Category: National Mall

Obama's 2013 budget calls for 5% increase for arts and culture

February 14, 2012 |  6:27 am

President Obama’s proposed 2013 budget, released Monday, calls for a 5% increase in spending for three cultural grantmaking agencies and three Washington, D.C., arts institutions.

Obama aims to boost outlays from $1.501 billion to $1.576 billion, encompassing the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities (NEA and NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Gallery of Art.

The arts and humanities endowments each would get a 5.5% boost, to $154.255 million -- nearly restoring cuts announced in December. But if Congress approves the president’s proposal for the fiscal year that begins in October 2012, the NEA and NEH will still be well short of the $167.5 million each was set to receive before two separate rounds of cuts instigated by Congressional Republicans during 2011.

Obama is proposing $231.9 million for IMLS, a $439,000 reduction.

The Smithsonian Institution, by far the heavy hitter of federal cultural spending, would receive $856.8 million -- a 3.7% hike for its operating budget, which would rise to $660.3 million, and a 12.3% increase in capital expenditures, to $196.5 million. The biggest capital expense would be $85 million, to continue construction on the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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Monster Mash: Martin Luther King Memorial stirs debate about Mall

August 23, 2011 |  7:45 am

Martin Luther King Memorial
Historic figure: The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial assumes its place on the National Mall, renewing the debate over how many monuments should be permitted there. (Los Angeles Times)

Preservation effort: A new study argues that street art by Banksy ought to be given better protection. (BBC News)

Tearjerker: "Ghost: The Musical" is scheduled to open on Broadway in April. (Los Angeles Times)

End of the line: The classical-music critic of the Toronto Star said he has been re-assigned to the paper's business desk. (Toronto Star)

Dancing about candy: The 2000 movie "Chocolat" is being adapted for the stage as a ballet. (BBC News)

Familiar face: Artist Ultra Violet, the muse of Salvador Dali and a friend of Andy Warhol, has unveiled a new work inspired by the Sept. 11 attacks. (New York Daily News)

Cutting back: The union representing Lyric Opera of Chicago's principal singers, dancers and other staff has agreed to a 5% pay reduction. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Back for more: Sahr Ngaujah, who originated the lead role in Broadway's "Fela!," will star in the national tour of the musical. (Broadway World)

Report card: A critical assessment of Des McAnuff's tenure at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. (Toronto Star)

Romantic interest: An interview with Jennifer Damiano, who plays Mary Jane in "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." (Playbill)

Inspiring: A disabled man who cannot speak uses art to communicate. (Chicago Tribune)

Same time next year: The annual Broadway on Broadway concert has been canceled for 2011 due to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. (

Also in the L.A. Times: A profile of the jazz band Ninety Miles, performing on a Cuban-themed program this week at the Hollywood Bowl.

-- David Ng

Photo: The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is seen on the first evening of its "soft opening" ahead of its dedication this weekend in Washington. Credit: Charles Dharapak/ Associated Press

National Irish American Museum has fundraising on its St. Patrick's Day agenda

March 17, 2011 |  6:30 am

GeorgiaOKeeffeToddWebb Here’s a sign of the economic times: An Irish American group is using Thursday’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration to promote their dream of establishing a national Irish American Museum in Washington, D.C., but they say they’re not looking for federal recognition or funds –- at least not for the foreseeable future.

Instead of a lobbying effort, they're focusing on cultivating private donors, hoping that this 250th anniversary of St. Patrick's Day in America will elicit not just the wearing, but the giving of the green.

The Connecticut-based nonprofit group of Irish Americans joins African Americans and Latino Americans among groups bidding to establish a national museum in the capital, devoted to their culture and history in the United States.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture already is established under the umbrella of the Smithsonian Institution, but its exhibitions are currently guests at the National Museum of American History, pending the accumulation of $500 million (half from the federal budget, half privately raised) needed to build a planned home on the National Mall intended to open in 2015.

The National Museum of the American Latino has gotten only to first base, with an official commission established to study the feasibility of another federally funded museum on the mall and report its findings to Congress.

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Smithsonian's African Art museum courts L.A. donors

October 15, 2010 | 10:29 am

What’s a Washington, D.C., museum devoted to the art of Africa doing holding a fundraiser in Santa Monica?

As its name suggests, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art does have one of the more ambitious geographical agendas an art museum could attempt: serving a nation while collecting and exhibiting the art of a continent.

And, says museum spokesman Eddie Burke, it has embarked on a concerted effort to show its flag and raise awareness while adding to its coffers -- including the $250 per person cocktail soiree Saturday evening at the M. Hanks Gallery.

The museum’s 10,000-object collection makes it a leading showcase for African art, but “we have always been regarded as the best-kept secret,” Burke says.

