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Maxwell Anderson, the Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, announced today the launch of an exciting redesigned digital database for the Museum’s collection of encyclopedic art through its website, DMA.org. This marks the first phase of an initiative to dramatically improve online access and representation of the Museum’s global collection of more than 22,000 works of art.

By digitizing its entire collection, the DMA is creating one of the world’s most sophisticated online art collections, providing open access to its entire collection, and leading the field in the quality and depth of content available to visitors, students, teachers, and scholars. In addition, whenever permitted by existing agreements, the DMA will release all images, data, and software it creates to the public under Open Access licenses for free personal and educational use.

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The controversial merger between the Corcoran Gallery of Art, George Washington University and the National Gallery of Art, all in Washington, DC, has received the green light from the district’s Superior Court. In a ruling on Monday 18 August, Judge Robert Okun called the decision “painful,” but concluded that it would be “even more painful to deny the relief requested and allow the Corcoran to face its likely demise.”

Under the terms of the agreement, first announced in February 2014, the beleaguered Corcoran will transfer its historic Beaux-Arts building and its College of Art + Design to George Washington University. The National Gallery of Art will take over a substantial portion of the Corcoran’s 17,000-work collection, which includes paintings by John Singer Sargent and Frederic Edwin Church as well as celebrated photography holdings.

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A rare collection of African art assembled over nearly 30 years by a leading Genentech biochemist will go on display at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park in late January, marking the first time the public has seen many of the carved forms and shapes.

The collection, "Embodiments: Masterworks of African Figurative Sculpture," was assembled by scientist Richard Scheller, who was taken by African art's "amazing forms," but fascinated when he began to learn what the sculptures represent.

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Wednesday, 13 August 2014 10:45

Thoughts on Deaccessioning Works of Art

Sometimes museums get in trouble. Deep trouble. Not because they damage art, or let it get stolen ... but because they sell it. The Delaware Art Museum is the latest target of the art world's ire — for selling one painting from its collection to try and tackle a debt, and for revelations in the past few days that two more paintings are up for sale.

The controversy relates to a serious museum practice with an unfriendly name: "deaccessioning," or the permanent removal of an object from the collection. There are rules around when and how deaccessioning can take place. Break those rules and there are some unpleasant consequences.

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The Smithsonian Institution is now actively seeking volunteers to aid in the digitization of its collection. Through a new website launched today, the public can sign up for various transcription projects which will take thousands of hand-written artifact labels and make them available digitally for researchers.

Among the hundreds of thousands of documents that need transcribing are the labels attached to 45,000 bumble bee specimens in the collection of the National Museum of Natural History. The museum hopes digitizing that information will aid scientists studying the current global bee decline.

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It’s the end of a case that lasted more than a decade. France’s supreme court, the Council of State, has ruled that the foreign affair ministry was right to have turned down a restitution claim for three artworks seized by the American army in Austria at the end of World War Two.

They hadn’t been there long. In 1940, a German-American dealer had sold the three drawings by Adriaen Van Ostade, Francisco Goya, and Honoré Daumier to an Austrian dealer in charge of building a permanent collection for a regional museum in Salzburg. The pieces then entered the possession of an Austrian private collector. Suspected of being Nazi loot, they were retrieved by the Allied Forces and repatriated to France.

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The Corcoran Gallery of Art is taking steps to guarantee that most of its 17,000 artworks will remain in the Washington area and that the historic building near the White House always will display art, under the plan to turn over operations to George Washington University and the National Gallery of Art.

Legal papers filed by the Corcoran this week in D.C. Superior Court also show that the D.C. Attorney General’s Office is keeping a close watch over the dissolution of Washington’s oldest private art gallery and art college, which was announced earlier this year.

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Creditors in Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy have engineered a new appraisal aimed at putting the Detroit Institute of Arts' entire collection in play as a possible chip to maximize the amount the city will be obligated to ante up for debt repayment.

The Detroit News reports that, at some creditors’ behest, the city’s bankruptcy managers have begun trying to place a value on the museum’s entire 66,000-piece collection. That’s quite an escalation from a previous appraisal of only about 1,700 works that the DIA had bought with city funds.

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The antiques dealer and collector Joseph Kindig Jr. never fired a shot with any of his hundreds of American rifles made around 1800. He was not a hunter; he was a vegetarian who did not like to kill anything. At his store in York, Pa., he would refuse to sell his gun inventory to buyers who seemed snobbish or ignorant. He believed that the firearms represented the first major American artistic innovation.

His guns came mainly from Pennsylvania workshops, where a single artisan made and assembled each one: the maple stocks, iron mechanisms and brass floral ornaments. Each workman’s product “contained something of his spirit and soul,” Mr. Kindig told an interviewer in the 1950s.

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Anyone looking to meet the director of the tiny but highly regarded Museum of Contemporary Art here has two choices. Head into the museum, where its interim director, Alex Gartenfeld, has an office. Or go next door to City Hall, where the mayor’s appointee to the same position, Babacar M’Bow, is essentially working in exile.

The dueling directors are just part of the chaos emanating from a bitter showdown that has erupted between MoCA, as the museum is known, and the city that founded it.

The museum’s board wants to leave this working-class city and merge with the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, its wealthier and more glamorous neighbor. It says that North Miami has neglected the museum building and failed to support a needed expansion.

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