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New York Public Library reveals $317m renovation plan

Plus: RIAS secretary and treasurer Neil Baxter quits | North Carolina Museum of Art director Lawrence J. Wheeler announces retirement | Berkshire Museum collections committee member resigns over planned sale | and multiple clients sue New York dealer Ezra Chowaiki for fraud

17 November 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

New York Public Library reveals $317m renovation plan | The New York Public Library has made public its plans for an ambitious $317m renovation of its Manhattan building, following confirmation of the board’s approval on Wednesday, the New York Times reports. The proposal, created by Dutch architects Mecanoo together with New York-based firm Beyer Blinder Belle, would see public space in the library’s flagship site, known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, increase by approximately 20 per cent, in the form of a new learning centre, extra exhibition space, and an added research room. To be completed by 2021, the new proposal replaces the controversial and quickly abandoned Central Library Plan, which would have seen two of the institution’s smaller branches closed.

RIAS secretary and treasurer Neil Baxter quits | Neil Baxter, secretary and treasurer of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, has resigned following the publication of an open letter signed by dozens of architects calling for a major overhaul of the Edinburgh-based organisation. The group launched a campaign last week, entitled ‘A New Chapter’, demanding an independent review of RIAS activities due to concerns over ‘lack of effectiveness, poor governance and insufficient accountability.’ Baxter, who was appointed to his leading role at the RIAS 10 years ago, has handed in his resignation effective immediately.

North Carolina Museum of Art director Lawrence J. Wheeler announces retirement | The North Carolina Museum of Art’s director Lawrence J. Wheeler has announced his plans to retire from the role, after 24 years at the institution’s helm. He will stay on as director until a replacement is identified, with the intention of leaving by November 2018. Before joining the museum in the city of Raleigh, Wheeler, who is a historian of European history, served as director of development at the Cleveland Museum of Art in Ohio.

Berkshire Museum collections committee member resigns over planned sale | The Berkshire Eagle reports that a member of the Berkshire Museum’s collections committee has quit in protest against the institution’s highly controversial (and currently stalled) plans to sell up to 40 artworks from its holdings. Matt Kelly, who had been on the committee for 14 years when he handed in his resignation, has said that the committee was not informed of the museum’s proposal until a meeting the day before the board of trustees met to vote on the deaccession, and that he himself had missed this meeting and only learned about the plans afterwards from media sources.

Multiple clients sue New York dealer Ezra Chowaiki for fraud | Ezra Chowaiki, president of the bankrupt art gallery Chowaiki & Co. Fine Art, has been accused of defrauding clients in multiple lawsuits filed in New York this week, Bloomberg reports. According to the plaintiffs, Chowaiki collected ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars’ in payment for works, including paintings by Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, and Giorgio de Chirico, that he did not have a right to sell. The New York gallery’s majority owner and director David Dangoor is also being sued for allegedly failing to warn Chowaiki’s clients of his fraudulent activities.

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