MoMA Acknowledges The Displayers

Recently a friend noted to us, The Displayers were thanked for our participation on the Pipoltti Rist Exhibition page of the MoMA’s website.

The Displayers participation of the Pipilotti Rist Exhibition at the MoMA included creating computer shaped and hand carved / formed 15′ diameter wall enclosures to house the exhibits electronics and projection systems.  Additionally the exhibit was to be ‘seen through the eye of the artist’ and shapes upon the floor and carpet added to the 40′ diameter round blue couch that was to be the iris of the artists eye.  A video of the projects installation can be seen by clicking – Video – the MoMA’s Pipilotti Rist Installation

More – Behind the scenes with Pipilotti Rist.

Armory Show – March 7

The Displayers have been recommended by MMPI (Merchandise Mart Properties) to Gagosian Gallery and Various Small Fires and Liz Magic Laser to develop exhibits for The 2013 Armory Show.  In past years The Displayers work at The Armory Show have included Julian Opie’s Automobiles that graced the entrance of the show that can be seen in the Artist Edition section of our website.

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The Armory Show, a leading international contemporary and modern art fair and one of the most important annual art events in New York, takes place every March on Piers 92 & 94 in central Manhattan. The Armory Show is devoted to showcasing the most important artworks of the 20th and 21st centuries. In its fifteen years the fair has become an international institution, combining a selection of the world’s leading galleries with an exceptional program of arts events and exhibitions throughout New York during the celebrated Armory Arts Week.


Dates and times:

Pier 92 & 94 – Twelfth Avenue at 55th Street New York City

The Armory Show 2013 Opening Day takes place Wednesday, March 6th for invited guests.

Public Hours:

Thursday, March 7th – Saturday, March 9th, 12pm to 7 pm
Sunday, March 10th, 12pm to 7 pm



Piers 92 & 94 are located on Manhattan’s west side on the Hudson River (Twelfth Avenue) at 55th Street in the Passenger Ship Terminal complex. The piers are easily accessible by public transportation, taxi, and private vehicle. The nearest subway stop is four cross-town blocks east at 50th Street and Eighth Avenue.

Shuttle Bus Service:

Shuttles are available between The Armory Show on Piers 92 & 94 and VOLTA NY on 34th Street near Fifth Avenue.

Mass Transit:

Piers 92 & 94 can be reached by public transportation via the Eighth Avenue subway, E or C trains to 50th Street, then via M50 bus line. The M50 bus runs west on 49th Street (to the pier) and east on 50th Street (from the pier) connecting at Eighth Avenue (E or C subway) and at Seventh Avenue (1 or 9 subway). Also, bus lines M16 and M42 provide service to 42nd Street and Twelfth Avenue. For subway and bus information and schedules, call (718) 330-1234

By Car:

From the Lincoln Tunnel, take 42nd Street west to Twelfth Avenue. Continue north on Twelfth Avenue to Piers 92 & 94 (at the Passenger Ship Terminal). From the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, go west via 34th Street to Twelfth Avenue. Continue north to the piers (at the Passenger Ship Terminal). Access to the piers for private cars is available via 55th Street and Twelfth Avenue. All vehicles should follow signs for the Passenger Ship Terminal parking.



History of The Armory Show:

The Armory Show, housed in Piers 92 and 94 along the Hudson River on Manhattan’s west side, is the largest art fair in New York and one of the principal annual art events in the international art market calendar. Visited by tens of thousands of people each March, the Armory has for almost two decades been the showpiece for some of the world’s most important modern and contemporary art galleries. Canonical names from Picasso to Pollock have all been presented at the fair, as have, in equal measure, some of the most cutting edge artists of a younger generation. Organized by The Armory Show, Armory Arts Week has emerged as one of liveliest moments in New York’s already rich cultural calendar, with a number of smaller art fairs temporarily alighting throughout the city and the major museums staging their marquee exhibitions to coincide with the fair.


Founded in 1994 by dealers Colin de Land, Pat Hearn, Matthew Marks, and Paul Morris as the Gramercy International Art Fair, named after its initial location in the legendary Gramercy Park Hotel, The Armory Show acquired its new title in 1999 following the fair’s migration to the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue. The name was an homage to the legendary 1913 exhibition of the same name that also took place in this building, which famously showcased works by avant-garde European artists never previously seen on American soil side-by-side with their American counterparts. This original Armory Show is widely credited for bringing Modern art to New York, and its eclectic and unorthodox mix of genres, juxtaposing Vincent van Gogh alongside Marcel Duchamp and Edward Hopper, has been a source of inspiration for ensuing decades and continues to linger today, 100 years later.


While its location at the 69th Regiment Armory was only temporary, the current Armory Show was inspired by the idea of bringing new art from all over the globe together under one roof. The fair moved to the west side piers in 2001, initially on Piers 88 and 90. Like the fair’s previous locations, the piers feature prominently in New York City history, and are also a characteristic part of its visual make-up, with their finger-like structures poking out from Manhattan on popular bird’s eye view maps of the island.


