Thursday, April 30, 2015

Some Sad News

Museum of Biblical Art
Yesterday I received an email from the Museum of Biblical Art.  It was sent to their mailing list and announced that at the end of the current exhibition, Sculpture in the Age of Donatello, the museum will close.  That is a very sad situation and says a lot about the current state of affairs in New York real estate and the dilemma of non-profit institutions.  The museum website has the same announcement.
The museum has been in existence for ten years.  It was founded to provide a venue for the study of what has been one of the major themes of Western art for centuries, biblical stories.  It was able to operate because it had a favorable arrangement with the American Bible Society which contributed space in its building on Broadway near Lincoln Center.  That landlord-tenant relationship proved to be a happy one.  The museum went on to host some very interesting and well-received exhibitions, some of which I have previously written about. 
Giovanni D'Ambrogio, Annunciation
Italian, late 14th Century
Florence, Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore
Now, however, the relationship that allowed the museum to thrive has turned sour.  For various reasons the American Bible Society decided last year that they would be better off selling their building and moving out of New York.  They have relocated to Philadelphia.   Apparently, plans for the move were not shared with the museum until virtually the last minute, leaving the museum administration to scramble at short notice to find a new location and the funding to support it in an overheated real estate climate that is not friendly to an underfunded non-profit institution in search of a new home.  This is a great pity. 
The museum will remain open until the end of the current exhibition on June 14.  I saw the exhibition about a month ago and was overwhelmed by what it contains, in spite of the fact that there are relatively few pieces on display.  But what pieces!  I intend to write about it, but want to make a second visit to absorb more of the details.  However, in the interim, I urge you to go and see it as soon as you can.  It is well worth a visit.  It is unfortunate that no future exhibitions will follow it.

© M. Duffy, 2015

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