Hence, the fundraising event in Santa Monica, organized by the Sanaa Circle, a recently formed support group that Burke says is “primarily a group of African-American lawyers” who aim to raise money and awareness for the museum. Hosts for the event include Camille Cosby, a member of the museum’s board and wife of Bill Cosby, and her brother, gallerist Eric Hanks (the M in the gallery's name is for his daughter, Monika), who shows African American rather than African art.

Guests will hear what’s what at the museum from Johnnetta Betsch Cole, who became its director last year after a career as president of two historically black women’s colleges, Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C., and Spelman College in Atlanta. Judging from some of the facts and figures on the Smithsonian’s website, Cole has a job ahead of her.

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Monster Mash: Art Institute of Chicago sues over new wing; Kennedy Center gets big donation

September 22, 2010 |  8:14 am


-- Lawsuit: The Art Institute of Chicago is suing a London engineering firm for what it calls delays and shoddy engineering in its Modern Wing addition that opened last year. (Chicago Tribune)

-- Windfall: The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has received a gift of $10 million from its chairman. (Washington Post)

-- Art scandal: A Roy Lichtenstein painting is one of two artworks that are heading back to Brazil after being tangled up in a fraud case. (New York Daily News

-- Drawing the line: The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland has banned tours organized by Holocaust revisionist David Irving. (Warsaw Business Journal)

-- Struck down: A judge in New York has rejected a petition by residents who live near the Museum of Modern Art to have City Council and Planning Commission approvals of a proposed Jean Nouvel skyscraper overturned. (New York Times)

-- Major donation: Bloomberg LP will provide more than $1 million over two years as a naming gift for the creation of a large inflatable architecture project at the Hirshhorn Museum. (Wall Street Journal)

-- Celebrity endorsement: Meryl Streep has voiced support for the creation of a National Women's History Museum on the National Mall. (Associated Press via Washington Examiner)

-- Reprising roles: Lily Rabe and Jesse L. Martin will assume the roles they played in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," alongside Al Pacino, when the Public Theater's Central Park production transfers to Broadway. (Playbill)

-- Detournement: A French artist is doing unconventional things with the logos of major financial services firms. (Bloomberg)

-- And in the L.A. Times: Theater critic Charles McNulty reviews Tim Robbins' new play, "Break the Whip" at the Ivy Substation; a new architectural design is unveiled for the planned Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem; Jerry Seinfeld will make his Broadway directorial debut this fall.

-- David Ng

Photo: The Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago. Credit: Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune

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 Nürnberg." 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

Monster Mash: new leader for Alvin Ailey; more of Anne Frank's diary on display; Banksy's name game

April 29, 2010 |  7:51 am

Alvinailey -- Top job: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has chosen choreographer Robert Battle as its new artistic director to succeed Judith Jamison, who is retiring in 2011. (New York Times)

-- Wartime record: Nearly all of Anne Frank's diary -- including notebooks and pages that had been stored in Dutch government archives -- is on display for the first time at the house in Amsterdam where the Jewish teenager hid from the Nazis. (Associated Press)

-- In exchange: British graffiti artist Banksy has given the members of a London band once called Exit Through the Gift Shop a huge $300,000 painting after they agreed to change their name so he could use their old moniker as the title of his new film. (Telegraph)

-- Guitar hero: A patchwork full-length leather coat and other personal items belonging to '60s rock icon Jimi Hendrix will go on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington this summer. Hendrix's grandmother was Cherokee. (United Press International)

-- Going underground: London's Old Vic theater is taking over a series of tunnels beneath Waterloo Station as a space for performances, film screenings and curated art exhibitions. (The Art Newspaper)

-- Grand finale: Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, South African soprano Pretty Yende and Canadian rocker Bryan Adams will perform in a July concert in Johannesburg, South Africa, to mark the end of soccer's World Cup. (Associated Press)

And in the Los Angeles Times: Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne offers city officials advice on what to ask of billionaire Eli Broad if he wants to use a Grand Avenue site for his art museum; Tony winner Sutton Foster is bringing her new one-woman show to the Kirk Douglas Theatre; the Huntington Library will present the first exhibit from its Charles Bukowski collection this fall.

--Karen Wada

Photo: Matthew Rushing, Renee Robinson and Constance Stamatiou of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa in March. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Old dog, not-so-new tricks

April 21, 2010 | 11:15 am

Hirshhorn Wednesday's Washington Post reports that L.A. artist Doug Aitken has been commissioned to design a new museum shop for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The bookstore is expected to cost between $500,000 and $750,000 and will be paid for largely from the Hirshhorn's acquisition budget.

Already more than one Twitterer is asking, "On what planet is the re-design of a museum bookstore an 'acquisition,' funded through the acquisition budget?!"

Answer: planet Earth.

