– King Herod's Tomb to Grace Israel Museum: Some 30 tons of artifacts pertaining to the architectural legacy of infamous monarch King Herod — including his reconstructed tomb and sarcophagus — will be included in an exhibition at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem that opens February 12 and runs for nine months. "It's a name that's always on everyone's lips," said Israel Museum director James Snyder. "And yet there has never been an exhibit devoted to his material." Palestinian observers, meanwhile, have questioned the decision to move many artifacts found in the West Bank to Jerusalem, and claim the excavations that uncovered the tomb are yet another example of the politicization of archeology in the area. [AP]
– Chicago Museums Hike Entrance Fees: Two Windy City institutions have caught wind of the fee-raising trend, and as of yesterday admission to the Art Institute of Chicago costs Chicagoans an extra $2 (a total of $18), while out-of-towners are being charged an additional $5 ($23). Meanwhile at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago residents now pay $15 — a $2 increase — while visitors from elsewhere are charged $18 — up from $15. Both institutions claimed economic pressures — including the upkeep of very complex exhibits at the Science and Industry museum — as the reasons for the price hikes. "If we didn't have to do it, we wouldn't do it," said Douglas Druick, director of the Art Institute. [Chicago Tribune]
– Auctions See Mixed Year-End Results: The year-end numbers are in from the auction houses, and they paint a mixed picture. Christie's sold a record $6.3 billion of fine and decorative art, up 10 percent from last year. Sotheby's auctioned $4.4 billion worth of art in the same period, down 12 percent from 2011. One reason for the divide is that top Christie's specialists were given bigger budgets to woo heavyweight sellers by offering guarantees. Nearly 20 percent of buyers at Christie's this year were new to the auction house. [WSJ]
– Ken Johnson Takes the Stage to Challenge Critics: The art world is still riled up about two reviews penned late last year by New York Times critic Ken Johnson. The articles inspired a pointed online petition that garnered over 1,000 signatures and touched off a debate about sexism and racism in art criticism. That debate will continue at two upcoming panel discussions, one at Brooklyn's Kunsthalle Galapagos on January 30 and another at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts on February 10. Johnson will speak at both. [AiA]
– Studio 54 Goods For Sale: Memorabilia from legendary nightclub Studio 54 is hitting the auction block in West Palm Beach this weekend. The collection includes polaroids by Andy Warhol, photographs by Peter Beard, and a few oddities, like a letter from the president of Cypress Hills Cemetery. It came after proprietor Steve Rubell denied entry to the president of Cyprus, mistaking him for the president of the Brooklyn cemetery. The Cypress Hills president wrote that he was furious that, had it been him, he would have been turned away. [NYT]
– British Museum Deputy Director Departs: Andrew Burnett, a veteran of the British Museum's department of coins and medals from 1992 to 2003 who has served as its deputy director for the past 10 years has stepped down. Plans for his successor are currently under review, according to a British Museum spokesperson, with an announcement expected next month. During his time as deputy, Burnett helped shepherd through the World Conservation and Exhibition Centre project that is slated to open next year. [TAN]
– Innovation Expo Comes to Washington: The Smithsonian and the Patent and Trademark Office are teaming up to launch the Innovation Expo, which will showcase patented technologies from American companies and run at the PTO's headquarters in Alexandria, VA from June 20 to 22. The star of the expo — watch out now, this is meta — will be none other than the United States patent system and its role in promoting innovation and technological development. The collaboration between the two institutions is expected to continue for several years. [NYT]
– Contemporary Arts Foundation Names 2013 Grant Winners: The Foundation for Contemporary Arts has announced the 14 artists in five disciplines who will receive an unrestricted grant of $25,000 each this year. The visual arts grantees, fast-rising L.A. artist Wu Tsang and New Yorker Matt Hoyt, are joined by performance artist Paula Court, choreographer Faye Driscoll, poet Beverly Dahlen, and others. [Artforum]
– Picasso Vandal Held on $500,000 Bond: A Houston judge has decided that Uriel Landeros, the artist who fled to Mexico after spray-painting a Pablo Picasso work at the Menil Collection last year before turning himself in earlier this month, is a flight risk, and has imposed a $500,000 bond for his release while he awaits his trial on charges of graffiti and criminal mischief. (He's expected to file a not guilty plea for both.) Meanwhile, "Woman in a Red Armchair" has nearly made a full recovery from the incident, thanks to the Menil's conservation staff. "To the naked eye, you and I would not know it had been touched," said delightfully named Menil spokesperson Vance Muse. "We are very, very relieved." [AP]
– Inaugural Robert Rauschenberg Award Goes to Trisha Brown: The Foundation for Contemporary Arts has given its inaugural Robert Rauschenberg Award to choreographer Trisha Brown, a longtime friend of the late artist. The $25,000 annual award was endowed by a $720,000 grant from the Rauschenberg Foundation and the artist's estate. The accolade is meant to honor Rauschenberg's "legacy of innovation, risk-taking and experimentation." [Artforum]
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