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The week in art news – head of Indianapolis Museum of Art resigns after controversial job ad

19 February 2021

The head of the Indianapolis Museum of Art has resigned. Charles Venable, director and chief executive of the museum since 2012, announced his resignation after criticisms of the job listing for a new director; Venable had taken up a new post as president of Newfields, the campus on which the museum is located. The job description, which encouraged applicants to make visitors to the museum more diverse while not losing its ‘traditional, core, white art audience’, has been condemned in a public letter signed by 85 employees and members of the board of governors of Newfields and also in an open letter signed by more than 1,900 artists, former employees and community leaders. The museum’s board has pledged to publish a detailed action plan to make the institution ‘diverse, equitable, accessible and inclusive’ in the next 30 days.

The National Gallery in London has launched a design competition for a team to rethink the Sainsbury Wing entrance in time for its 200th anniversary in 2024. Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery, has said that the increase in visitor numbers and changing expectations mean that ‘[w]e do need to look again at the spaces we have, and in particular the ground floor entrances and amenities’. The competition is the first part of what is likely be a five-year capital project, for which funds still have to be raised, with an estimated budget of £25m–£30m. The Sainsbury Wing, which was designed by Venturi Scott Brown, after a famously fraught competition process in which a winning design by ABK was abandoned, opened in 1991 and is Grade I-listed.

The Guggenheim Museum in New York has signed a deal with its newly unionised workers this week. The three-year contract, which covers 22 full-time and another 145 part-time staff, includes a raise of 10 per cent for workers over the period of the contract, free health insurance for full-time workers, annual bonuses for part-timers and improved safety and scheduling practices.

The Cy Twombly Foundation has complained to the Louvre about the repainting of the Salle des Bronzes, the ceiling of which bears a painting by the artist. Although the Twombly work, called The Ceiling (2010), is untouched, the marble floor of the gallery has been replaced with parquet and the previously white walls are now red, ahead of the reopening of the Salle des Bronzes in May. In its letter to the Louvre, seen by ARTnews, the Cy Twombly Foundation said that ‘the ceiling has lost the delicate and airy atmosphere specific to the artist’s project’. The Louvre has said that ‘Nothing in the agreement [with the artist] says that room will remain frozen in its museography.’

And, finally, Dolly Parton, the one public figure almost everyone would agree deserves a statue, has urged lawmakers in her home state of Tennessee to withdraw a bill to erect a statue of her in the grounds of the State Capitol building in Nashville. ‘Given all that is going on in the world,’ Parton tweeted, ‘I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time.’ Which only makes her more deserving, of course.

Lead image: used under Creative Commons licence (CC BY-SA 3.0; original image cropped)