The piers are numbered according to their original position amongst over a hundred similarly sized piers from the south tip of the island to the Upper West Side. Located between 52nd Street and 55th Street on Twelfth Avenue. The Armory’s piers are on the edge of midtown, with it’s characteristic skyline and flashy neon signs hovering just a few blocks away.


The piers are visual reminders of a significant time in New York’s past, when the Hudson River was central to the city’s transportation infrastructure. Wider than the East River, and connected to timber, coal, livestock, and other natural resources from upstate New York, the waterway carried steamboats and ferries to a budding metropolis long before cars became mainstream. Passengers and cargo were off-loaded at the various piers, which further connected the surrounding area by rail—the Highline, now a public park, extended from the riverfront to the Meatpacking District and SoHo.


As the emergent auto industry gradually diminished the reliance on rail and waterways by mid-century, traffic to west Manhattan thinned. Businesses at the piers closed down and many were left to decay. Their desolate, frail structures could be dangerous territory to frequent, but also offered temporary homes to various artist projects, the most illustrious, perhaps, being Gordon Matta-Clark’s iconic Day’s End on Pier 52 from 1974. As with his characteristic building cuts, the artist, to use his own words, took “a decaying sad reminder of a previous industrial era and renovated it.” While the police were quick to put an end to the huge, gaping hole cut in the far wall of the abandoned pier, thus letting in air, light, and reflections cast by the Hudson’s sparkling water, the intervention stood as a visionary effort to revive the west side waterfront, which was ahead of its time by over thirty years.


In the last decade, significant cultural redevelopment of the area has been underway. The Hudson River Park, extending from Battery Park to 59th Street, is the largest park to be created in Manhattan since Central Park (completed in 1873), and provides home to a marina, sports complex, driving range, canoeing club, and many other popular year-round attractions. The remaining piers closest to the Armory still serve as a hub for ocean-bound ships and cruise liners (with the New York Passenger Terminal handling over one million travelers every year), as well as The Intrepid, the Second World War aircraft carrier, which now houses a museum.


Set within the city’s ever-changing urban landscape, The Armory Show on Piers 92 and 94 has become an integral part of the cultural redevelopment of Manhattan’s west side. As both a leading international art fair and a New York institution, it continues to evolve as a site for discovery and for supporting the great galleries and artists of our time.


Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.

Overview of Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. (MMPI), a division of Vornado Realty Trust, is a leading owner and operator of integrated showroom and office buildings, as well as trade show facilities, bringing buyers and sellers together through market events, trade and consumer events and conferences. As both a property manager and trade show producer, MMPI has been North America’s market maker for the industries it serves, bringing together wholesalers, retailers and consumers for more than 65 years.


NYC x Design

Christine Quinn on Tapping New York’s Vein of Design

New York Times – Currents | Events / By JULIE LASKY / Published: February 13, 2013

After months of vigorous planning, New York will have a 12-day celebration of design this spring extending over all five boroughs. NYC x Design will run from May 10 to 21, to coincide with the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and Frieze New York art fair on Randalls Island. Pronounced “NYC by Design” and interdisciplinary in scope, it will present the work of local designers and architects in museum exhibitions, conferences, studio tours, showroom displays, pop-up stores, art installations and a design film festival.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times NYTCREDIT: Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

The goal is greater visibility for an industry with untapped economic potential, said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn (left), whose office is leading the project with a steering committee of more than 30 design leaders from business, civic and cultural groups. “We have more designers in New York City than any other U.S. city, but we do a terrible job promoting them in their totality,” she said.

Ideally, the festival would seed itself over time and multiply the number of New York design jobs, she said. In the future, “if we’re doing it right, there’s more set designers in Brooklyn and Queens, more furniture designers in Brooklyn and more jewelry designers in the South Bronx and Lower East Side.”

Festival events can be found at, a Web site that was introduced this week. The program will continue to be updated.


Link to The New York Times Article

MOMA – Labrouste Exhibit

The Displayers will construct tables to match those Henri LaBrouste designed for the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in the 1840’s.


The Museum of Modern Art describes this show as:
Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light,
the first solo exhibition of Labrouste’s work in the United States, establishes his work as a milestone in the modern evolution of architecture. The exhibition includes over 200 works, from original drawings—many of them watercolors of haunting beauty and precision—to vintage and modern photographs, films, architectural models, and fragments. Labrouste made an invaluable impact on 19th-century architecture through his exploration of new paradigms of space, materials, and luminosity in places of great public assembly. His two magisterial glass-and-iron reading rooms in Paris, the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève (1838–50) and the Bibliothèque nationale (1859–75), gave form to the idea of the modern library as a temple of knowledge and as a space for contemplation. Labrouste also sought a redefinition of architecture by introducing new materials and new building technologies. His spaces are at once overwhelming in the daring modernity of their exposed metal frameworks, lightweight walls, and brightness, and immersive in their timelessness.

