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CAA News Today

News from the Art and Academic Worlds

posted by Christopher Howard — Jul 24, 2013

Each week CAA News publishes summaries of eight articles, published around the web, that CAA members may find interesting and useful in their professional and creative lives.

The Rise of the Machines: NEH and the Digital Humanities, the Early Years

Stephen Mitchell suffered from allergies. “When the trees come out, I can’t see. People stand around saying, ‘Isn’t it lovely,’ but I weep,” he told the New York Times in 1965. A thirty-five-year-old professor at Syracuse University, he found sanctuary in the temperature-controlled environment of the school’s computer center, where he surprised many people by showing how computers could be used to advance work in the humanities. (Read more in Humanities.)

Well-Marked Paths to Tenure Put New Professors at Ease

Peter Seldin has visited more than 350 colleges as a consultant specializing in faculty evaluation. At nearly every one, he says, young faculty members have the same problem: “They are scared to death.” The reason, he says, is that unclear expectations about tenure generate apprehension among tenure-track faculty members who are worried their careers might stall or jump the rails. (Read more in the Chronicle of Higher Education.)

AHA Statement on Policies regarding the Embargoing of Completed History PhD Dissertations

In its June 2013 meeting, the AHA Council drafted a statement on policies regarding best practices for embargoing completed history PhD dissertations. “The American Historical Association,” the document begins, “strongly encourages graduate programs and university libraries to adopt a policy that allows the embargoing of completed history PhD dissertations in digital form for as many as six years.” (Read more from the American Historical Association.)

Detroit Art Caught in Bankruptcy Battle

Detroit, which became the largest city to declare bankruptcy in United States history, is home to one of the most prestigious collections of art in the world. And one of the options on the table to deal with its crippling debt is for all of that to be sold. But it’s not so simple. To Rod Spencer, the Detroit Institute of Arts is priceless. “The DIA is the history of Detroit. That’s what it means to me,” he said. (Read more from CBS News.)

Does Art Help the Economy?

An unexpected upshot in the wake of Britain’s latest spending review was the fate of the culture budget—it avoided a pummeling. What might be considered an easy target in a time of austerity emerged relatively unscathed, with only a 5 percent decrease in funding from £472 million to £451 million. The arts world had already been hit by a 30 percent cut meted out in the 2010 budget and had been waiting to find out whether they might be granted a reprieve at this latest round of belt-tightening. This time, advocates for arts funding breathed a collective sigh of relief, with the budget reduction described as a “best-case scenario.” (Read more in the Atlantic.)

LACMA, Broad, and Other Art Museums Work to Put Storage on Display

Behind an art museum’s gleaming galleries lies the off-limits and uninviting space that can hold as much as 95 percent of its collection: storage. These spaces are often packed with hundreds or even thousands of paintings, decorative art objects, and other artifacts that can languish, unappreciated and untouched by curators, for years. But as a way to bring art out from its underbelly and display more of a museum’s possessions, several institutions are embracing “visible storage” in public areas, exhibiting the art without the expense of a spacious, beautifully installed and curated show. (Read more in the Los Angeles Times.)

Smithsonian Institution Grapples with Maintenance of Its Growing Inventory

The world’s largest museum complex is bursting with stuff, from elephants to first-lady gowns, biological specimens to space shuttles. Now, the Smithsonian Institution is grappling with a long-term challenge: how to maintain the 137 million items in its collection. Last week the Committee on House Administration held a collections stewardship hearing to discuss challenges to implementing a maintenance plan to care for the art, archival footage, and dinosaur bones. (Read more in the Washington Post.)

Art Education Fails to Paint a Pretty Picture

The views of older men of painting are often dismissed as out-of-touch and old-fashioned, harking back to a mythical golden age. But the critical remarks made by the acclaimed artist Ken Currie, in advance of his first exhibition in over ten years—Meditations on Portraiture at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery—warrant consideration. He raises serious questions about the problems with art schools today. (Read more in the Scotsman.)

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