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The Vancouver Art Gallery is launching a new initiative focused on Asian art, including a senior curatorial position and an international advisory council.

As part of the Institute of Asian Art, the gallery will also dedicate permanent space to Asian art in its new, expanded facility planned for West Georgia and Cambie streets.

“With dedicated curatorial leadership and the support of an international network of advisors, the Institute of Asian Art will be an important resource for our community, stimulating new dialogue and further strengthening the ties between Vancouver and the Asian Pacific region,” Vancouver Art Gallery director Kathleen Bartels said in a news release.

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These days, success for museums often means expansion—whether it is with new buildings or international satellites. The Louvre’s new director, Jean-Luc Martinez, has another idea. Having taken over the museum in April 2013, he wants to refocus on the core of the institution: its collections and permanent displays. And to do so, he’s ready to launch a behemoth refurbishing initiative, which in his own admission could “take decades.”

After 12 years characterized by the aggressive development policy of Martinez’ predecessor Henri Loyrette—who oversaw the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s €1 billion deal—the new director’s position feels particularly radical.

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New York City’s water tanks are about to be transformed thanks to an initiative aimed at raising awareness about international water issues. Word Above the Street, a nonprofit that promotes environmental awareness through art, is hoping that the Water Tank Project will shed light on issues relating to water sustainability and clean water accessibility in developing countries. The project is the brainchild of filmmaker Mary Jordan, who was inspired by her own experiences in Ethiopia.

The initiative plans to use about a hundred of the city’s several thousand water tanks, which have been carefully selected based on their visibility and location.

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On July 18, the High Museum of Art unveiled a large-scale, interactive design installation “Mi Casa, Your Casa” by contemporary Mexican designers Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena in the center of the Woodruff Arts Center’s campus on the Carroll Slater Sifly Piazza. The site-specific work launches a two-year initiative to activate the outdoor space with performances, art-making activities, and other special events.

“Mi Casa, Your Casa” draws its inspiration from a basic form recognizable and relatable to all—the home. The project features 36 three-dimensional, open frames in the shape of a house installed in a large grid on the Piazza, with four singular forms placed around the Woodruff Arts Center campus.

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Germany’s Staatsgalerie Stuttgart museum returned a 15th century Renaissance painting stolen by Nazis during World War II to the estate of a Jewish art dealer. The museum acquired Virgin and Child, which is attributed to the Master of Flémalle (1375-1444) who is identified by historians as Robert Campin, in 1948.

The painting once belonged to Max Stern (1904-1987) who lost over 400 paintings to the Nazi regime during a forced sale in 1937. After Jews were banned from selling art in Nazi-occupied Europe, Stern shuttered his Dusseldorf gallery and escaped to London in December of the same year. Before settling in Montreal, Stern sold even more paintings, including Virgin and Child, in order to buy a German exit visa for his mother. Stern went on to purchase the Dominion Gallery of Fine Arts and established himself as one of Canada’s most important art dealers and collectors.

Upon his death in 1987, Stern donated a portion of his estate to Concordia and McGill Universities in Montreal as well as the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. For the past ten years Concordia has been working to recover the hundreds of paintings Stern lost at the hands of the Nazis. The initiative, known as the Max Stern Art Restitution Project, has facilitated the return of 9 works originally belonging to Stern; Virgin and Child is the 10th and the only work to be returned from a German museum thus far.

A ceremony was held on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at the Canadian Embassy in Berlin to celebrate the painting’s return.  

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The Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. has announced that its Renwick Gallery, which houses the museum’s American craft and decorative arts collection from the 19th to 21st centuries, will undergo a major renovation. The Renwick Gallery, which opened to the public in 1972, will close to accommodate the project in early 2014 and is expected to reopen in 2016.

Project details are still being worked out and an exact cost for the renovations is yet to be determined. The Smithsonian is planning to use public funds to pay for half of the project and the rest will be paid through private partnerships. The project has already received a $335,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures initiative, as the Renwick Gallery is located in a National Historic Landmark building. The building’s construction began in 1859 and went on to house the city’s first art museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, upon its completion.

Museum officials plan to convert all of the Renwick Gallery’s lighting to energy efficient LED lights and wireless Internet access will be provided throughout the entire gallery. Heating, plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, and fire safety systems will all be gutted and replaced. This will be the Renwick Gallery’s first renovation in 40 years.

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The art community has always been a breeding ground for collaboration and camaraderie amongst artists. The Brooklyn Museum harnessed that cooperative spirit to mount the exhibition Go: a community-curated open studio project, which is now on view through February 24, 2013.

Brooklyn, home to the most artists in the United States, was an ideal place to launch the initiative, which is aimed at fostering exchange between artists, their communities, and the Brooklyn Museum. In September, over 1,700 artists opened their studios to the community, drawing more than 18,000 visitors who ultimately served as curators. Community member nominated ten artists and museum curators whittled that number down to five to be featured in the exhibition.

Organized by the Brooklyn Museum’s Managing Curator of Exhibitions, Sharon Matt Atkins, and Chief of Technology, Shelley Bernstein, GO features the work of Adrian Coleman, Oliver Jeffers, Naomi Safran-Hon, Gabrielle Watson, and Yeon Ji Yoo. Officials drew inspiration from the well-known programs ArtPrize, a publicly juried art competition, which takes place each year in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and open studio weekends, which are a staple in the Brooklyn community.

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