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum

Arts | Connecticut

Mournful, Angry Views of Ireland’s Famine

A Review of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, in Hamden

Mark Stanczak/Quinnipiac University

PROCESSION A print of a grieving family is projected on a video wall. By SYLVIANE GOLD / Published: January 4, 2013

Most museums that bear witness to a nightmare, like Yad Vashem in Jerusalem or the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima, are hard to visit. Caught between our need to understand the history and our wish to turn away from the horror, we don’t quite know where or how to look.

But Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, which opened in October in Hamden, is a different kind of place. For one thing, the event it commemorates, the Irish potato famine, happened too long ago for news cameras to capture piled-up corpses and harrowing testimony. It lacks shocking artifacts, like Hiroshima’s charred, stopped pocket watches. And its contemporary accounts, seen through the period gloss of antique typefaces and hand-drawn images, provide safe distance rather than harsh immediacy.

The museum, a project of Quinnipiac University, presents a selection of these prints and periodicals, as well as letters and other documents, responding in real time to Ireland’s starving populace and deserted villages. But in its inaugural exhibition, it lets later artists, both from Ireland and from the countries in which famine victims settled, do most of the talking. This has the surprising effect of simultaneously softening and sharpening the gruesome facts.

What the Irish now call An Gorta Mor (the Great Hunger) began in 1845, when a deadly fungus attacked the island’s staple food. In tandem with the government in England, which could have mitigated the disaster but found many excuses to limit its role, the potato blight brought Ireland a growing tragedy of slow starvation, rampant disease and escalating despair that did not abate until 1852, by which time a million or more had died and some two million had fled.

It took 150 years after the famine’s worst year, Black ’47, for England to acknowledge some blame for it, and nearly as long for Irish artists to begin grappling with its legacy. So the strongest work in the museum is modern, varying widely in material and ranging in tone from mournful to polemical.

Margaret Lyster Chamberlain’s moving bronze, “The Leave-Taking,” is distinctly in the first key, with its 17 bedraggled figures crowding a ship’s gangway that leads to a new life in America — if they survive the voyage. Another striking bronze, John Behan’s “Famine Cart,” is even more blunt: a skeletal horse drags both itself and a wagon loaded with emaciated cadavers to the burial ground. In “An Gorta Mor” Robert Ballagh uses stained glass for a before-and-after triptych, in which a bucolic farm scene and an eviction flank a half-thriving, half-rotting potato plant. If Mr. Ballagh refers to the Catholic Church in his choice of medium, Kieran Tuohy exploits the Irish landscape itself for his sculpture of a “Lonely Widow,” carved in bog oak.

The painters also defy categorization. Lilian Lucy Davidson’s haunting “Burying the Child” packs an intense emotional wallop, with the central figure leaning into his shovel almost as if he were still digging potatoes; but it is a straightforward image of loss. Nearby, Hughie O’Donoghue addresses the hard times in an abstract watercolor, “On Our Knees.” And in “Black ’47,” Micheal Farrell takes an allegorical approach, depicting a courtroom in which five Irish skeletons emerge from a coffin to accuse Britain, in the reviled person of Charles E. Trevelyan, who ran the government’s disastrously inadequate relief efforts.

“There is scarcely a woman of the peasant class in the west of Ireland whose culinary art exceeds the boiling of a potato,” Trevelyan sniffed in his 1848 book about Britain’s blame-the-victim policies, betraying the contempt with which he viewed the “ignorant and excitable” people he was ostensibly trying to help.

This contempt is visible also in the many famine images of apelike Irish peasants in British journals of the day. They are plastered floor to ceiling, along with illustrated newspaper pages from elsewhere, on a circular enclosure that surrounds the viewer and conveys not just specific horrors from the famine years but also the intense public interest in the Irish suffering abroad and the endless, useless wrangling of the political classes.

It calls to mind the debates that have been raging here and in Europe since 2008, circling around the same old issues of austerity, socialism and responsibility. Trevelyan thought his harsh remedies would lead to a smarter, happier, more efficient, more responsible future. In the galleries of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum we come face to face with what really happened.

Inaugural Exhibition, Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum (Musaem An Ghorta Mhoir), 3011 Whitney Avenue, Hamden. For additional information: or (203) 582-6500.

New York Times Article

Exec hopes math museum adds up – Math Museum – New York

Source Lunch: Exec hopes math museum adds up

Glen Whitney, a 43-year-old math professor turned hedge funder, will soon realize a dream. In December, he will open the Museum of Mathematics, or MoMath, a state-of-the-art interactive museum at 11 E. 26th St. The executive director created the museum in an effort to excite American youth about the sometimes inscrutable field. He left his lucrative job as an algorithms manager at quantitative hedge fund Renaissance Technologies four years ago and set out to build the cultural institution, raising nearly $24 million.

What do you want MoMath to achieve?

