Category: Smithsonian

Smithsonian embracing digital 3-D technology

February 28, 2012 | 11:55 am


Hollywood isn't the only industry to embrace digital 3-D technology. The art world has also taken a shine to the medium, implementing it in diverse ways to make works of art more accessible to the public. The latest institution to jump on the bandwagon is the Smithsonian in Washington.

The Smithsonian Institution is embarking on a project to create 3-D images of art, including a new digital 3-D archive of many of the objects in its collections, CNET recently reported.

The project also includes 3-D printed models, exhibits and scientific replicas, according to the report. One of the objectives is to make the Smithsonian's vast collections -- only a small percentage of which is on display at any given time -- viewable to the online public.

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Obamas attend groundbreaking for African American history museum

February 22, 2012 |  1:50 pm

Obama celebrates construction of African American history museum, with singer Denyce Graves

The Smithsonian Institution officially broke ground this morning on the National Museum of African American History and Culture, slated to open in 2015. Located on the National Mall, the Smithsonian's 19th museum will be a $500-million complex dedicated to documenting the life, art, history and culture of African Americans.

Though work had already begun on the site, Wednesday's fete marked the official start of construction and included remarks from President Obama, former First Lady Laura Bush, Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis -- an icon of the civil rights era -- and was emceed by actress Phylicia Rashad, best known for her role as Claire Huxtable in the 1980s sitcom "The Cosby Show."

The ceremony also included performances from opera singers Denyce Graves (who sang the national anthem, pictured above) and Thomas Hampson, as well as jazz pianist Jason Moran, who played Duke Ellington's "I Like the Sunrise."

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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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Clint Eastwood makes the Smithsonian's day

February 2, 2012 |  7:05 am


Clint Eastwood made the Smithsonian Institution's day by paying a visit to the National Museum of American History in Washington to help inaugurate a new screening room dedicated to presenting the history of Hollywood.

The screening room bears the name of Warner Bros., which donated $5 million to the Smithsonian for the creation of the facility. Eastwood has had a long professional association with Warner Bros., having directed most of his movies for the studio.

On Wednesday, Eastwood joined Warner Bros. CEO Barry Meyer and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who is a member of the Smithsonian Board of Regents, for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the museum.

The intimate screening room, with a seating capacity of 264, is actually a renovation of an existing auditorium at the museum, outfitted with new technology such as digital 3-D projection.

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San Francisco's Mexican Museum joins Smithsonian network

January 31, 2012 |  6:30 pm

Viva Paredes' "My Pocha Tongues," part of the Mexican Museum’s current exhibition

The Mexican Museum in San Francisco might have to update its relationship status. The museum of Latino art and culture has joined the Smithsonian Institution’s Affiliations program, the nation’s largest museum network.

The partnership announced Tuesday allows the Mexican Museum access to the Smithsonian’s collection of more than 136 million artworks and artifacts. The Mexican Museum is the first San Francisco museum to become a Smithsonian affiliate.

“This collaborative partnership will allow San Franciscans to benefit from the Smithsonian’s unparalleled collections, ensures our museums reflect the rich tapestry that is American diversity, and recognizes the enormous contributions Mexican Americans have made to our nation,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said in a statement.

Founded by San Francisco artist Peter Rodriguez in 1975 in the Mission District and now at Fort Mason Center, the Mexican Museum’s collection includes some 14,000 objects spanning more than 4,000 years of art history.

And more updates are in the works: The museum is planning to break ground next year on a new 40,000-square-foot facility near downtown San Francisco.

Though the Smithsonian designation for the Mexican Museum is San Francisco's first, a raft of Los Angeles-area institutions -- including the California Science Center, the Japanese American Museum and the beleaguered La Plaza de Cultura y Artes -- already have the relationship with the Smithsonian. Other Southern California Smithsonian affiliates include the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach.

Jonathan Yorba, the Mexican Museum’s chief executive, is chairman of Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, a private, nonprofit group that's pushing for creation of a new museum on the National Mall that would be part of the Smithsonian. A bill before Congress would designate the Smithsonian’s now-vacant Arts and Industries Building as the Latino museum’s site and authorize planning to go forward.

Renovating and adding underground galleries to the historic structure would cost an estimated $402-million, to be split between private donations and federal outlays. A preliminary report on the project estimates annual operating costs of $47 million, with 40% to be federally funded.


