Rent-A-Pic: Museums & Ethics

This past spring, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts rented out 21 Monets to a commercial art gallery operating inside a Las Vegas casino. On April 13, the casino lost power for three days, and the paintings may have been left baking in the desert heat while the juice was restored. Tough luck? You bet, and according to many in the museum world, a serious ethical lapse by the MFA as well. There are codes to which accredited museums and their directors must supposedly adhere, but according to AJ Blogger Tyler Green, those codes are frequently flouted, and rarely enforced. “Critics [have] warned about what might happen when a museum considered money-making to be more important than caring for and conserving art. When the electricity died at Bellagio, an academic debate was transformed into a real-life disaster.”

Searching For A Scream

Authorities in Norway still say they have no solid leads in the theft of Munch’s The Scream from an Oslo gallery, but police have reportedly raided several addresses in the city over the last month, in the hope that the paintings will turn up in the abodes of known criminals. Drug warrants have been used as a pretext for the raids, which have so far yielded nothing of value.

America’s Most Secure Opera Company (No, It’s Not The Met)

By current classical music standards, the Lyric Opera of Chicago is a wildly successful operation, selling 98% of its seats and projecting a surplus of $700,000 for the current season. The enviable culture of philanthropy in Chicago helps, as does the city’s huge population and the willingness of certain patrons to pony up $12,500 for a ticket to this weekend’s season-opening gala. In an era when serious opera is becoming a luxury unavailable to denizens of most U.S. cities, the Lyric is the shining example of how to build a serious company outside of New York.

Hollywood’s “Showrunners”

Increasingly, the TV industry’s most successful programs are not the creative result of a traditional production team (writers, producers, directors, actors) working together to beat the odds and make a hit show. Rather, the prime time landscape is now dominated by “showrunners… [who] do just about everything on a dramatic series, from writing scripts and casting actors to negotiating with the networks over salaries and budgets.” It may seem like a cosmetic change, but the fact is that showrunners are changing the landscape of scripted television.

Two New Museums Bent On Changing Perceptions

This week the Nationa Museum of the American opens in DC. Last month the The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in Cincinnati. “It’s a particularly American irony that two groups that have struggled since our nation was formed to find their place in its cultural fabric now have national institutions that are uniquely their own. Both museums offer much more than history…”

The Billionaire Poet

Felix Dennis is a billionaire. “He owns Stuff magazine. He owns The Week. His Maxim, where the staff calls their proprietor “the bearded dwarf,” is the biggest-selling “men’s lifestyle” publication in the world. His privately owned company, Dennis Publishing, has launched more than 40 magazines, typically with prosaic but profitable prescience: Computer Shopper used to carry more than 1,000 pages of advertisements in each issue. Now Dennis, 57, has decided to become a poet…”