The mission is to change perceptions about mathematics. One of our trustees put it very simply: If we can show people just three things—that math is fun, that it’s beautiful and that with it you can get a really good job—then we’ll be a complete success.

Is the United States in trouble because our kids are not up to par in the subject?

Yeah, it’s clear, and you don’t have to take it from us. I was sitting down with someone from Microsoft Corp. just a couple of weeks ago, and they said last year they had 2,500 positions they couldn’t fill because they can’t find people with sufficient math and computer science skills. Raytheon Corp. told us they have 4,500 open positions because of the same thing.

What is the coolest thing at the museum?

That’s a tough question. My favorite is called Feedback Fractals, probably because of how simple it is. There are four video cameras that are all focused on this screen with which you can create an incredible array of striking images that seem to well up out of nowhere.

Is this actually math?

People ask us that a lot about our exhibits because we’re bringing out these aspects of math that people, unfortunately and sadly, don’t get to see in their whole 2,000 hours of forced math exposure over the course of kindergarten to 12th grade. This is math in a whole number of ways. The simplest way is just the understanding that there is a repeating pattern, and that is the root of mathematics.

How did you raise all the money for the museum? Did you hit up your hedge fund friends?

There were a number of things we had to do: Build a board of trustees, raise money, find advisers, find volunteers. Like anything, it’s like ripples in a pond. You start with the people you know. The first rule was go to every [relevant event] and tell everyone you see and meet about this idea.

Did you meet your fundraising goal?

We have one area of critical need: exhibit sponsorship. Our exhibits are very innovative, so we got estimates of how much they would cost. But the fabricators said they’ve never built anything like this before. As a result, the quotes came out much higher than the estimates had been. We will open with about 35 of the planned exhibits. But we still need to raise another $1.5 million to $2 million to complete the vision and get to 45 exhibits eventually.

What is the target age for the museum?

The people we try to keep in mind as we’re creating things is fourth through eighth grade. Kids in elementary school are often excited by math and science, and the kids who are good at it are heroes. Then something happens in middle school, where suddenly it’s not cool to be good at math and science. We want to target that age and have a place that’s really cool, a place where it’s safe to express your love for mathematics.

Were you stigmatized for loving math as a kid?

There were other folks in my high school that got, shall we say, ribbed for being the brainiac, and I was very conscious that I didn’t want that to happen to me. So I tried to lie low a little bit.


Crains New York Article – Jul 15, 2012 5:59 am

6 Tips to Managing Client Expectations

6 Tips to Managing Client Expectations
Inc. Magazine
Michael A. Olguin
May 7, 2012

These tips will help you build longstanding relationships that can withstand the good times as well as the bad.

So much work goes into winning new business, regardless of the vertical space in which you work; there is the initial prospecting, early conversations, strategic program development, budget consideration, and creation of a deliverables timeline. Unfortunately, all of that work can come to a screeching halt before the ink is dry on the contract when the same amount of time, energy and commitment isn’t placed on managing the client’s expectations after the business is won.

To ensure this is never overlooked, we developed the Super Six: keys to developing excellent client expectations and building longstanding relationships that can withstand good times as well as bumps in the road. After all, it’s easy to keep a client when things are going well; maintaining a client when times are tough is the true test of a relationship. We believe the Super Six will aid in this process:

1. Build a relationship that goes beyond client/vendor I have long maintained that business people like working with people they not only respect, but also personally like. Therefore, we believe that developing a personal relationship goes a long way in building a stronger business relationship. Get to know the client’s family situation, how they spend their free time, where their interests lie and, most importantly, what motivates them on a daily basis. When you understand what makes them tick as a person, you can translate that into your business relationship.

2. Regularly communicate and address problems directly A lack of communication is usually at the root of most problems associated with clients. Any good client relationship will be able to weather setbacks if you are proactive in communicating both good and bad news. When communication is direct and transparent, trust forms and helps to create a foundation for long-lasting relationships.

3. Agree on strategy, goals and timelines Until you and your client agree on strategy, goals and timelines, you are always at risk of them not understanding what success is and how it should be measured. We always suggest creating a scope-of-work document that outlines the program details, budgets and metrics. This will alleviate any confusion over expectations and hopefully eliminate a difficult conversation.

4. Be a  Agree on strategy, goals and timelines When you offer your client advice, direction, input and business counsel, you become a truly valuable partner. This style of open dialogue helps to establish the respect necessary to ensure better project management. Clients hire outsourced marketing services because they want an objective opinion. If you fail at giving that POV, you subject yourself to being a “yes man or woman,” which will ultimately be your undoing.

5. Be a good listener Listening is one of the most misunderstood and least used tools in managing client expectations. Many clients are unsure of what they are trying to accomplish or not very good at articulating it. As such, you must have excellent intuition and listening skills in order to identify key messages being communicated. One of the best ways to compensate for a client who communicates poorly is to repeat what you have heard and ask them to confirm the accuracy of key takeaways, which will ultimately impact expectations.

