I just found a spunky rebuttal to the much-discussed article by the Times’ Robin Pogrebin about the recent era of museum overbuilding. Pogrebin’s article is referenced in yesterday’s post, and anyone who has read her piece should also read through Lee Rosenbaum’s article on CultureGrrl, Not Dead Yet: Museum Building Projects Are Alive and Kicking. (Rosenbaum has written a more detailed analysis of major omissions in Pogrebin’s piece in an earlier posting, also very interesting.)
Rosenbaum’s bottom line with expansion delays and other ongoing projects:
Museum expansion isn’t an evil to be avoided, as Robin’s article seems to suggest. It just needs to be done for the right reasons and with a secure financial underpinning. That means not only knowing in advance where the necessary construction money is coming from, but also amassing the endowment funds required to cover the increased operating costs of the expanded facility. If you don’t know where that money is coming from, you need to delay the project. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Showing a geographical bias, I was pleased to see Rosenbaum highlight U.K.-based Apollo magazine’s choice of Boston’s MFA director Malcolm Rogers as their Personality of the Year. “Among its many photos of its cover boy, the magazine features a shot of Rogers ‘amid construction of the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Visitor Center’—part of the major renovation and expansion (including a new American wing) designed by Norman Foster. The project successfully concluded its capital campaign in June 2008 (good timing), raising a whopping $504 million.”
The scheduled date for completion of the MFA project is the end of 2010.