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The Institute of Museum Ethics at Seton Hall and the Institute of Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School will hold “Hide/Seek: Museums, Ethics, and the Press,” a public conversation about current ethical challenges in the field, on Saturday, April 9, 2011. Registration begins at 9:30 AM, and the conference takes place 10:00 AM–4:00 PM. Lunch will be served.

Participants will examine the controversy surrounding the recent National Portrait Gallery exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, highlighting the ethical issues involved, discussing the role of print and electronic media and other instances where museums’ ethical practices are interrogated, and exploring related issues such as artists’ rights.

Rutgers University in Newark is the host: 190 University Ave, Newark, NJ. Registration is free, but space is limited. Visit the conference website for more details and to register.




The newly created Modern Art Iraq Archive (MAIA) is part of a long-term effort to document and preserve the modern artistic works from the Iraqi Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad, most of which were lost and damaged in the fires and looting during the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq by the United States in 2003. As the site shows, little is known about many works, including their current whereabouts and their original location in the museum. The lack of documents about modern Iraqi art prompted the growth of the project to include supporting text. The site makes the works of art available as an open-access database in order to raise public awareness of the many lost works and to encourage interested individuals help document the museum’s original and/or lost holdings.

The MAIA site is the culmination of seven years of work by its project director, Nada Shabout, professor of art history and director of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute at the University of North Texas in Denton. Since 2003, Shabout has been collecting information on the lost works through intensive research, interviews with artists, museum personnel, and art-gallery owners. Shabout received two fellowships from the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq, in 2006 and 2007, to conduct the first phase of data collection. In 2009, she teamed with colleagues at the Alexandria Archive Institute, a California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to opening global cultural heritage for research, education, and creative works. The team won a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a comprehensive archive of works once housed in museum’s galleries. These significant national treasures are displayed in an format that invites worldwide use, including the Iraqi national and expatriate communities. Users are encouraged to help identify and further document individual pieces.

MAIA aims to map the development of modern art in Iraq during the twentieth century and be a research tool to scholars, students, authorities, and the general public. It also strives to raise awareness of the rich modern heritage of Iraq. Furthermore, the creation of an authoritative, public inventory of the collection will not only act as a reminder of its cultural value and thus hopefully hasten its return, but it will also help combat smuggling and black-market dealings of the works.




In response to the possible sale of Jackson Pollock’s Mural (1943) by the University of Iowa and the state legislature, Barbara Nesin, president of the CAA Board of Directors, and Linda Downs, executive director, sent the following letter to editor of the Des Moines Register. While the newspaper did not publish this missive, it did print a letter from Paul B. Jaskot, a professor at DePaul University and CAA president from 2008 to 2010, on February 20. The next day, Jason Clayworth reported that the idea to sell the painting died in legislature.

Letter to the Editor

February 17, 2011

To the Editor
The Des Moines Register

When Peggy Guggenheim donated Jackson Pollock’s “Mural” to the University of Iowa in 1951 she was not donating the cash equivalent of the painting’s value. She was giving the University and the state of Iowa an iconic American painting. The purpose of the gift was to enrich the present and future members of the University community, and to benefit the citizens of Iowa as well as all Americans.

I am writing on behalf of the College Art Association, the nation’s premier visual rights organization, with 16,000 members—artists, art historians, other visual arts professionals and institutions across the country. It would be a major mistake for the Iowa Legislature to pass House Study Bill 84, which would compel the University’s Board of Regents to sell an irreplaceable part of the state’s patrimony.

As teachers, students and arts professionals, we acknowledge the urgent financial situation facing the University, and we note that the bill proposes that any funds earned be used to support scholarships for art majors. Any sale of “Mural,” however, would violate broadly accepted professional museum standards. More importantly, it would rob all Iowans of a remarkable painting, which was intended for them to enjoy and appreciate—in Iowa. We are hopeful that the legislature will reject the bill, to keep the painting in Iowa, where it rightly belongs.

Sincerely,

Barbara Nesin, MFA
President, College Art Association


Linda Downs
Executive Director, College Art Association




The Executive Committee of the CAA Board of Directors has reviewed and approved the support of the following statement, published on February 2, 2011, under the aegis of the Association of Art Museum Directors. You may download a PDF of the letter.

Statement regarding Egypt

New York, NY—February 2, 2011—Recent news reports about the turmoil in Egypt have varyingly reported that some damage was done to works of ancient art in Egyptian museums—and that those who attempted to do harm were stopped. Just as we worry about the safety of Egypt’s citizens in this time of civil unrest, so, too, do we worry about the safety of the country’s cultural heritage—works of art and material culture crucial to our understanding of world civilization and humanity.

We, the representatives of the leading American museums and university art and art history departments, stand with the people of Egypt in their determination to protect 5,000 years of history, including those objects from history that remain unexcavated. Our members—more than 21,000 institutions and individuals—stand ready to assist in any way possible to secure the art and artifacts of Egypt.