6. Budget is not a bad word Most relationships will go south very quickly if you are not open and honest about budgets. To start, you must be realistic about setting a clear understanding of the budget required to execute the desired program. Throughout the course of the program, you must have regular dialogue about budgets. If you don’t address the client until you have an issue (i.e., operating over budget), you will not only have an unhappy client, you may also find yourself eating the overages.

At the end of the day, your ability to manage client expectations is going to hinge on how well you choose to communicate. If you leave things up to chance, chances are you and your client will both be disappointed. However, if you take the time to listen, be proactive about communicating openly and address any issues head-on, you will keep client expectations in check and be in a good position to grow your relationship over time.

How to Keep Museum-goers Happy

BY  ARTnews

As visitors crowd into blockbusters at rates of more than 800 people per hour,

museums are working behind the scenes to keep guests patient, informed, and calm!

Long lines. Jostling crowds. Mini-stampedes to get a look at the “good stuff.” A trip to a major museum exhibition these days can feel more like a Black Friday sale at Walmart than a rewarding adventure in esthetic uplift. So much so that a Gauguin retrospective at London’s Tate Modern, in 2010–11, elicited a slew of complaints on the museum’s Internet message board. “A good exhibition sadly marred by the gross overcrowding,” read a typical response. “I shuffled along with so many others struggling to see past the backs of so many heads.” The reactions of angry visitors led one art critic to dub the phenomenon “gallery rage,” and if that’s not quite as catchy as “road rage,” it may be endemic to our times.

But there is good news, and it’s twofold: attendance numbers at major exhibitions reveal no sign of flagging (even in a poor economy and even with higher entry fees) and museums are increasingly sensitive to visitors’ needs. Indeed, many devote serious time and personnel to forestalling meltdowns in their halls of culture.

A case in point is the recent Alexander McQueen retrospective at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which broke attendance records for a fashion exhibition at the institution. Visitors lined up for as long as five hours, but nearly all showed “remarkable patience and perseverance,” says Harold Holzer, senior vice president for external affairs at the Met. The museum’s visitor-services department, he adds, “staffed up as never before for McQueen,” and during the opening weeks, they kept a close eye on how many people could navigate the galleries and for how long. “We worked at the beginning of the show to create a flow that would accommodate visitors, protect the art, keep the climate control at ideal levels, and maximize the experience,” he says. “We learned that about 426 visitors per half hour would work best.” In the end, McQueen garnered a total of 661,509 visitors.

If that sounds like a lot, consider that the ongoing spectacular “Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs,” now traveling the globe, still draws about a million people per city and averages 600 viewers per hour. “We put in a great deal of thought beforehand to managing that gallery capacity and managing expectations,” says Mark Lach, senior vice president of Arts & Exhibitions International, the chief organizer behind the King Tut show. When people are paying top dollar—between $28 and $32 admission to see Tut’s treasures—expectations can run unusually high. “You’ve got a certain segment of guests who want it to be that perfect experience,” he adds, “so if parking isn’t right, if the directions to the exhibition are confusing, you end up with a number who are frustrated before they even walk into the show.”

Timed ticketing, with entry slotted at fixed intervals, can help forestall frayed tempers. Simon Blint, head of visitor services at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, says he was spurred to introduce timed ticketing after receiving a serious tongue lashing from a man who had stood on line for an hour and a half waiting to see “Picasso and American Art,” in 2007. “The guy was incredibly frustrated,” Blint says, “and if I recall correctly, he was there with his children. He told me I was an idiot for not doing timed ticketing. And he was right.”

Making it clear up front how much of a schlep museum- goers are in for is helpful. “Don’t keep people in the dark,” Lach says. “Let them know that there are 12 galleries in the exhibition, that they can linger as long as they like, and that there’s a time they can count on for entry.” Any advance information may keep tantrums in check. Lach remembers his own visit to the McQueen show last summer: “As soon as I got on line, there was a little sign on a post that said, ‘From this point on, it’s about a 90-minute wait.’ And there were guest-services personnel handing out pamphlets on the exhibition and doing their best to answer questions.”

Sometimes the personal touch can help sweeten the wait. “A few times, my marketing colleagues got Argo Tea, a local chain, to donate hot beverages to those waiting in line for shows,” says Chai Lee, associate director of public affairs at the Art Institute of Chicago. “At one of our events, our previous director, Jim Cuno, even helped pass out tea and greeted visitors who queued up to get into the museum.”

“I spent a lot of time talking to visitors on line for the Vermeer show in the ’90s, because I would be relaying information to the press,” says Deborah Ziska, chief of press and public information at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. “I was always going out and asking, ‘What time did you come here? How long have you been on line?’ Then I would tell that to the papers, so visitors would know how long a wait to expect.”

