19th Anniversary

2018 in Review TOP MUSEUM ACQUISITIONS i i BY DANIEL GRANT This past year saw more museums taking active roles in social (and sometimes political) discourse, most commonly through programs and exhibitions. Last fall, for instance, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts offered a month-long series of talks about propaganda, black lists, paranoia, and the Red Scare; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta screened a documentary about Tommie Smith’s raised fist gesture during the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. But it hasn’t always worked out as planned. In September, an exhibition at the University Art Museum at Cal State Long Beach that focused on police violence against African Americans morphed into a protest against the museum’s firing, a few days before the show’s opening, of its director Kimberli Meyer. Museums were also the focus of frustratiom— from employees protesting low wages (MoMA PS1 in Long Island City), calls for increased diversity (the Brooklyn Museum’s hiring of a white consulting curator in the African art department), financial ties to corporations (from Big Pharma to non- green energy production), to artists and employees protesting the lack of government preparedness and funding after a devastating fire at the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro this past summer. Controversy also continued with the selling through Sotheby’s of deaccessioned works by the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, for their endowment, and calls for the repatriation of cultural objects at a number of museums. >>> 2019 Antiques & Fine Art 113 Fig. 1: John Singer Sargent (1856–1925), John Alfred Parsons Millet, 1892. Oil on canvas, 36 ¼ x 24⅛ inches. San Diego Museum of Art; Purchased with funds from a variety of donors.