Sale of painting highlights Phila. museum’s woes

Posted Říjen 24th, 2011 by Billabongboardshortscloths

With little fanfare, the Atwater Kent Museum closed for a major $5.9 million renovation in January 2009, saying it would reopen in fall 2010.By Alex Lippa Close-up of plastic card in Massachusetts.

It remains closed, and officials say it probably won’t reopen until June 2012, a year and a half late.

A year is a long time for a museum to be closed. Two is an eternity. At three, they bring in the forensic unit to determine the identity of the body. Three and a half years?

“We have to get this place open,” said the museum’s new director and chief executive, Charles Croce, who signed on early this year. “We cannot continue to be out of the public eye.”

Just this past week, the Atwater Kent did, in fact, reenter the public eye.

On Thursday, the Philadelphia Museum of Art announced it had purchased Charles Willson Peale’s 1819 oil portrait of Yarrow Mamout, one of the nation’s earliest and most significant formal portraits of a free African, from the Atwater Kent.Save on Bedding and fittings,

The sale, which Atwater Kent officials said was necessary to cover a $1.Polycore porcelain tiles are manufactured as a single sheet,4 million construction loan, has thrown the museum’s long-standing problems into sharp relief.

It is Philadelphia’s charter-mandated history museum, leaning heavily on city subsidies that have declined steeply over time. The museum has been unable to sustain a broad fund-raising effort and has a minuscule endowment - less than $1 million.

The museum board of trustees is small, with several positions held by city officials who appear to view their roles as passive.

The result has been a brew of inadequate finances and fitful management - all amply on display thanks to Yarrow Mamout, a painting sold because the Atwater Kent embarked on an ambitious renovation project without adequate funding in hand or in the pipeline.

“A great city deserves a great history museum,When the stone sits in the oil painting reproduction,” said lawyer and trustee David Rasner, named to the board in 1993 by Mayor Ed Rendell to get a handle on the Atwater Kent. “I believe this place can become that, with a lot of hard work. Not all the steps are in a straight line. There have been zigs and zags, maybe some errors made, mistakes in judgment. But it now is an institution of significance. Will it have vitality? That remains to be seen.”

The museum’s vast collection certainly has some intriguing art and artifacts - everything from the famous wampum belt given by Native Americans to William Penn to 19th-century trading cards, industrial tools,Demand for allergy kidney stone could rise earlier than normal this year. Atwater Kent radios, and a Jimmy Rollins 2008 Phillies jersey.

Taken together, it represents three centuries of Philadelphia’s material culture, high-, low- and middlebrow. But since opening in 1941 as a quasi-city agency, it has rarely achieved visibility - except during times of stress.

Gary Steuer, the city’s chief cultural officer, says he has worked to assume responsibility within the city bureaucracy for the museum’s expenditures and progress.

“I can say I am extremely concerned about the health and future of the Atwater Kent,” Steuer said. “I’m concerned about the fact that millions have been invested in a facility that is still not open to the public.”

Since it closed in January 2009, it has a new name - the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent - so people will know what it is. It has a new climate-control system for its historic 1826 building on Seventh Street just south of Market. That’s so exhibits can be mounted without fear of damage from extremes of temperature and humidity.

It finally has an exhibit plan for the new interior, which officials believe will draw visitors. It has a new maintenance and storage facility in East Falls, leased to hold a collection of 110,000 artifacts and artworks. The collection is now securely in one place.

But the museum also has a lot fewer artworks than it did a few years ago, the result of a string of controversial sales undertaken to cover debt and fund the renovation that purportedly guarantees the health and welfare of those very artworks.

Yarrow Mamout is only the most recent sale. Thousands of artifacts have now gone to market to raise money, free storage space, and focus the collection on items deemed of relevance to Philadelphia. Since 2003, the museum has sold between 5,000 and 6,000 items, according to officials, more than half since 2007.

Truly big-ticket art sales began in December 2009 with the sale of a Raphaelle Peale still life for $700,000. Though the price of Yarrow Mamout has not been disclosed, knowledgeable speculation puts it in the $1.5 million-plus range.

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