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  • June 04, 2019 5:09 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Insurance Business America

    Museums don’t just have eight mischievous female criminals to fear these days, as hackers can prey on cultural institutions from a great distance and do just as much damage. However, it’s not the million-dollar artwork hanging on the walls and sitting behind glass cases that’s most threatened when cybercriminals attack.

    “Their biggest concern is the personal information of their donors,” said Richard Mercado (pictured), vice president of commercial insurance for Huntington T. Block, an operating unit of Aon plc. He also added that many museums do online marketing and sales, which puts credit card information at risk. “Those are really what they’re most concerned about, and how that would impact their business if there was a cyberattack on their systems. Part of that is the public image, and if important confidential information of their clients, especially donors, is exposed.”

    Public relations are a huge concern, considering that museums often need private funds to keep their institutions up and running.

    “Museums primarily rely on huge donors,” said Mercado. “Some of the largest museums rely a lot on private donations, although some do get money from the government. That is definitely an area of most concern to them if they are hacked, [and] the consequence of donors not having as much confidence in the museum, [which] ultimately would drop donations for the institutions.”

    With cybercrime losses on the rise, risk managers at museums are paying more attention to the evolving risk and how to prepare for it, should an incident throw their networks into turmoil and put donor data at risk. Many museums today have chief information officers or in-house IT managers who oversee the safeguarding of their systems.

    “They know that it’s not really a matter of whether they will be attacked, but it’s more of when they might be attacked and how catastrophic it might be if they do not contain it or prevent it,” explained Mercado.

    While there haven’t been any major instances of museums being hacked yet, Mercado has seen threats of social engineering, where a cybercriminal has attempted to dupe a museum director or another officer in the organization to release funds via an email where they impersonate another higher-ranking employee.

    “From a social engineering perspective, one of the best things that everybody has learned to do is call back. If you get an email from supposedly the president of the museum or the director of the museum instructing you to wire $50,000 somewhere to Africa, the best thing to do is just call up the person wherever they might be and ask if they actually sent this order or not,” explained Mercado. “Museums are also becoming more wary and more careful if they don’t need social security or information of an individual or their donors. They are really trying to minimize storing and even obtaining confidential information if they don’t have to.”

    he largest museums are already making their systems more secure, whereas mid-sized and smaller museums, sometimes because of limited resources, may not have all the necessary tools to protect themselves, and those are the ones that usually do not think that they are vulnerable, according to Mercado.

    Similarly, crafting a cyber insurance policy for a museum also depends on the size of the institution.

    “Museums with operating budgets of less than $10 million are much easier to underwrite in the sense that we can easily provide those coverages under their commercial package policy as an additional coverage,” said Mercado. “But for the larger museums, with $10 million or $50 million and above of operating budget, normally the underwriters really want to write them separately and more expensively, because of the volume of data and records that might be exposed.”

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  • June 04, 2019 5:04 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Cultural Property News

    In a recent longform article for The Art Newspaper, Barbara Pollack highlighted the extraordinary rise in public protests taking place at America’s leading art museums. These are not reactions to polemical new artists, or even a revival of the playful ‘Renoir Sucks’ protests of yesteryear. In most cases, the art and artifacts on display in these museums were entirely tangential to the protesters’ ire. The protesters’ grievances with the museums vary, from contributing to gentrification to accepting donations from the Sackler family, a branch of which is heavily implicated in the American opioid crisis. The targeted museums have not just been passive sites for protest; some museum staffers have added their own voices to the outcry. The clearest case of this participation took place at the Whitney Biennial, at which protesters gathered repeatedly to call for the removal of Warren B. Kanders’ from the museum’s board. Members of the Whitney staff, as well as the majority of artists showing at the Biennial, have joined in the call for Kanders’ removal. Several of the public protests took place during an exhibition that featured artwork highlighting crowd-suppression by security forces using tear-gas canisters manufactured by a subsidiary of Kanders’ own Safariland Group.

    The Whitney is not the only art museum using its public platform to combat ongoing perceived political and social injustices. Apart from providing a venue for protest, many museums are looking inward, seeking ways to reform their collections, programming, and staff, to better serve a diverse (and outspoken) audience. Modern art museums in particular are now deliberately adding works by non-male and non-white artists to their permanent collections and temporary shows.

    In parallel with the wide range of exhibitions of art by a diverse cast of contemporary artists, historical museums in major cities are increasingly pursuing programs celebrating the history of world art and indigenous cultures. The British Museum currently features an exhibition, Reimagining Captain Cook: Pacific Perspectives, which pairs artifacts collected by Cook on his exploratory voyages with artwork by contemporary Pacific artists reflecting on their history. The exhibition was planned to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Cook’s voyage but focuses not on the experiences of the British explorers but on the long-term effects of their reports on perceptions of the Pacific Islanders. The legacy of Cook’s voyage and the traditional role he has been given in Australia as “discoverer of the continent” is the subject of polarizing debate there. Cook’s methods of acquiring some of the exceptionally rare objects in the exhibition are also controversial and raise broader questions about where and by whom such objects should be held, among them a Tahitian formal costume which he collected, one of very few still in existence.

    Putting on exhibitions of art and artifacts from across the world is nothing new for Western art museums, but what has changed is the attitude taken by the host institutions to the artworks on display.  Increasingly, there are attempts to acknowledge the artworks as part of a living tradition, and recognize them as the heritage of peoples who are among the intended beneficiaries of the show. During their recent Oceania exhibition, the Royal Academy offered all citizens of New Zealand and Pacific Islanders free admission, while a notice on the main exhibition page informed all visitors of the cultural importance and sensitivity of the artifacts on display: ‘This exhibition includes many objects that Pacific Islanders consider living treasures. Some may pay their respects and make offerings through the duration of the exhibition.”

