict of interest in loan of art from director's family, it adds

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Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Tom Gores steps down from Lacma board after pressure over prison telecom ties

Billionaire investor argues in his resignation letter that he pushed for reforms

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Museum architecture

Space race: how the pandemic is pushing museums to rethink design

Experts predict bigger galleries, a stronger connection to the outdoors and an end to the expansion juggernaut

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Exhibitions

Fulfilling a legendary curator’s vision, New Museum will present an exhibition on grief in black communities

Show conceived by Okwui Enwezor will unite works by 37 artists exploring mourning and loss as a response to violent injustice

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Deaccessioning

Baltimore Museum of Art will sell important paintings by Warhol, Still and Marden

Acting on relaxed rules, it will use the funds for collection care and salary increases as well as diverse acquisitions

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Whitney Biennial

Whitney postpones 2021 biennial by one year

Pandemic complicated organisational efforts by curators and stymied artists

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Coronavirus resources

Building on Covid-19 effort, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation details $1.5m in grants for small museums, artists and equity initiatives

Recipients range from Grey Art Gallery at NYU to a truck that transports art books to underserved communities

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Appointments

Poet and author to lead National Museum of African American History and Culture

Kevin Young, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, will succeed Lonnie G. Bunch III

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Resignations

Director of Rubin Museum of Art will depart in 2021

Jorrit Britschgi, who has led the institution since 2017, will rejoin his family in Switzerland

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Resignations

MoMA PS1 and the Kitchen announce key leaders’ departures

Chief curator at MoMA PS1 cites coronavirus pandemic, “which moved me to think about the next chapters”

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Philanthropy

Amid pandemic, foundations marshal $156m to support minority arts organisations in the US

Funds are intended to counter the devastation that the coronavirus has wrought in the national arts landscape

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Conservation & Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation lists 11 most endangered historic sites in US

Locations range from the Chicago church where Emmett Till’s body was viewed, galvanising the civil rights movement, to a ‘Hall of Waters’ in Missouri

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Museums & Heritage

Stone, bronze, glass, pathways: Princeton University Art Museum unveils David Adjaye's design

Pavilions linked by transparent “lenses” will dispense with hierarchies and display renowned collection on a single level

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Acquisitions

American Folk Art Museum announces gift of over 500 works by self-taught artists

Trove donated by collector Audrey B. Heckler includes examples of European Art Brut and works by African-American artists

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diversity

Rockefeller Brothers Fund plans $1.5m in grants to help New York museums promote diverse artists

Financial aid will help eight institutions “disrupt dominant narratives” and “build back a more equitable culture” after Covid lockdown

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Museums

Citing pandemic, V&A and Smithsonian drop plan to co-curate a gallery in London

After cancellation of project for V&A East, the institutions say they still plan to cooperate on an internship programme

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Deaccessioning

Cranach, Courbet and Corot: a closer look at what the Brooklyn Museum is selling off

The institution is deaccessioning its only Cranach and 11 other works to finance care of its collection

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Conservation & Preservation

As the world contends with Covid, World Monuments Fund makes a bet on sustainable tourism

Taking a lesson from how the pandemic dispersed crowds, the organisation selects seven sites for preservation and promotion

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Museum trustees

Groups call for removal of Lacma trustee tied to ‘exploitative’ telecommunications company

Organisations target Tom Gores, whose firm invests in a corporation accused of charging prison inmates “egregious” rates for calls

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Museums & Heritage

Activist employee group demands resignations of three Guggenheim leaders

But support for the statement, alleging “oppressive behaviours” by director, chief operating officer and chief curator, is unclear

Preview
Contemporary art

Artist transforms Gilded Age pool house into an atmospheric soundscape

To evoke a watershed moment in society, Jorge Otero-Pailos has filled an abandoned natatorium with sounds recorded from bodies of water in New York State

Review
Three to see

Three exhibitions to see in New York this weekend

From Betye Saar's travel sketchbooks at the Morgan Library and Museum to Rivane Neuenschwander's tapestries at Tanya Bonakdar gallery

Interview
Museums & Heritage

Director of Yale Center for British Art embraces a global framework

Courtney J. Martin explains why it is time to reposition the Paul Mellon collection

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diversity

After 2019 racial incident, MFA Boston hires a senior director of belonging and inclusion

Appointment follows an agreement with the Massachusetts attorney general to embrace diversity and adopt an anti-harassment policy

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Smithsonian Institution

‘Estamos unidos’: proposal for a new Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino awaits Senate consideration