“People like to see that you have a system going,” adds Lynn Parrish, assistant director of visitor services at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. “They want to see that you’re organized, and that they’re all being treated the same way. When we have a line outside on the sidewalk, for example, we post staff at various points.” And that can mean a serious number of personnel devoted to one exhibition. For the Met’s McQueen retrospective, Holzer says, “between visitor services and security, we had at least 40 to 50 people working all the time.”

No matter how meticulous the advance planning, museums can’t always predict which shows will be megahits or whether the galleries will provide enough room for uncrowded viewing. For the exhibition devoted to filmmaker Tim Burton at MoMA two years ago, “we were caught off guard,” confesses Parrish. “As the show grew in popularity, things got kind of crazy.” When controlled entry, letting visitors in a few at a time, turned out to be insufficient, the museum turned to a timed-ticket system. Before “Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913–1917” opened, the museum fully expected the show to draw record numbers, and yet the sixth-floor galleries turned out to be spacious enough to see the work comfortably even at peak hours. “The challenge is a big artist in a small gallery,” Parrish says, “and that’s where you have to think about crowds and how you will deal with them.”

“At the New Museum, the response to the Carsten Höller exhibition was unprecedented and largely unexpected,” says Karen Wong, the museum’s director of external affairs. The survey of works by the German entomologist-turned-artist, this past fall and winter, included some unusual showstoppers: a 102-foot slide that corkscrewed down two stories, a sensory-deprivation tank where visitors could float in salt water, and an installation of flashing lights that supposedly induced hallucinations. “The sheer scale and constancy of the attendance surge—which included not only our core visitors but also a large new audience—was way beyond what we imagined.” As a result, staffers had to handle exigencies more typical of a hotel than a museum. “The demand for the supply of slippers, robes, and towels that visitors needed, which required laundering and constant replenishing, greatly exceeded what we anticipated,” notes Wong. To cover the tab, the museum raised the cost of regular admission from $12 to $16. The price hike wasn’t permanent—it has since dropped to $14—but it showed, Wong says, “how increased resources can translate into improved customer service.”

However, a big turnout can sometimes translate into lower ticket prices. For last year’s exhibition “Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art,” the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, promoted a limited-time two-dollar discount on tickets for lower-traffic slots on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. “Those tickets sold well, and as a result high-traffic days weren’t oversubscribed and less-popular time slots were filled more than they might have been,” says Jennifer Garza, director of membership and guest services at the museum.

One great boon for museums sponsoring heavily attended blockbusters has been the number of memberships sold. More than 23,000 people purchased memberships to the Met during the run of the McQueen show, allowing those visitors to skip the line. (Another 17,000 paid $50 to see the exhibition during its last eight Mondays, when the museum is normally closed.) Similarly, MoMA sees its memberships soar when it implements timed ticketing. “We let members go any time they want to when there’s a timed-ticketed show,” says Parrish, “which is good and bad because it creates a variable—you don’t really know what’s going to happen. You might have a hundred members per half hour with their guests, or you might have 15 members.”

But blockbusters can also bring headaches in the form of ticket scalping. During the recent major exhibition of works by Leonardo da Vinci at the National Gallery in London, websites like eBay had tickets priced as high as £400 (about $628) when the regular charge was £16 ($25) per person. The National Gallery in Washington, D.C., faced similar problems for two of its biggest hits, “Johannes Vermeer,” in 1995, and “Van Gogh’s van Goghs,” in 1998. Museum passes, which are free, “were going for more than Redskins tickets at the time,” says Ziska. “A lot of homeless people would get on line for passes and then go off and scalp them.”

Museum personnel encounter other possibly devious tactics used to slip into popular shows. “You’d get calls from people who would give you these stories and you just don’t know what to think,” says Ziska. “‘My mother has cancer, and this is her last wish. Can you please get us in?’ Sometimes you don’t know what to say, but you try to believe them, to be sympathetic.”

Of course there are things visitors themselves can do to make a museum trip more pleasurable, no matter how packed the galleries. After newspaper reports of “gallery rage” at Tate Modern last year, Tim Dowling, a columnist for the Guardian, offered a set of cheeky-but-practical tips for making the most of the blockbuster experience. Go early or late, he advised, and tour the show nonsequentially, since “visitors tend to bunch up at the first few works of art.” Skip the audio tour for the same reason, and wear a high-visibility vest: “It makes you look official; people will be afraid to jostle you.” He even suggested forgoing the crowd-pleasers entirely. “Cultivate a taste for the overlooked, the offputting, the little understood and the poorly reviewed.”

Ann Landi is a contributing editor of ARTnews.

By Ann Landi Posted 03/27/12

Obesity and Other Targets of Children’s Museums

PLAY WITH A PURPOSE   EatSleepPlay at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan is intended to promote children’s health.

CHILDREN’S museums do not usually have exhibitions that involve crawling through a giant digestive system.

A child exits a maze designed to explain the function of the intestines in the digestive process.

