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Artnet News
The Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pa., is all but broke, according to executive director Kimberly Camp in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. The foundation has cashed in the last $2 million of its endowment and is using the money to fund operations. The $16 million raised by former Barnes director Richard Glanton from the world tour of the school's Impressionist collection has been spent on renovations, and annual operating deficits ($2 million in 1997 alone) have depleted the foundation's $10-million endowment.

Another drain on the Barnes' finances has been legal fees totaling more than $3.5 million from several lawsuits during the Glanton regime. In what appears to be a house-cleaning move, Glanton and Barnes trustee-board head Niara Sudarkasa were both ousted from the Barnes board earlier this month. Camp said the Barnes does not plan to sell any of its priceless art collection but will launch a vigorous fundraising campaign to seek individual and corporate support as well as government and private grants.

The National Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery close for three years beginning on Jan. 3, 2000. Instead of putting the NMAA collection into storage, director Elizabeth Broun has organized eight traveling shows under the umbrella title "Treasures to Go." Among the exhibitions, which will appear at a total of 70 museums, are "Young America" (Copley, Peale, Stuart, etc.), "Lure of the West" (Catlin, Remington, Bierstadt, Taos School), "The Gilded Age" (Sargent, Thayer, etc.) and "Modernism and Abstraction" (O'Keeffe, Hartley, Davis and Kline).

In the meantime, the NMAA is changing its name -- to the Smithsonian's American Art Museum. Broun told the Washington Post she's convinced that visitors looking for the NMAA end up at the National Gallery of Art instead. An official name change requires the consent of Congress, but the NMAA is already calling itself by the new moniker on its press release for the "Treasures to Go" tours.

Two heirs of Natasha Gelman, who died in Mexico last year at age 86 and left her $300-million art collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have gone to court to challenge her will, according to a report in the New York Post. Gelman's cousin Jaroslav Jung and her half-brother Mario Sebastian aren't protesting the art gift. Rather, the heirs claim that Gelman's executor, lawyer Janet Nechis, duped the art aficionado into changing her will while she was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The new will, according to the heirs, diverted an uncertain amount of her "vast fortune" to a charitable trust controlled by Nechis and her former law partner, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Marylin Diamond. The family claims the new will is "highly suspicious." Stay tuned.

Artist and former Lannan Foundation curator Tim Peterson is converting a Minneapolis porno theater into an art center called Franklin ArtWorks. Scheduled to open Oct. 15 in the historical 1916 Franklin Theater, the new center incorporates a 29-foot stained-glass window as well as a 1,200-square-foot art gallery. The renovation so far has cost ca. $700,000, funded by Minneapolis' Neighborhood Revitalization Program, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Franklin ArtWorks will also contain a theater for performance and dance. The center is part of a cultural revival in Minneapolis' Phillips neighborhood, which also boasts the Chicano Cultural Center and the Two Rivers Gallery. Artists slated for exhibitions include Robert Fischer, David Rathman and Stevie Rexroth.

Construction begins Sept. 28 for the new National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall in Washington D.C. The $110-million, 250,000-square-foot museum will occupy 4.3 acres next to the Air and Space Museum. The five-story, rough-hewn limestone structure designed by architect Douglas J. Cardinal (who is of Blackfoot Indian ancestry) evokes the Native American cliff dwellings of the Southwest. Its curving, organic walls feature windows that align with the sun's position during solstices. The Smithsonian Institution has invited 554 tribal leaders to bless the project, which is scheduled to open in late 2002.

The Bass Museum in Miami Beach held its "topping off" party earlier this month to celebrate the completion of exterior work on its $8-million, 37,000-square-foot expansion project, designed by Arata Isozaki with the local firm Spillis Candela & Partners. Bass director Diane Camber told the Miami Herald that she expects the museum to reopen in early 2000 with a new wing featuring a media center, café, terrace and gift shop, as well as a new climate control system. Plans call for a second 38,000-square-foot wing to be completed in 2002.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has received a donation of 75 ancient Chinese works worth over $3.5 million from trustee Eric Lidow and his wife Leza. The acquisitions include Buddhist statues and bronzes dating from 1500 BC to the Han Dynasty. It is the most important gift the department of Far Eastern art has ever received.

You know those culture vultures at the Museum of Modern Art would do anything to hook up with the Spice Girls. So they have. The British pop divas and their Polaroid Spicecams adorn the front page of the July/August edition of MoMA's magazine, even though the picture was cut from MoMA's current blockbuster, "Fame After Photography."

Get ready for another round of "Tut Fever" when "Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids" opens Sept. 16 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 250 works were compiled from 30 museums in 10 countries for the only opportunity to see the exhibition in the United States. After Jan. 9 the show is traveling to the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

HOWARD ARKLEY, 1951-1999
Howard Arkley, 48, Australian painter of candy-colored interiors whose work is on view in the Australian pavilion at the current Venice Biennale, died of a heroin overdose in his Melbourne studio on July 22. Part of the Melbourne punk scene, Arkley took an interest in Pop culture and the suburbs that was in distinct contrast to the focus on landscape of more traditional Australian art. He had recently seen a degree of international success, including a popular exhibition at Karyn Lovegrove Gallery in Los Angeles.

-- Compiled by Sherry Wong