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Three highly attended and widely acclaimed exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art generated about $781 million in spending by regional, national and foreign tourists this spring/summer season. Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations, Tomas Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City, and The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde are to thank for the impressive chunk of change.

The Metropolitan has employed a number of audience studies in recent years to calculate the public economic impact of its special exhibition program. With a direct tax benefit of $78.1 to New York City, it appears the program is well worth its while.

In total, 339,838 visitors came to the Met to see Schiaparelli and Prada and 323,792 patrons came to see The Steins Collect, which will remain on view though November 4, 2012. At the time of the study, Tomas Saraceno on the Roof drew the largest crowd with 368,370 visitors.

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Over the last five years, the Cleveland Museum of Art has been at work on one of the largest building programs of any art institution in the country, a $350 million project that has been unveiled in sleek new stages and will be completed by 2013, adding 35,000 more square feet of gallery space.

But the museum has also been building in less visible ways and is set to announce on Monday the acquisition of two high-profile ancient artifacts that seem certain to draw attention not only to the institution’s expansion but also to the complicated long-running debate about antiquities collecting by museums.

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The American Folk Art Museum barely avoided extinction last year when it was forced to sell its ill-suited building on West 53rd Street in Manhattan and retreat to its much smaller branch space at 2 Lincoln Square. Now it is modestly spreading it wings and trying to set more of its great collection before the public by collaborating with other institutions.

It has, for example, lent 14 works to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its new American Wing galleries. Another fruit of this approach is the exuberant and wide-ranging “Compass: Folk Art in Four Directions,” a dense exhibition of nearly 200 works shoehorned into four galleries in the early-19th-century row houses that are now the home of the South Street Seaport Museum.

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Saturday, 21 January 2012 03:41

The American Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The New American Wing galleries for paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts that opened at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on January 16, 2012, comprise twenty-six galleries, encompassing nearly 30,000 square feet on the Wing’s second floor. The first eight, the Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang Galleries of Eighteenth-Century American Art, showcase all the decorative and fine arts of the colonial and early Federal periods. The remaining eighteen, the Joan Whitney Payson Galleries, offer the principal display of the museum’s collection of nineteenth and early twentieth-century American paintings, together with important examples of American sculpture. The galleries, with their coved or barrel-vaulted ceilings, skylights, quarter-sawn white oak floors, and Cohare limestone trim, pay contemporary homage to traditional Beaux-Arts museum design.
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The Metropolitan Museum's concurrent presentation of four acclaimed and widely attended exhibitions in the summer 2011 season—Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty; Anthony Caro on the Roof; Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective; and Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century—generated $908 million in spending by regional, national, and international tourists to New York, according to a visitor survey the Museum released today. Using the industry standard for calculating tax revenue impact, the study found that the direct tax benefit to the City and State from out-of-town visitors to the Museum totaled some $90.8 million. (Results of visitor survey are below.)

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, on view from May 4 through August 7, 2011, drew 661,509 visitors. Attendance for Anthony Caro on the Roof was 306,542 from April 26 through August 26, 2011, when this survey was completed (the exhibition will close on October 30, 2011). Attendance for Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, which opened April 13, was 183,553 through August 26. Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century, on view from April 25 through July 4, 2011, drew 194,398 visitors.

The survey found that 68% of the visitors traveled from outside the five boroughs of New York. Of these, 20% were from the Tri-State area, 38% were from other states, and 42% were international visitors. Eighty-two percent of travelers reported staying overnight in the City; of these, 72% stayed in a hotel or motel. The median length of stay in the City was 5 days.

These visitors reported spending an average $927 per person ($599 for lodging, dining, sightseeing, entertainment, admission to museums, and local transportation and another $328 for shopping) during their stay in New York.

Fifty-two percent of travelers cited visiting the Met as a key motivating factor in visiting New York. Of travelers, 45% made their first visit to the Museum, and another 23% made their first visit in several years.

The Museum maintains a policy of welcoming visitors to special exhibitions without imposing extra fees. All exhibitions are free with the Museum's suggested admission.

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum, stated: "As the results of this audience survey suggest, special exhibitions have the power to draw new visitors to the Museum. And after they have attended an exhibition at the Met once, we are confident they will come again. Through our commitment to a robust program of new offerings in the coming years, we hope to continue to attract new audiences to the Museum and thereby to the City and the State."

Emily K. Rafferty, President of the Metropolitan Museum—who also serves as chair of NYC & Company, the city's official tourism agency—noted: "Through its roster of highly engaging exhibitions on an ever-changing selection of topics, the Met continues to appeal to a broad cross-section of the population. We are pleased to announce that the Museum remains a premier destination for visitors to New York, and that the revenues it generates for the City and the State show substantial and continued growth."

