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The staid British Museum greets next spring with "sexual allure and cunning intelligence" -- that is, with ďCleopatra of Egypt,Ē Apr. 12-Aug. 26, 2001, a blockbuster devoted to the last of the great Ptolemaic monarchs that includes colossal sculptures, bronzes, ceramics, coins and gems. The exhibition traces Cleo's life and liaisons with the two great Roman rulers, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, and demonstrates that the Queen of the Nile -- who also ruled Rome for a year or two -- was able use her early celebrity quotient to manipulate her lovers, her priests and her peoples. The show, which opened at the Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome last fall and comes to the Field Museum, Chicago, Oct. 18, 2001-Mar. 3, 2002, features seven surviving images of Cleopatra in the Egyptian style and two Hellenistic sculpted portraits.

On another note, the British Museum opens its new Sainsbury African Galleries in the lover level of the Great Court on Mar. 3, 2001.

After the less than stellar reception to its Biennial 2000, the Whitney Museum of Art has dropped its one-time experiment with a nation-wide committee of curators and appointed Lawrence Rinder, its curator of contemporary art and a member of last yearís panel, as the chief curator to the 2002 Whitney Biennial. Chrissie Iles, the museumís curator of film and video, is in charge of the works to be shown at the museumís film and video gallery and Whitney associate curator of contemporary art Debra Singer is selecting the performance and sound art. Rinder and Singer are also responsible for curating the upcoming digital art exhibition, "BitStreams," which opens Mar. 22, 2001.

New Yorkís Public Art Fund is presenting Paul McCarthy's studio ... in a box. Big deal, you say? Yes, considering that the exact replica of the Los Angeles abject-art pioneerís atelier has been rotated 90 degrees so everything in it -- including chairs, refrigerator, sculptures, shelves, tables, video equipment, works in progress, etc. -- is attached to the wall. The Box, originally created for a show in St. Gallen, Switzerland, can be seen in the sculpture garden of the former AT&T Building at 590 Madison Ave. at 56th Street, Feb. 21-Apr. 20, 2001. The installation coincides with the artistís first career survey, spanning 25 years, at the New Museum in SoHo, Feb. 22-May 13. Want still more? Then truck on over to Luhring Augustine in Chelsea to see the artistís installation Santa Chocolate Shop (1997) and two maquettes for Blockhead, Feb. 17-Apr. 7, 2001, or down to Deitch Projects in SoHo, where The Garden is on view, Feb. 23-Apr. 7, 2001.

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum has selected husband-and-wife team Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos of Amsterdamís UN Studio to design its multimillion-dollar expansion and renovation, reports the Hartford Courant. The project is the 159-year-old Connecticut museumís first major building development in over 30 years -- and itís been long-overdue: 43,000 out of 45,000 objects from the Atheneumís permanent collection remain in storage from lack of exhibition space, and, incredibly, the museum has never had a genuine loading dock. The location for the new building has not been decided, but groundbreaking is tentatively set for June 2002 and completion is slated for 2006. Total costs are to be determined upon completion of all plans and designs, including an environmental artwork for the museumís exterior by artist Maya Lin.

Cutting-edge Chelsea gallery Postmasters is presenting Brooklyn-based artist John Klima's first solo exhibition, "Go Fish," featuring interactive media installations with real life consequences, Feb. 17-Mar. 24, 2001. Among the curious works in the show is Fish, a kind of arcade video game (viewers insert a quarter to play) in which a virtual goldfish is guided to safety through treacherous, predator-infested waters. If you lose the game, a real goldfish is automatically released into a large bowl containing a live Oscar fish, which promptly devours it. Adding to the excitement of the piece is the possibility for intervention by animal rights activists. Last February, police in Copenhagen confiscated a work of art by Marco Evaristti featuring live goldfish in kitchen blenders after animal rights groups complained that visitors were being invited to switch the appliances on.

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
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