Frank Gehry sketches out 'Don Giovanni' for L.A. Phil

Indianapolis art galleries reach out to Super Bowl fans

Violinist Lukas Kmit stylishly answers ringing cellphone problem

--Jamie Wetherbe

Photo: Viva Paredes' "My Pocha Tongues," part of the Mexican Museum’s current exhibition. Credit: Smeeta Mahanti

Monster Mash: Blair Underwood finds Broadway berth

January 26, 2012 |  7:45 am

The new Broadway revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire," starring Blair Underwood, will open this season

Sooner rather than later: The new Broadway revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire," starring Blair Underwood, will open this season, filling the slot left by the musical "Rebecca," which has been postponed. (Chicago Tribune)

Dropoff: The Smithsonian reports that the number of visitors to its museums declined by 2% last year. (Washington Post)

Resignation: Principal dancer Sergei Polunin has abruptly quit his position at the Royal Ballet. (BBC News)

Resuscitated: Andrew Lloyd Webber is actively looking to bring "Love Never Dies" to Broadway. (Los Angeles Times)

Coveted: A painting by Frans Hals that was owned by Elizabeth Taylor has sold for $2.1 million. (Los Angeles Times)

Better late ... Abu Dhabi says that its satellite Louvre art gallery will open in 2015 and a Guggenheim museum in 2017, about three years later than expected. (Agence France-Presse)

Ominous note: The general manager of La Scala in Milan, Italy, said that a balanced budget will be difficult for 2012. (Associated Press)

Back in business: New York's South Street Seaport Museum will reopen Thursday after it closed due to financial hardship nearly a year ago. (WNYC)

Moving forward: The Philadelphia Orchestra, still in bankruptcy, has announced its 2012-13 season. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Severe: Proposed legislation in Virginia would deny active symphony orchestra performers unemployment benefits between orchestra seasons. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Apply within: The Art Institute of Chicago is looking to bring more docents on board. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Passing: Nicol Williamson, the British actor considered by many to be one of the foremost interpreters of "Hamlet," has died at 75. (Los Angeles Times)

Also in the L.A. Times: The Huntington has acquired a collection of telegrams from Abraham Lincoln and Union generals, plus code books.

-- David Ng

Photo: Blair Underwood. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Monster Mash: Dodgers' Don Mattingly in 'Nutcracker'; Warhol tops S&P

December 21, 2011 |  7:50 am

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly took time to appear in The Nutcracker

Holiday spirit: Dodgers manager Don Mattingly traveled to his hometown in Indiana to perform in a local production of "The Nutcracker" ballet. (NBC Los Angeles)

Good investments: Art by Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 during the last 10 years, according to a new measure. (Bloomberg)

Next project: Filmmaker Charlie Kaufman, who took us inside John Malkovich's head with "Being John Malkovich," is talking about making a movie musical. (Guardian)

Hard times: The Los Angeles area's arts and entertainment industries lost thousands of jobs from 2007 to 2010, according to a study. (Los Angeles Times)

Getting off the ground: The Weinstein Co. is moving forward with its long-gestating stage musical "Finding Neverland," which had been set to run at LaJolla Playhouse. (New York Times)

Missing: Thieves have stolen a work of public art in Britain by artist Barbara Hepworth. (Telegraph)

Cash infusion: The Smithsonian Institution is receiving a $52-million increase in funding from Congress for 2012, with the boost primarily devoted to building a museum on the National Mall devoted to black history. (Los Angeles Times)

Hoop dreams: Producers have found the actor to play Earvin "Magic" Johnson in the Broadway-bound play "Magic/Bird." (Playbill)

Meeting of the minds: An international cultural summit will be held during the next Edinburgh International Festival. (The Stage UK)

More is more: New York is getting another international theater festival. (New York Times)

Back to the stage: Christina Ricci will appear in a New York production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," opposite Bebe Neuwirth. (Broadway World)

Donation: The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore has received a gift of 260 objects of enameled Russian silver. (Baltimore Sun)

Reprising her role: Elizabeth Marvel, who starred in the off-Broadway production of "Other Desert Cities," will return to the play in its Broadway incarnation in March to replace Rachel Griffiths. (Theatermania)

Passings: Gene Summers, the modernist architect, has died at age 83; Heidi Helen Davis, an actress, acting teacher and stage director who had a long association with the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum has died at age 60.

Also in the L.A. Times: An appreciation of the late playwright and former Czech president Vaclav Havel.