Association of Art Museum Directors, Kaywin Feldman, President
American Association of Museums, Ford Bell, President
Association of Art Museum Curators, John Ravenal, President
Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, David Alan Robertson, President
College Art Association, Barbara Nesin, President

Contact

Janet Landay and Christine Anagnos
Association of Art Museum Directors
212-754-8084

Sascha Freudenheim and Elizabeth Chapman
Resnicow Schroeder Associates
212-671-5172 and 212-671-5159




Because fifty-one new members of the United States Congress may be unfamiliar with the important contributions made by the visual arts, the humanities, and museums in their communities, now is a crucial time to join the advocacy efforts of your peers, visit the offices of your federal representatives, and make your voice heard.

Join members of the CAA staff and Board of Directors at three upcoming advocacy events in Washington, DC: Museums Advocacy Day (February 28–March 1); Humanities Advocacy Day (March 7–8); and Arts Advocacy Day (April 4–5).

On the first day of each event, advocates receive training on how best to present a concise, compelling message to congressional leaders. On the following day, advocates gather by state and make personal visits to their senators and representatives on Capitol Hill to address the specific needs, interests, and contributions of their constituents—that is to say, you, your friends and colleagues, and your schools and museums.

The nineteen new senators and thirty-two new representatives (PDF) must be updated on the crucial activities in the arts in their respective states and districts. The most effective educational tool is for advocates to meet their members of Congress and administrative staffs in person. Every state needs representation. CAA urges you to sign up today!




The Executive Committee of the CAA Board of Directors adopted the following statement on December 7, 2010. At the bottom of the page is information about a special session at the upcoming CAA Annual Conference, chaired by Jonathan Katz, a scholar and the cocurator of Hide/Seek.

CAA Statement

The College Art Association regrets the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly (1987) from the exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, on display at the National Portrait Gallery. It was taken out on November 30 by G. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, in response to outside pressure. CAA further expresses profound disappointment that the House speaker–designate, John A. Boehner of Ohio, and the incoming majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, have used their positions to question future funding for the Smithsonian Institution.

CAA applauds the National Portrait Gallery for its groundbreaking exhibition, which presents the long-suppressed subject of same-sex orientation. Furthermore, CAA commends the thorough, pioneering scholarship and the challenging curatorial judgment made by the organizers of Hide/Seek—David C. Ward, a historian at the museum, and Jonathan Katz, director of the Visual Studies Doctoral Program at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. That the work of everyone involved has been heedlessly compromised is deeply troubling. The pressure brought to bear on the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian sounds a familiar note from 1989, when direct federal funding to artists was ended due to political pressure. Then as now, CAA strongly protests such tactics.

Government has a long tradition of supporting universities, museums, and libraries—institutions that have produced research that expresses a variety of positions on all subjects. Freedom of expression is one of the great strengths of American democracy and one that our country holds up as a model for emerging democracies elsewhere. Americans understand that ideas expressed in books and artworks are those of their makers, not of the institutions that house them, and certainly do not represent public policy.

CAA urges all members to let your senators and representatives know of your support for the exhibition, its curators, and the National Portrait Gallery. You may also use advocacy tools provided by the National Humanities Alliance or Americans for the Arts.

Special Conference Session

This week CAA invited Jonathan Katz, cocurator of Hide/Seek, to chair a special Centennial session at the 2011 Annual Conference in New York. He will present “Against Acknowledgement: Sexuality and the Instrumentalization of Knowledge” on Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 9:30 AM–NOON in the Rendezvous Trianon Room at the Hilton New York. Please check the conference website soon for a list of panelists, their institutional affiliations, and topics of discussion.




In the past week, numerous art and museum associations, advocacy groups, nonprofit and commercial galleries, art critics, and newspapers have spoken out against the removal of an artwork by David Wojnarowicz that was on view in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. CAA is compiling a list of organizations, companies, and people who have published official statements, editorials, and letters to the editor.

Organizations

Critics, Journalists, Scholars, and Curators

Museums and Galleries

Press and Publishing

Social Networking and Web Resources

The above list will be cumulative. If you would like to send CAA a link to an official or organizational statement, please write to Christopher Howard, CAA managing editor.




On November 30, G. Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, ordered the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly (1987) from display at the National Portrait Gallery. In addition, incoming Republican leaders in Congress urged that the entire exhibition, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, be closed. Thankfully this did not happen.

Our government clearly needs to hear from you. At this critical time of federal budget planning—when sufficient funding for the Smithsonian museums may be in doubt—it is crucial that you let Capitol Hill know about your support for the visual arts, humanities, and art museums. CAA encourages you to register and take part in three upcoming events this winter and spring in Washington, DC: Museums Advocacy Day, Humanities Advocacy Day, and Arts Advocacy Day. At each, participants meet their senators and representatives in person to advocate for increased federal support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

Previous lobbying experience isn’t necessary. Training sessions and practice talks take place the day before the main events—that’s why, for example, Arts Advocacy Day is actually two days, not one. Participants are also prepped on the critical issues and the range of funding requested of Congress to support these federal agencies. It is at these training sessions where you meet—and network with—other advocates from your states. The main sponsoring organization for each event makes congressional appointments for you.