The survey of visitors to Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Anthony Caro on the Roof, Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective, and Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century is the most recent of a series of audience studies undertaken by the Metropolitan to calculate the public economic impact of its special exhibition program. In 2010, the Museum found that the concurrent presentation of Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Doug + Mike Starn on the Roof: Big Bambú, and American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity had generated $784 million in economic impact; in 2007, the concurrent showing of Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde and Americans in Paris, 1860-1900 had generated $377 million in economic impact; in 2004, its El Greco retrospective had generated $345 million in economic impact, and in 2000 reported that visitors to Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids had generated some $307 million.

Using a scale of 1 to 10 to determine how important seeing one or more of the four exhibitions was in their decision to visit New York City, 28% of visitors surveyed in the study gave a rating of 8 or higher. Fifty-two percent gave a rating of 8 or higher to visiting the Metropolitan Museum in general. The economic impact is estimated to be $254 million for just those individuals who indicated that seeing the exhibitions was important in their decision to visit New York City and $472 million for those who wanted to see the Museum in general, yielding tax benefits of $25.4 and $47.2 million respectively.

The landmark exhibition Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty featured some 100 ensembles and 70 accessories that spanned the late British designer's prolific 19-year career. His iconic designs were always at the vanguard of fashion, due to his unique combination of technical ingenuity with an innovative sensibility. The exhibition was the eighth most popular exhibition ever held at the Metropolitan, and the most visited of the special exhibitions organized by The Costume Institute. In response to public interest, the Museum extended the exhibition by one week and added extra viewing times—including late hours through midnight on the last weekend—so the public could see the exhibition when the Museum was normally closed.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty was made possible by Alexander McQueen™. Additional support was provided in partnership with American Express and Condé Nast.

Installed on the Museum's dramatic Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, with unparalleled panoramic views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline, Anthony Caro on the Roof includes a selection of the sculptor's works in painted and unpainted industrial steel. Caro is considered the most influential and prolific British sculptor of his generation, and is widely regarded as a key figure in the development of modernist sculpture in the last 60 years. The installation is the 14th consecutive single-artist installation for The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden.

The exhibition was made possible by Bloomberg.

Additional support was provided by Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky.

Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective traced the artist's investigation of drawing as an activity both independent from and linked to his sculptural practice. The exhibition included 60 works from the 1970s to the present. Over the past quarter of a century, Serra has invented new drawing techniques and radically changed the practice and definition of drawing.

The exhibition was made possible in part by the Jane and Robert Carroll Fund.

It was organized by the Menil Collection, Houston.

Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century was the first exhibition to focus on the motif of the open window as captured by German, Danish, French, and Russian artists around 1810-1820. A poetic play of light and perceptible silence filled the 31 oil paintings and 26 works on paper included in the presentation.

The exhibition was made possible by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation and The Isaacson-Draper Foundation.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition came to an end last night, but it has already considered one of the Met's top exhibitions.

This puts Savage Beauty among the ranks of other historic blockbusters at the Met, including the Tutankhamen (1987), Mona Lisa (1963) and Picasso (2010) exhibitions. The show is the eight most popular exhibition ever to be held at the Met, and is the most visited show ever organized by The Costume Institute since it joined the Met in 1946.

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Met said in a press release,

“We are enormously gratified that visitors turned out in record numbers to view this powerful exhibition of McQueen’s work. The show was an elegant tribute to the designer's artistry, and we are proud to have shared it with such a broad audience, eager to experience the breadth of his genius.”

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Visiting New York's biggest art museum is about to get more expensive. The Metropolitan Museum of Art said this week that it is raising its recommended admission by $5 to $25 starting July 1.While paying the full amount is technically optional, the new price makes the Met the most expensive art museum for visitors in New York.

The museum said in a release that it "faces a number of daunting, ongoing budgetary challenges" and that "income from our endowment has flattened, the average visitor contribution at the door is lower, and public sector operating support has fallen."

The new $25 recommended admission applies for adults. The recommended price for seniors and students will rise to $17  and $12, respectively, from $15 and $10. Children under 12 will still be able to get in free of charge. The Met said this is the first ticket hike in five years.

Earlier this week, the Met announced that its special exhibition devoted to Alexander McQueen will be open Mondays for people willing to pay $50 for admission.

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IBM (NYSE: IBM) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art today announced the successful installation of a new wireless environmental sensor network at the Museum called Low-Power Mote that will help preserve the works of art in its world-renowned, encyclopedic collection.

