What Happened in Museums this Week?

What Happened in Museums This Week? February 1 – 7

Chicago Museum and Zoo Attendance Dipped in 2013

Even as attendance dropped overall at area museums and animal attractions in 2013, it was a very good year for horticulture.

The Chicago Botanic Garden had more than 1 million visitors for the first time since it opened in 1972, a 5 percent increase over 2012, while the Morton Arboretum climbed to 885,000 visitors in 2013, up from 809,000 the year before. To read more, click here.

Civil War Puts Syria’s Cultural Heritage In Peril

In addition to the lives lost in Syria as its conflict rages on, the country’s cultural heritage is also being lost. Art and artifacts have been looted, important archeological sites and museums damaged. Renee Montagne talks to UNESCO‘s Assistant Director-General for Culture Francesco Bandarin about the destruction of Syria’s cultural heritage and what’s being done to protect it. To learn more, click here.

Dallas Museum of Art Adds Major Collection of Islamic Art on Long-Term Loan

One of the world’s largest private holdings of Islamic art will come to the Dallas Museum of Art on loan in May, museum officials announced Monday.

The loan, described as renewable in 15 years, will transform the museum’s Islamic art collection into the third largest of its kind in North America, according to DMA officials. To read more, click here.

Denver Museum of Nature & Science Enters New Wing and Era

After a ribbon-chewing ceremony by a life-size replica of a T. rex skeleton, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science will enter a new era in its 114-year history next week, when it opens a massive new wing for exhibitions, classrooms, studios, research facilities and storage of its collections.

Move-in day for the museum’s more than 1.4 million artifacts will actually stretch over two years, officials say. But, on Feb. 14, the museum will open parts of its $70 million, 126,000-square-foot addition, the Morgridge Family Exploration Center, to host the largest exhibition about the ancient Maya ever displayed in the United States. To read more, click here.

Industrial Museum’s Future in Bethlehem in Jeopardy

The opening of the National Museum of Industrial History is already 15 years behind schedule, but a scathing grand jury report calling it grossly mismanaged may make raising the money needed to finish the Bethlehem project nearly impossible.

With $2 million left to raise before it can open, the museum now faces the possibility of losing some public money it was banking on. The Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority is having second thoughts about giving the museum $340,000. To read more, click here.

Morocco Will Soon Be Home to the World’s Largest Museum Devoted to Photography

Recently, to draw attention to the new Marrakesh Museum for Photography and Visual Arts, organizers invited a group of well-known photographers to spend a week in Marrakesh documenting their encounters with the city and its people. Abbas, an Iranian-born photographer living in Paris, took them up on their offer.

“My whole experience was defined by the first steps I took in the narrow streets of the Medina, the old city,” he says. “A little girl saw me and I had my camera in my hand — and I had no intention of photographing her — and she points her finger to me, very aggressively, and she says (in Arabic) don’t you dare take my photograph.” To read more, click here.

Presidio Trust Offers George Lucas Another Spot for Museum

The Presidio Trust, having nixed George Lucas’ plan for a museum across from Crissy Field, is instead offering the “Star Wars” creator a site next to his Letterman Digital Arts Center to house his collection of Americana art and Hollywood memorabilia.

The spot is just west of the old Letterman Hospital building, which the director transformed in the early 2000s into the home for Lucasfilm’s special-effects and game units as well as its corporate offices. To read more, click here.

Red Light Secrets Museum Opens in Amsterdam

On any given evening, thousands of tourists stroll down the narrow canal-side streets of Amsterdam’s famed Red Light District, gawking at ladies in lingerie who work behind windows, making a living selling sex for money. Now a small educational museum is opening Thursday in the heart of the district to show reality from the other side of the glass. To read more, click here.

The Future of Museums in China

The hotel concierge had heard of neither of the museums I intended to visit that day. Not all that surprising, perhaps, until you consider the scale of the institutions in question. One was the Long Museum, a 10,000 square metre private art gallery owned by one of the biggest art collecting couples in China. The other was the Power Station of Art (PSA), Shanghai’s first public museum of contemporary art, named for the enormous former industrial building it occupies on the banks of the Huangpu river.

Both were about to celebrate their first birthdays at the time of my visit to Shanghai in September last year and both were eerily quiet. No one likes an overcrowded gallery, of course, but there’s definitely something off-putting about being in a museum alone. To read more, click here.

Who ‘Won’ The Creation Vs. Evolution Debate?

Days after a wide-ranging debate on creationism and evolution between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, the event is driving an online conversation. Themes of belief and literalism, logic and faith – and, for some, relevance – are being aired and disputed. And some wonder what the debate accomplished.

The video of the more than two-hour debate, in which Nye and Ham presented their views on how the Earth and its surroundings were created, has been viewed more than 830,000 times on YouTube. At one point, the live event drew more than 500,000 viewers. To read more, click here.

What headlines caught your eye this week?

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