After passage in the House, planners try to line up support for an institution that would fill in an incomplete US narrative

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Donors

Smithsonian confirms that its donor data was potentially breached in ransomware attack

Hacking of Blackbaud software systems exposed hundreds of clients, including other US and UK nonprofits

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diversity

Getty announces internship programme to counter lack of diversity among art conservators

Noting barriers to students of colour, it establishes yearlong training stints with $30,000 grants

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Museums & Heritage

Four weeks after blast, rehabilitation work begins at National Museum of Beirut

Louvre collaborates with Lebanon’s antiquities authority on repairs to doors, windows and security system

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Exhibitions

Brisbane lands mammoth European loan exhibition from the Met

Gallery of Modern Art is sole venue for a show resulting partly from a skylight renovation project at the New York museum

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Public art

Central Park gets its first monument honouring women’s rights advocates on 100th anniversary of suffrage

Hillary Clinton attended the unveiling of the statue depicting Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth

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Exhibitions

After controversial cancellation in Cleveland, Mass MoCA will exhibit Shaun Leonardo’s images of Black victims

Drawings exploring systemic violence and injustice will also travel to Bronx Museum of the Arts

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Museums & Heritage

Joseph Thompson to step down after 32 years as director of Mass MoCA

Having led the contemporary art institution since its founding, he will serve as a special counsel to the board of trustees

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Museums & Heritage

Four years after closing museum, National Academy of Design envisages a New York exhibition space

Newly appointed executive director sees potential for a wealth of new initiatives

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diversity

Guggenheim adopts a plan to become more inclusive and racially diverse

Initiative follows accusations by employees of entrenched racism at the New York museum

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reopenings

New York clears the way for the city's museums to reopen

MoMA, the Whitney, the Morgan, the American Folk Art Museum, the New Museum, the Guggenheim and the Brooklyn Museum announce plans to welcome the public, joining the Met and the New-York Historical Society

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Acquisitions

Hirshhorn to unveil two acquisitions as it reopens its sculpture garden

Museum welcomes monumental 2018 works by Huma Bhabha and Sterling Ruby

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Museum directors

Employees at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts argue that director’s ouster was justified

In a letter, over 100 current and former staff members say she presided over chaos, harassment and intimidation

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Acquisitions

Oregon foundation acquires Judy Chicago print archive

Over 300 works chart the career of a feminist pioneer in revelatory detail

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Unions

Union accuses New Museum of ‘discriminatory’ layoffs and furloughs

Complaint to the National Labor Relations Board accuses institution of retaliating against bargaining unit members

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layoffs

Met lays off 79 more employees and furloughs 181, as it faces a ‘very different’ financial picture

Museum hoped to reopen on 29 August but the prospect remains uncertain amid coronavirus restrictions

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Philanthropy

Metropolitan Museum of Art commits to paying all interns after $5m gift

Adrienne Arsht's donation will fund the museum’s internship programme and the MetLiveArts performance series

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layoffs

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston lays off 57 employees and says 56 more will take early retirement

The museum notes that the coronavirus outbreak will continue to affect it “in the long term”

Podcast

Ready to see some art? The top exhibitions of the summer

Plus, the artist Hassan Hajjaj on a Dr Alimantado album cover

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Restitution

‘I had lost hope’: The story behind a Nazi-looted Madonna and long-delayed compensation to Jewish heirs

The 93-year-old heir Grete Unger Heinz recalls contemplating a Jacopo del Sellaio painting as a child in Vienna

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Antiquities

California man is charged with illegally importing an ancient mosaic, possibly from Syria

Indictment says the paperwork misrepresented the work’s quality and value

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Museums & Heritage

US House votes to establish a National Museum of the American Latino

Bill calls for an institution honouring the contributions of a population that numbers nearly 60 million

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Artists

With public programming derailed, Governors Island buildings will be opened to New York artists

Groups invite cultural practitioners to apply for residencies stretching over the next three months

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Art education

San Francisco Art Institute says it is reinstating degree programmes

Decision follows the resolution of contract disputes with tenured faculty and an infusion of funds

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Museums & Heritage

One out of three US museums may shut down forever, a survey confirms

Institutions report decline in operating reserves and planned reductions in museum services like education

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Exhibitions

‘I want people to know how it feels’: quilt exhibitions will explore police brutality and racism

Shows in Twin Cities to offer a historical snapshot of tumult in the US

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Museums & Heritage

Coalition calls for removal of director of Detroit Institute of Arts

Anonymous current and former staff members describe “hostile and chaotic work culture” under Salvador Salort-Pons