You may have mailed a letter or sent a prewritten email to your congressperson or senator before, but legislators have an algorithm of interest for pressing issues, in which a personal visit tops all other forms of communication. As citizen lobbyists, it’s also important to have a few specific examples about how arts funding has affected you: don’t be afraid to name-drop major cultural institutions—such as your city’s best-known museum or nonprofit art center—in your examples of why the visual arts matter in your state.

If you cannot attend the three advocacy days in person, please send an email or fax to your representatives expressing your concern about continued and increased funding for the visual arts. If you don’t know your representative or senators, you can look them up at www.congress.org.

Museums Advocacy Day

The American Association of Museums (AAM) leads Museums Advocacy Day, taking place February 28–March 1, 2011, with support from numerous other nonprofit organizations. AAM is developing the legislative agenda for this year’s event. Likely issues will include federal funding for museums, museums and federal education policy, and charitable giving issues affecting museums. The entire museum field is welcome to participate: staff, volunteers, trustees, students, and even museum enthusiasts. Museums Advocacy Day is the ideal chance for new and seasoned advocates to network with museum professionals from their state and to meet staff in congressional offices. Register online now.

Humanities Advocacy Day

The National Humanities Alliance (NHA) sponsors Humanities Advocacy Day, to be held March 7–8, 2011, in conjunction with its annual meeting. Scholars, higher education and association leaders, and policy makers will convene first at George Washington University for the conference and then on Capitol Hill for congressional visits and a reception. The preliminary program includes NHA’s annual business meeting for voting members, commentary on the postelection landscape, discussion of humanities funding and other policy issues, a luncheon and keynote address, and presentations of current work in the humanities. Learn more about registration.

Arts Advocacy Day

To be held April 4–5, 2011, Arts Advocacy Day is the only national event that brings together America’s cultural and civic organizations with hundreds of grassroots advocates, all of whom will underscore the importance of developing strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts. Sponsored by Americans for the Arts, the event starts at the Omni Shoreham Hotel on the first day, before advocates head to Capitol Hill on the second. Registration is open now.




Our three federal cultural agencies—the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services—are in danger of underfunding for fiscal year 2011.

As the economic downturn places increasing pressure on arts and educational institutions throughout the country, now is the time to increase, not diminish, federal investment in the arts and humanities through the NEA, NEH, and IMLS. Read on to find out how you can help.

Ask Your Senator to Commit to Increasing NEH Funding

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) is circulating a “Dear Colleague Letter” in support of increased funding for the NEH. The letter asks for $232.5 million for the endowment, a $65 million increase above what it received last year, and $71.2 million more that what President Barack Obama has requested for fiscal year 2011.

The deadline for senators to sign onto this letter has been extended to Wednesday, May 12, 2010. Please write your senators today, using online advocacy tools from the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), and ask them to demonstrate their support for the humanities by adding their signature to this letter. You can also contact your senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

The sign-on letter, addressed to Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HA) and Vice Chair Thad Cochran (R-MS), and to Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN), is available on the NHA website.

Support a Budget Increase for the NEA

President Obama suggested a decrease of $6.4 million for the NEA when he proposed his 2011 federal budget. Rather than allocate $161.3 million to the NEA, CAA urges you to contact your legislators to request $180 million for the agency for the next fiscal year.

Since the 1960s, the NEA has assisted artists and organizations in the visual arts, dance, design, music, opera, theater, and more. It has also supported crucial CAA programs, including a $20,000 grant to fund ARTspace at the 2010 Annual Conference in Chicago, and a stimulus grant of $50,000 to save a key staff position.

Help the IMLS Continue Giving Grants to Museums and Libraries

A federal agency that supports all kinds of museums and libraries nationwide, the IMLS received $282.2 million in fiscal year 2010, but now faces a $16.7 million drop in funding. The IMLS’s Office of Museum Services is currently funded at $35.2 million, and the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) have joined the NHA to advocate $50 million for the office. Download the AAM issue brief or visit the NHA website to read more about IMLS funding.




In response to Museums Advocacy Day, held on March 22–23, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter to encourage her fellow senators to ask the Senate Appropriations Committee for $50 million in funding for the Office of Museum Services, a branch of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The amount requested for fiscal year 2011 is a $14.8 million increase over the current fiscal year. Gillibrand’s letter is similar to a separate effort in the House of Representatives, supported by Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and Leonard Lance (R-NJ).

The American Association of Museums (AAM) has prepared a form letter that you may use to send an urgent message to your senators. Use the online fields to enter your contact information, which will then select your senator’s name and address. You can then download (as an .rtf) and print the letter to mail or fax, or choose the email option to send your letter right away. You can edit and personalize your missive before sending.




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