But such an installation — along with a play center where visitors learn the power of pedaling, bouncing and jumping and a place to meet superpowered vegetable heroes — is part of a larger effort by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan to help prevent childhood obesity.

While children’s museums are primarily known as activity centers to divert the younger set and to help form future museumgoers, they are increasingly focused on social outreach. “Part of our mission is to provide access,” said Andy Ackerman, executive director of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. “Social issues, education, health and creativity — it’s all a continuum, and we can connect those domains and reinforce each of them.”

The Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore has adapted museum exhibits and programming for children with special needs. The Young at Art Museum in Davie, Fla., has an afterschool arts program for homeless students. The Providence Children’s Museum in Rhode Island helps children in foster care find permanent families. And the Children’s Museum of the Arts in Manhattan provides a place for foster-care children to reunite with their birth parents by making art together.

“As resources become more and more scarce, everybody’s looking to children’s museums to fill varying kinds of needs for children and families,” said Janet Rice Elman, executive director of the Association of Children’s Museums in Arlington, Va. “These are places where families can learn through play — from science to early literacy skills to parenting — in settings that are joyful.”

Many of these programs involve collaborations with other organizations that have specific expertise. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan on the Upper West Side, for example, developed its so-called EatSleepPlay effort with the National Institutes of Health and collaborates with the City University of New York on training at-home child-care providers in teaching literacy, math and science.

The Children’s Museum of the Arts in SoHo has joined with Henry Street Settlement’s Urban Family Center to bring free weaving, printmaking and sculpture to children living in transitional housing, culminating with a children’s art exhibition and a reception for families and friends. And the Boston Children’s Museum is joining with Head Start, Boston Public Schools and the City of Boston to prepare students for kindergarten.

“We want to be relevant to our communities,” said Jeri Robinson, the vice president for early childhood and family learning at the Boston museum.

Museums are also developing continuing relationships with outside experts. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, for example, has worked closely with health advisers like Dr. Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington. Her research helped the museum develop the sleep section of the EatSleepPlay exhibition,  covering topics like preparing for sleep, what happens during sleep and how much sleep children need.

Rather than serving as just one more recreational option, children’s museums are recasting themselves as essential anchors in their communities — “the hub or the center,” Mr. Ackerman said.

“Educating through the arts,” he added. “That’s how you change behavior.”

The New-York Historical Society is seeking to educate with its new DiMenna Children’s History Museum, which opened last fall. Young visitors learn about prejudice by studying the life story of James McCune Smith, the first African-American to earn a medical degree. They learn about money and credit by visiting the Alexander Hamilton pavilion. “All of the exhibits we’ve developed are focused on teaching a skill or a behavior,” said Louise Mirrer, the president and chief executive.

The museums are also reaching beyond their walls to take their programming more aggressively into underprivileged neighborhoods. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is replicating its exhibitions in East Harlem’s public housing. It sends two artists to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center every week to work with children. And it is running health and literacy programs in the Bronx and New Orleans.

And children’s museums are making a concerted effort to draw specific groups of people who might otherwise not come through their doors. On Mondays, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan is open to children with autism and their families, as well as to school groups. “They need a quiet venue,” Mr. Ackerman said.

The ARTogether program at the Children’s Museum of the Arts brings foster children together with their biological parents to create art, led by a clinically trained, licensed art therapist. The museum recently expanded the effort to include families with children at risk of being placed in foster care. It has hired staff members who speak Mandarin and Cantonese.

“You can come to our space and participate alongside other folks who maybe aren’t having the same challenges,” said David Kaplan, the museum’s executive director. “You want to be supportive of families in the program but you want to be empowering them — you don’t want them to rely on you forever. Eventually you want them coming to the museum on their own terms and on their own time.”

In opening a larger space last fall, the Children’s Museum of the Arts hopes to generate more revenue to benefit children at risk, to provide a “nice, safe environment for people to come to,” Mr. Kaplan said.

Not only are children’s museums seeking to educate, they want their visitors to feel comfortable entering cultural institutions for many years to come and to see exhibitions that affirm their own experience. “The audiences who are living here want to be able to come here and see their lives reflected,” said Ms. Robinson of the Boston museum.

In some cases, the exhibits also take the visitors to places they have never been. The museum now features a Japanese silk weaver’s house that was a gift from Kyoto. “Many of our kids will never go to Japan,” Ms. Robinson said. “But they can have an authentic Japanese experience by coming to our house.”

By Robin Pogrebin / Published: March 14, 2012 / on page F2 of the New York Times

NYC Museums are Drawing Record Crowds

Crain’s Magazine

Picture this: NYC museums are drawing record crowds for cheaper entertainment given the still shaky economy, and a number of strong exhibitions is drawing massive crowds to many institutions.

At the Guggenheim Museum, average monthly attendance so far this year is up 28% over last year. During the mid-April spring break week, the museum had the highest attendance ever recorded for that time period since it began tracking figures in 1992.