-- David Ng

Photo: Dodgers manager Don Mattingly argues a call with an umpire in July. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

New budget plan cuts NEA and NEH 5.6% but boosts Smithsonian

December 19, 2011 |  9:06 am

The budget passed Friday by the House of Representatives cuts arts grant agencies by 5.6%
The National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities each will see a 5.6% budget reduction in fiscal 2012 under a spending bill passed Friday in the House that's expected to prevent a feared government shutdown.

Under the bill, each agency would have $146.3 million to spend during the budget year that began in October, down from $155 million. It's the second cut this year for the two grant-making agencies, which began 2011 with budgets of $167.5 million. The combined cuts now total 12.7%.

Americans for the Arts, the national advocacy group that lobbies to maximize arts spending -– or at least to minimize arts-spending cuts -– said that $146.3 million is what President Obama had penciled in in his original budget proposal for the NEA and the NEH, representing a compromise between the $155 million suggested by the Senate and the $135 million proposed by the House during earlier subcommittee negotiations over the budget.

The Senate passed the spending bill Saturday morning, and it now moves to President Obama for his signature.

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Arts on TV: Bill T. Jones; Steven Spielberg and John Williams

November 10, 2011 |  6:00 am

American Masters Bill T. Jones: A Good Man

“Austin City Limits” 10 p.m., Thursday KVCR: Steve Miller Band performs; the Preservation Hall Jazz Band presents classic New Orleans jazz with special guests the Del McCoury Band and Jim James of My Morning Jacket.

“American Masters Bill T. Jones: A Good Man” 9 p.m., Friday KOCE: Choreographer Bill T. Jones mounts a full-evening dance event inspired by Abraham Lincoln's life.

“Live From the Artists Den” 10 p.m., Friday KLCS: Booker T. and the Drive-By Truckers perform at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans; special guest Bettye LaVette.

“Inside” 7 p.m., Saturday KSCI: "The Emperor's Treasure": Taiwan's National Palace Museum houses an art collection of more than 600,000 objects that gives a new perspective on China's cultural history.

“Movie: The Producers” (1968) 8 p.m., Saturday TCM: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder. A Broadway producer and his accountant back a sure-fire flop: “Springtime for Hitler.”

“Bulgarian Rhapsody: Pacific Symphony” 7 and 7:30 p.m., Sunday KOCE: The Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra performs in Bulgaria, homeland of its Artistic Director Maxim Eshkenazy.

“Gallery: The National Museum of the American Indian” 10 p.m., Monday KVCR: The unveiling and dedication of the first Smithsonian museum dedicated to American Indians.

“AFI Master Class” 5 and 9 p.m., Tuesday TCM: The Art of Collaboration: Steven Spielberg and John Williams: Filmmaker Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams collaborate on movies.

“Movie: Black Swan” (2010) 8 p.m., Wednesday Cinemax: (R) Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis. A ballerina begins to lose her fragile grip on reality as a sultry newcomer threatens to usurp her position as the lead dancer in “Swan Lake.”

“Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” 9 p.m., Wednesday Bravo: Street Dealers : Randomly paired, each team is to select a public space where they will reveal their final piece to the public.

-- Compiled by Ed Stockly

Photo:  From "American Masters Bill T. Jones: A Good Man'" a dancer in "Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray." Credit: Paul B. Goode / PBS

50 Years of NASA Art at National Air and Space Museum

August 20, 2011 |  6:30 am

Norman Rockwell, "Grissom and Young," 1965  When the space shuttle Atlantis lifted off for its final mission in July, it marked the end of an epoch at NASA. Many Americans were left wistful and nostalgic for more adventures of the final frontier. While NASA revamps for the future, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is offering a look back at the program through artists' eyes with "NASA/ART: 50 Years of Exploration."

 Initiated in 2008, the traveling exhibition, a collaboration with NASA and Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, includes Norman Rockwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Alexander Calder and William Wegman. More than 70 pieces are on view recording the triumphs and tragedies of space exploration over the last five decades.

"Space flight began in the imagination of artists long before government got into it," said James Dean, the founding director, now retired, of NASA's Art Program. He cites Buck Rogers and science-fiction author H.G. Wells as examples.

 The NASA Art Program was established in 1962, after the inception of the U.S. space program in 1958. "NASA knew what they were doing was important and would be taking more photos than any other federal agency," said Tom Crouch, senior curator at the National Air and Space Museum.

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