Category: Metropolitan Museum of Art

The story behind Ringo Starr's gold-plated drum headed to New York's Met

July 1, 2010 |  5:47 pm


New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is known for its grand exhibitions of iconic visual artists, most of them dead, but also a few living ones who have attained high-ranking stature in their fields.

So it struck many in the art world as strange when the museum announced this week that it would be taking a step -- albeit a small step -- in the direction of pop culture by displaying former Beatle Ringo Starr's gold-plated snare drum that he used while still performing with the band. 

The snare drum comes from the Ludwig Drum Company and was used during the Beatles' 1964 U.S. tour. It will be displayed at the Met from July 7 to the end of 2010 to commemorate Starr's 70th birthday.

The Met's musical-instrument department, which is organizing the display, specializes in instruments from the baroque and classical periods, as well as non-European instruments from Asia and Africa. 

Jayson Kerr Dobney, the associate curator of the department, said the uncharacteristic detour into rock music came about when Starr was at the museum recently to tape an installment of the PBS series "Live from the Artists Den."

"I'm an amateur drummer, so I had known about this iconic gold drum and I asked him if he would consider loaning it to us for a while," said Dobney. "He said that he would be honored to."

The curator said the museum doesn't have rock instruments in its permanent collection, but that doesn't mean it won't consider them down the road. "These things are becoming so iconic," he said. "It may not seem like they're from all that long ago, but they're from a turning point in history, and many have already attained an important cultural stature."

He added that unlike other curatorial areas of the museum, the musical-instruments department considers works from all periods of history. "We take it day by day," said Dobney. "If something appears to be important to us historically, we would consider it."

According to the museum, the drum was given to him by the Ludwig Drum Company in Chicago in appreciation of popularizing the Ludwig name -- visible on the front of the large bass drum --  during the band's February 1964 appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

The drum will be displayed as part of the museum's musical-instrument galleries, which have recently reopened following an eight-month hiatus.

-- David Ng

Photo: Ringo Starr, with other members of the Beatles and friends, and his gold-plated snare drum. Credit: Ludwig Drums / Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Monster Mash: Metropolitan Museum of Art sees attendance surge; big changes for London's Saatchi Gallery

July 1, 2010 |  8:02 am


-- Big crowds: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York said attendance passed the 5-million mark in the last fiscal year -- its highest attendance since 2001. The Museum of Modern art reported earlier this week that it also saw attendance surge in the latest fiscal year. (Associated Press)

-- Planning ahead: Charles Saatchi plans to hand over his London gallery to the U.K. when he retires, renaming it MOCA London (Museum of Contemporary Art, London). (The Guardian)

-- Voicing displeasure: Placido Domingo offers some criticism of theater directors who work in the world of opera. (, via Washington Post)

-- All-seeing: Chicago reacts to its latest large-scale public artwork, a sculpture of an eyeball by artist Tony Tasset. (Chicago Tribune)

-- Royal pain: Prince Charles finds himself in the middle of a highly public architectural debate. (The Guardian)

-- Celebrity sighting: Lady Gaga visits the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Mass., to view a Polaroid exhibition. (Boston Globe)

-- Phased out: Composer Edward Elgar is being kicked off the 20-pound note in the U.K. in favor of Adam Smith. (BBC News)

-- Honored: The Ulster Museum in Northern Ireland has won the Art Fund prize, one of the biggest art awards in the U.K. (The Guardian)

-- Passing: The New York graffiti artist known as Rammellzee has died at age 49 after a long illness. (New York Times)

-- And in the L.A. Times: the Autry National Center is to create Native American galleries in Griffith Park and an annex in Burbank; reporter Hector Tobar is inspired at the Huntington to remember the Edendale neighborhood of L.A.

-- David Ng

Photo: inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Monster Mash: Whitney Museum plans a new home; Tony presenters named; more troubles at Cincinnati Opera

May 26, 2010 |  7:44 am

Johansson-tony --Room to grow: The board of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York has approved a plan to build a six-story Renzo Piano-designed building downtown. The Whitney also says it is in talks to lease its current home on the Upper East Side to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Wall Street Journal)

--Name-dropping: The presenters at the 64th annual Tony Awards will include Broadway and Hollywood stars such as Antonio Banderas, Cate Blanchett, Michael Douglas, Kelsey Grammer, Scarlett Johansson, Lea Michele, Helen Mirren, Matthew Morrison, Bernadette Peters, David Hyde Pierce, Liev Schreiber, Denzel Washington and Raquel Welch. (Playbill)

--Bluegrass visit: Gustavo Dudamel will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in what may seem an unlikely locale -- Kentucky horse country -- as part of the Fortnight Festival that accompanies the World Equestrian Games in September. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

--Departures: Three more singers have left Cincinnati Opera's June production of Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von N├╝rnberg." The centerpiece of the company's 90th-anniversary season already has lost conductor James Levine and two of its stars. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

--Riding the wave: The Brooklyn Academy of Music's 2010 Next Wave Festival will include the American premiere of Laurie Anderson's "Delusion," a New Orleans tribute from "Treme's" Trombone Shorty and a song-cycle from "Passing Strange's" Stew and his band, the Negro Problem. (Village Voice

--Stories to tell: Stage and screen director Baz Luhrmann has opened a multimedia installation in Hong Kong that he says explores the narrative potential of paintings. (Associated Press

--Cutbacks: The Art Institute of Chicago has laid off about 65 people, the second round of staff reductions since June 2009, when 22 employees were let go. (Chicago Tribune)

--World Cup singer dies: South African tenor Siphiwo Ntshebe, who had been chosen by Nelson Mandela to perform at the World Cup opening ceremony in Johannesburg in June, has died of meningitis. He was 34. (BBC News)

--German soprano: Opera singer Anneliese Rothenberger, who sang at La Scala in Milan and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, has died at 83 in Switzerland. (AFP)

--And in the Los Angeles Times: After reading reviews of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's national tour, media columnist James Rainey wonders if some Gustavo Dudamel naysayers are showing their East Coast bias; an exhibition at the California African American Museum pays tribute to the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

-- Karen Wada

Photo: Scarlett Johansson will be among the presenters at this year's Tony Awards. Credit: Henry S. Dziekan III / Getty Images

Michael Ovitz on Michael Crichton, and the Jasper Johns flags of their dreams [Updated]

May 11, 2010 |  9:00 am

D5313636l Michael Ovitz has one. David Geffen has another. Eli Broad has a couple. Just what is it about Jasper Johns's early "Flag" paintings that make some blue-chip collectors seem so, well, patriotic?

You can hear Ovitz rhapsodizing about the painted stars and stripes for yourself. For along with the usual auction catalogue for Tuesday night's sale of the Michael Crichton estate, which includes a 1960-66 "Flag" (right) among other works, Christie's has also produced a marketing video about the bestselling author and his appetite for art.

The cast of characters includes Christie's contemporary co-head Brett Gorvy, Crichton's fifth wife Sherri (one of the many heirs to his complicated estate) and master printmaker Ken Tyler.

But the star turn belongs to Ovitz, who was Crichton's agent for 30 years.

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