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A major exhibition of paintings and etchings by James McNeill Whistler opens in Washington this weekend—but don't expect to see his mother there.

"An American in London: Whistler and the Thames" spotlights the 19th century American artist's many years in the British capital and his fascination with the storied river than runs through it.

Starting with his vivid depictions of life along the Thames, the show—at the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries on the National Mall—progresses to the moody, virtually abstract twilight images, or Nocturnes, that Whistler began creating around 1871.

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Thursday, 13 February 2014 11:31

deCordova Museum’s Executive Director Steps Down

Dennis Kois, the executive director of the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, will step down from his post this May. Kois will return to his native Wisconsin to serve as the Milwaukee Public Museum’s president and chief executive officer.

Since joining the deCordova in 2008, Kois has expanded the museum’s collection, commissioned works by celebrated artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and Orly Genger, and helped raise millions for the once cash-strapped institution. Following the announcement of Kois’ departure, museum trustee Deborah A. Hawkins donated $1 million to the deCordova to bolster curatorial initiatives in his absence.     

Prior to his time at the deCordova, Kois served as the director of the Grace Museum in Abilene, Texas and before that, he was the chief designer at the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, DC. Kois will advise the deCordova on its search for a new executive director. 

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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will grant the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries $1 million to help conserve Chinese paintings housed in the museum’s galleries of Asian art. The Smithsonian says that it is the only institution in the United States to offer a program that teaches conservators how to care for fragile Chinese paintings. The new grant will endow a position for an assistant Chinese painting conservator to provide support for the program.

While there are thousands of delicate Chinese paintings in American museums, there are only four expert conservators. Smithsonian officials said that the number of experts trained to care for Chinese paintings is dwindling, which is troublesome as these works are challenging to care for. Many Chinese paintings are very old and made up of layers of varying materials including paper, silk, fabric and paste, which all require different preservation methods.

The Mellon grant requires that the Smithsonian match the funds with an additional $750,000 by 2016 in order to endow the position.

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