This technology has recently been installed and is currently being tested at The Cloisters museum and gardens, the branch of the Metropolitan Museum devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. Located in northern Manhattan, The Cloisters has a collection of approximately 3,000 works of art, most dating from the 12th through the 15th century, ranging from illuminated manuscripts to polychrome wood sculptures, paintings, and tapestries.

"This pilot project has the potential to become an important tool in the Metropolitan Museum's ongoing efforts to achieve the best environmental conditions for the works of art in our care," said Paolo Dionisi Vici, Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Scientific Research at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "This new technology offers a real-time, detailed picture of the environment, and we are now working on an upgrade that will also monitor the actual reactions of the works of art to the environment. These developments have the potential for us to create 'sensing environments' for works of art that will provide constant feedback, enabling conservators, curators, and facilities experts to fine-tune their approaches to establishing and adapting as necessary the exhibition and storage conditions."

Works of art are very sensitive to fluctuations in temperature, relative humidity, and other environmental conditions. To preserve them for posterity, the climate in the galleries is tightly controlled and sealed cases are used for the most delicate objects.

Working with experts at the Metropolitan Museum to address the complex environment associated with art conservation, scientists from IBM Research are implementing the comprehensive solution called Low-Power Mote technology.  This involves time-stamped data collection through a wireless sensor network, data storage with real-time visualization, modeling, and analysis.  This results in an ultra-low-power physical analytics technique that, combined with cloud computing capabilities, allows micro-environment sensing and more precise and accurate modeling.

In the initial phase, IBM has deployed 100 sensors in strategic locations in several adjacent rooms of the Museum, allowing for high-definition monitoring of the environment that captures the subtle dynamics of the space.  Sensors measure temperature, humidity, air flow, contamination levels, door positions, light levels, and more. All of the data is fed into a software application where it is modeled to provide detailed real-time 3D temperature, humidity, and dew-point distributions. A distinct feature of this technology lies in its unique analytical capabilities, which leverage several physics-based models for optimum operation, and controls and make it possible to generate and visualize hydrodynamic flows in real time. 

With this unique analytics technology, the Metropolitan Museum's scientists and conservators will be able to probe localized variations in climate developing detailed microclimate maps of the galleries at The Cloisters. The measurements will also enable the Museum's scientists to correlate the reaction of art objects to environmental changes in order to develop object-oriented tests and predictive models for art preservation more accurately.  This advance, which represents a shift from monitoring the environment to creating a sensing environment, will eventually be expanded to the Museum's main building on Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street in Manhattan as well.

Next steps for this technology include expanding over additional galleries of the museum, with the goal of developing an improved understanding of the effect of micro-climatic variations eventually leading to a fundamentally better approach to preservation of the art objects, throughout the museum.

"This project is a prime example of IBM's physical analytics capabilities that can help predict and forecast change, and we're pleased we can collaborate with the Metropolitan Museum to preserve treasured artifacts for generations to come," said Hendrik Hamann, research manager, IBM Research.  "This technology has emerged out of IBM's work on the energy optimization of industrial spaces such as computer datacenters, and represents a migration of this approach to other industrial and public spaces that can employ a vast variety of networked sensors. Whether it be an art object, or any other monitoring criteria within a building or a campus, building operators need to gain a better understanding of the environmental conditions that are impacting their spaces. IBM's Low-Power Mote Technology can help users gain access to real-time physical data and its interpretation, enabling quick and accurate predicts."

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Is the Metropolitan Museum of Art engaging in the age-old sport of blaming the victim?

In March, British collector Robert Wylde made headlines when he sued the Gagosian Gallery for selling him a $2.5 million Mark Tansey painting, "The Innocent Eye Test," which, it turned out, had been promised to the Met.

Wylde had purchased the painting through the gallery in 2009 from former art dealer and Artforum magazine publisher Charles Cowles — only to be informed in spring 2010 that the Met owned 31% of the painting. Cowles' mother, Jan Cowles, owned the remaining 69%, and the museum had been promised it would eventually own the work in full.

According to Wylde's complaint, had the Gagosian gallery properly done its "due diligence," it never would have given Wylde "clear and unencumbered title" to the artwork.

Wylde, who still has the painting, is seeking $6 million in compensatory damages, but now he has to battle the Met and Mama Cowles in a related suit filed Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The complaint, not surprisingly, seeks the return of the Tansey painting. But what's interesting about the suit is the kid-gloves approach it takes regarding the Gagosian Gallery, which is owned by silver-haired billionaire Larry Gagosian — one of the most powerful art dealers in the world.

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