Throngs of people are lining up each day outside the Cooper-Hewitt,National Design Museum to see “Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels.” The show is attracting more than 9,000 visitors a week, a record for the museum. Overall, the Cooper-Hewitt estimates its total attendance for the year will end up at 235,000, a 26% jump from last year.

“People are becoming members [of the museum] at the door just so they can go right into the show,” said Caroline Baumann, associate director of the Cooper-Hewitt, which will close in July for two years for a major expansion. “We have to put special systems in place to manage the crowds.”

Museum experts say attendance often grows during recessions. A study released last month by the American Association of Museums found that 50% of the nation’s museums had more visitors last year, with 32% reporting a significant increase. Though the recession is technically over, arts observers say many New Yorkers are still unsure economically and are taking their vacations at home. At the same time, international tourists are flocking to the city to take advantage of the weak dollar.

Less costly shows

The Metropolitan Museum of Art already enjoyed record attendance of 5.2 million during the past fiscal year, ended June 30. Officials at the museum say this year’s attendance is on track to at least equal that number. The Met’s current exhibition of Paul Cézanne’s card player paintings brings in 4,500 visitors on weekend days, and the Costume Institute show on the late designer Alexander McQueen, which opens this week, is expected to attract crowds.

Interestingly, the success at the gate comes as many museums have been forced by a drop in funding to build less costly shows around their own collections instead of bringing in popular but expensive loan shows.

At the Guggenheim right now, for example, there are no collections from Armani or motorcycle shows. The crowds are coming for a simpler exhibit from the museum’s own holdings titled “The Great Upheaval: Modern Art from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910- 1918,” which features a number of paintings recycled from the museum’s previous show.

“Museums are looking at their own collections and repackaging things in ways that are really fresh or more appealing to people,” observed Joe Harrell, director of marketing and product management at the Alliance for the Arts. “If you have a Picasso exhibit or expressionists in New York,people are going to eat it up, because this is what they think of when they think of these institutions.”

Despite museums’ newfound popularity, the earned income from the increased attendance hasn’t been enough to make up for the financial losses from cuts in government and private funding during the recession. Art experts say that for every dollar museums take in from visitors, they have to raise $3 from donors to keep operations going.

The American Museum of Natural History has two shows right now—“The World’s Largest Dinosaurs” and “Brain: The Inside Story”—that are full to capacity.But executives there said the admissions income will barely make a dent in a decreased endowment and the loss of some city and corporate funding.

Budgets remain depressed

El Museo del Barrio had one of its most popular exhibitions ever this past fall: “Nueva York 1613- 1945.” The show, presented with the New-York Historical Society, brought in 54,000 people and received rave reviews.

And since El Museo del Barrio reopened in the fall of 2009 after a major renovation, attendance has more than doubled, reaching 250,000 visitors last year.

But earned revenue makes up only 7% of the museum’s budget. With major cuts in corporate and especially government support, El Museo del Barrio must reduce its operating budget to $4.5 million from $6 million for the next fiscal year. Still, museum officials anticipate some tangible benefits from all this newfound popularity.

“Fundraising has gone down; it’s been tough with the recession,” said Suzy Delvalle,director of external affairs and development at El Museo. “But our renovation has been transformational. The bigger attendance numbers are great and will help us with fundraising going forward.”!


BY MIRIAM KREININ SOUCCAR / May 2, 2011 – Crain’s Magazine



Crain’s New York – The Displayers

An article about our beginning.


Display maker puts together a solo effort

THE FAMILY BUSINESS CAN BE a frustrating place for a budding entrepreneur. Eager to make his own way, Greg Rathe abdicated his position as third-generation heir apparent at Rathe Productions, a big designer of trade shows and museum exhibits. Instead, four years ago he founded his own outfit, The Displayers.

“Growing your own company is something you don’t get a chance to do in a 55-year old family business,” says Mr. Rathe. Naming his company after his grandfather’s biggest competitor in the 1950s.

Mr. Rathe targeted an eclectic array of businesses, designing and installing trade show booths, exhibitions and showrooms.  Mr. Rathe says he made a specialty of fast turnarounds, calling on relationships he’d built up with suppliers during his years at the family business and assembling a melting pot of specializations on his staff.

The company balances display design with corporate identity work. Projects include in-store marketing materials for Apple Computer stores and acrylic logos for DKNY stores in Europe.  Museums may offer the most fertile ground for growth, as the size of The Displayers’ projects for that segment is increasing. The Displayers served as construction manager for the renovation of the Jewish Museum’s permanent exhibition and recently won a commission to create a 3,000-square foot exhibit at the New York City Police Museum.

The Displayers has grown to 1.4 million in revenues and eight employees.  That’s a far cry from Rathe Productions’ army of almost 100 architects, graphic designers, carpenters, metalworkers, engineers, computer specialists and artists, but Mr. Rathe says he has no regrets. “It’s like a fishing village – the sons go off and get their own boats,” he says. “There’s plenty of fish for everybody.”