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Museums & Heritage

New York's Frick Collection will open at Madison Avenue location in early 2021

After the Met vacates the Breuer building, the Frick will take over with a chronological presentation of masterworks

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Unions

In a virtual rally, Carnegie Museums employees launch union organising drive

Goals include a greater role in decision-making at the four Pittsburgh institutions, which reopened Monday

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Job losses

Art Institute of Chicago lays off 51 employees

Cuts come as US museums slash costs in response to loss of revenue

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Keith Haring

Once hidden, Keith Haring’s Amsterdam mural is ready for restoration

Conservators will repair paint losses and weatherproof a work that the artist executed “in a sort of frenzy” in 1986

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Job losses

Philadelphia Museum of Art to eliminate more than 20% of its staff

Loss of jobs comes amid plunge in revenue from coronavirus shutdown

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reopenings

Met plans to reopen flagship building on 29 August after five-month shutdown

Other New York museums are expected to follow its lead, but it all depends on the city entering Phase 4 of reopening

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Museums & Heritage

Seattle Art Museum responds gamely to fake news release saying it is dissolving

Institution says announcement that it will be run by organisations led by black and indigenous Americans was “a well-done piece of satire”

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diversity

Curators at Guggenheim demand ‘urgent’ reforms of racial inequities at museum

In a letter to management, they call for minority hiring efforts and an inquiry into the treatment of guest curator

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Conservation & Preservation

Menokin preservation project offers a literal window onto layers of Virginia history

Structural glass replaces missing walls and floors of a 1769 house, exposing indelible links to slavery

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Protests

Protest letter urges New York art institutions to rectify ‘egregious acts’ rooted in white supremacy

Signatories cite “unfair practices”, unequal pay and lack of diversity

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Protests

National Trust for Historic Preservation supports removal of Confederate statues that glorify white power

Trust says such monuments “do not reflect, and are in fact abhorrent to, our values”

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Acquisitions

Giuseppe Penone presents two big gifts of drawings to Philadelphia Museum of Art and Centre Pompidou

Arte Povera sculptor hopes that his donations of hundreds of works on paper will start a dialogue

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Philanthropy

Citing devastating coronavirus impact, five US foundations plan to increase payouts to strapped nonprofits by $1.7bn

In a novel strategy, at least three of the foundations will borrow money to finance giving

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Unions

Labour organising committee assails Philadelphia museum’s use of a ‘union avoidance’ law firm

Employees call on the museum to take a position of neutrality in any union vote

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Protests

MCA Chicago renounces future contracts with police until changes are made

Museums calls for policies that “respect black communities”

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Protests

Former Whitney vice chairman divests businesses marketing aggressive crowd-control technology

Corporation owned by Warren B. Kanders, whose links to tear gas led to his museum ouster, is selling off divisions associated with aggressive tactics

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Racial injustice

MOCA Cleveland apologises to black artist whose show it cancelled

Shaun Leonardo, who depicted victims of police violence, has accused the museum of censorship

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Three to see

Three initiatives that explore racial inequality and the long fight for justice in the US

From Google Arts & Culture's digital platform exploring the culture of black experience to the Smithsonian's new Talking About Race portal

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Walker Art Center

Citing killing, Walker Art Center says it will suspend use of police services for special events

Museum calls for holding Minneapolis officers accountable for excessive force and treating people of colour with respect

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Protests

Nelson-Atkins Museum director pledges to re-establish trust after police use campus to stage response to protests

After asking that squad cars leave the grounds, he says police presence caused deep “hurt”

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Museums & Heritage

Amid turbulent US protests, Smithsonian's African American museum opens a conversation about race

Goal of online portal is to spur dialogue about racism and its “corrosive impact”

Interview
coronavirus

Putting our heads together: the three Guggenheim directors size up post-Covid challenges

With museums in Bilbao and Venice poised to reopen, while New York remains in lockdown, Richard Armstrong, Juan Ignacio Vidarte and Karole Vail talk about weathering the financial crisis

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Landscape architecture

Board will revisit vote that would allow demolition of site-specific work at National Geographic Society’s home in Washington, DC

Board members say they were unaware that renovation plan would sacrifice Elyn Zimmerman’s installation

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Acquisitions

A valentine to New York City, in a gift of 130 urban scenes by Chagall, O'Keeffe, Hockney and other artists

Philanthropic couple’s promised donation to New-York Historical Society boosts collection’s 20th-century holdings