More specifically: Yonkers, N.Y., circa 1979. (Insert "planet Earth" joke here.)

The precedent is unmentioned in the Washington Post story, but that's the year the little Hudson River Museum commissioned artist Red Grooms to design its bookstore as a collection purchase. The project was even partly paid for with an acquisitions grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Who came up with the Yonkers idea? Former Hudson River Museum director (and former Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles director) Richard Koshalek. Today, Koshalek is director of, yes, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

The scheme was cheeky 30 years ago, back when contemporary art was a hard sell for most museums and facilities fundraising was a stretch. Today? Not so much.

-- Christopher Knight

Follow Times art critic Christopher Knight on Twitter: @KnightLAT

Photo: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Credit: Smithsonian Institution

Monster Mash: Celebrity art collectors; repaired Picasso returns to the Met; a $9.5-million carpet

April 21, 2010 |  8:38 am

Getprev-9 --Star power: Jennifer Aniston, Christina Aguilera, Tobey Maguire, Beyonce and Jay-Z are among a growing number of celebrities who've become avid art collectors. (ARTINFO)

--Glory days: James Brown's cape, Ella Fitzgerald's yellow dress and Miles Davis' fluegelhorn will be among a trove of mementos on display in a Washington exhibit celebrating Harlem's storied Apollo Theater. (Associated Press)

--Restored: Picasso's "The Actor" has been rehung -- under plexiglass -- at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York after conservators repaired a 6-inch tear caused by a woman who accidentally fell into the canvas. (New York Times)

Getprev-10--Record rug sale: A mid-17th century southeast Persian Kirman "vase carpet"-- which had an estimated value of about $300,000 -- has sold for a record $9.53 million. (Daily Telegraph)
--Casualties of war: Berlin's Free University is putting online a database of more than 21,000 artworks condemned as "degenerate" by the Nazis and seized from German museums in 1937. (Bloomberg)

--Softer side: An unpublished sketch that shows the often curmudgeonly Mark Twain (a.k.a. Samuel Langhorne Clemens) as family man and loving father will be among 200 of the author's manuscripts, letters and photographs that will go up for auction in New York. (Associated Press)

--While you wait: Travelers from Iceland stuck in New York because of volcanic ash can show their passports and get two free tickets to the comic thriller "The 39 Steps" at New World Stages off-Broadway. (Playbill)

Also in the Los Angeles Times: Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne looks at Brasilia at 50; music critic Mark Swed reviews the JACK Quartet's in-the-dark performance of Georg Friedrich Haas' "In iij. Noct" in Pasadena; TV and film actor Kevin Tighe stars in "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo" at the Mark Taper Forum, and Michael Jackson's estate and Cirque du Soleil will collaborate on several ventures including a reality TV program tied to a concert-style touring production and a permanent show in Las Vegas.

-- Karen Wada

Upper photo: Tobey Maguire. Credit: Associated Press

Lower photo: Jennifer Aniston. Credit: Carlos Alvarez / Getty Images

First look at Frank Gehry's Eisenhower Memorial

March 25, 2010 |  4:18 pm


Preliminary designs unveiled this afternoon for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, designed by Frank Gehry, combine the architect's trademark energetic and jumbled forms with a sense of subdued, essentially neoclassical order and rhythm.

After winning a design competition for the memorial a year ago, Gehry and his firm were asked to produce three separate design options, one of which was chosen today by the 12 members of Eisenhower Memorial Commission.

The memorial to the 34th president will be built on a four-acre site along Independence Avenue, close to but not directly on the National Mall and backing up to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building. That separation from the Mall, according to a statement from Gehry's office, gives the location "an urban quality that is unique among the other major memorials."

The chosen design concept is the grandest of the options presented by Gehry's office, though anyone expecting to see the flamboyant forms the architect has sometimes employed will likely be surprised by the memorial's generally straightforward and rather historically minded approach. Gehry's statement said the underlying goal of the design is to represent "a president widely viewed as modest in character but defined by great and vast accomplishments."

The design, which Gehry and his colleagues will flesh out in the months to come, combines a grove of oak trees, two parallel colonnades of limestone pillars and loosely piled limestone walls carved with sculptural reliefs -- elements common to all three proposals -- with a series of woven steel-mesh tapestries that will feature images of Eisenhower and his presidency. There is a gap in the colonnade as it runs along Independence, creating an opening framing views of the Capitol and also marking an informal pedestrian entry into the memorial site.

While the oak trees should provide plenty of shade -- along with pockets of contemplative space -- the tapestries will give much of the memorial the feeling of an expansive outdoor stage set. Gehry came up with the idea for the steel-mesh panels while exploring the tapestry collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where his firm has been working on an expansion.

More images after the jump. Click any of them to enlarge.

-- Christopher Hawthorne

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