    Public displays of sacred (and secular) cultural property from indigenous groups are never uncontroversial or universally accepted, but the Oceania exhibition received strong positive responses from British and Islander reviewers alike, and was welcomed by members of the Pacific community. Pacific Islanders were invited to bless the exhibition spaces before they opened, in a ceremony which included dancers in traditional dress progressing through the London street and into the RA’s gallery space.

    These new exhibitions of art and material culture from specific ethnic or cultural groups are also increasingly curated by representatives of those groups. This has become a priority, to the degree that curator Brian Just of the Art Institute of Chicago recently made the determination to postpone an exhibition of Mimbres pottery until a Native co-curator for the show was given a consultative role.

    The British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and similar institutions are better able to pursue a more diverse exhibition program than smaller regional museums. These major institutions have long-established collections of historical art and artifacts from across the globe – another reason why they are criticized for ‘hoarding’- but their vast resources are what enables them to build comprehensive exhibitions in the first place. Any voids in their collections can be temporarily supplied through loans facilitated by their prestigious reputations and their long-established relationships with fellow museums and private collectors. For less well-endowed ethnographic and art historical museums, diversifying their collections is an even greater challenge than diversifying their staff. Museum-quality objects are simply harder to attain, and public attention and private funds are more often directed to contemporary art than to historic collections.

    Even so, older artworks continue to play a powerful role in contemporary political discourse. The impact that museums of art and culture will have in future depends greatly upon who has access to historic artworks, and what facilities museums have to educate their publics about the achievements of all cultures, not just Western traditions.

    Berlin recently witnessed a poignant illustration of the power of art, and the importance of museum’s political attitudes towards their own collections and how they are displayed. In April 2019, the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, discovered that images of one of their artworks, Slave Market, by French Orientalist painter Jean-Léon Gérôme, had been appropriated for use in an anti-immigration campaign by the far-right party Alternative for Germany. The AfD, as it is known, is the third largest political group in Germany, having risen to prominence since its founding six years ago on a platform which includes a hardline anti-immigration stance. In recent years, the party and its members have been charged with racism, anti-feminism, homophobia, xenophobia, antisemitism, and Islamophobia. The aptness of Gérôme’s painting for appropriation by an organization hoping to promote fear and distrust of Syrian, North African, and Turkish migrants in Germany is undeniable. Slave Market depicts a light-skinned, nude woman, surrounded by three darker-skinned men in Ottoman dress, one of whom has inserted his fingers into her mouth, to check the condition of her teeth. Gérome’s work, as art historian Linda Nochlin has observed, projects European sexual fantasies and racial stereotypes onto a depiction of the Middle Eastern slave trade whose accuracy is, at best, dubious.

    Unwilling to have their art collection politicized in this way, the Clark immediately submitted a letter to the AfD, calling on the party to cease all use of the image for its public campaign. Despite the Clark’s protest, the AfD has declined to take down any of their posters and will continue to use Gérôme’s painting to promote their views on immigration. Unfortunately, as Oliver Meslay, director of the museum, has stated, they have no options for controlling the use of the painting’s image “other than to appeal to civility on the part of the AfD Berlin.” Bereft of the power to prevent similar distorting appropriations of art, both long-past and recent, museums can fight back only by doing what they have always done: help their visitors better understand the histories of their own and other cultures, through the display of art and artifacts.

    The very same international immigration, which the AfD and like-minded right-wing parties in Europe and America oppose, has contributed to the multiculturalism of modern cities across Europe and America. These diverse populations are being served by local art and history museums who are coming to recognize their responsibility to tell the stories and celebrate the heritages of all their communities. This is not just an obligation but an opportunity – a museum that speaks to a wider audience will have more visitors and higher visibility, leading to more vocal public support, donations, loans, and funding. Yet smaller regional museums, and museums in countries without a colonial history, are all at a disadvantage when attempting to develop collections of cultural artifacts that reflect the ethnic and cultural makeup of their 21st century communities.

    In today’s increasingly restricted and polemical art market, these institutions will find it difficult to expand their holdings to reflect new goals for diversity. Relentless public scrutiny makes the acquisition of any kind of foreign cultural property very risky for museums, even in cases involving legitimately excavated artifacts or legally purchased antiques that left their source countries long before national-ownership laws were enacted. Museums are public institutions, and dependent on popular goodwill for the patronage that keeps them alive. Newspapers hungry for content to fill the twenty-four-hour news cycle, and the constant, critical conversation on social media, have made museums wary of controversy of any kind. Meanwhile, memoranda of understanding and blanket export bans dash the collection-building dreams of diversity-conscious curators.

    If the museums of the future are to fulfill their function as educational institutions and as shared spaces that represent the backgrounds and heritage of all their community members, a new system for the circulation of art needs to be put into place. Perhaps artworks need to be issued with passports of their own, so that cultural property can retain its ties to its homeland while traveling around the world, just as people do.

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  • June 04, 2019 4:59 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Forward

    A note reading “Hitler is coming” was found on a billboard designed for comments by visitors to the Brooklyn Jewish Children’s Museum.

    Police are investigating the note, left Thursday, as a hate crime, a spokesperson told the New York Post.

    Visitors alerted police to the anti-Semitic note at the Crown Heights museum. The city’s hate-crime task force took over the investigation, authorities said.

    Mordechai Lightstone, a Chabad rabbi, wrote on Twitter: “This is just awful. An interactive sign in front of the Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights asking people how they would transform the world was defaced with Antisemitic graffiti!”

    Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement about the incident: “We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, discrimination or hate of any kind in New York, and no person should ever feel threatened because of their religious beliefs.”

    He has ordered the state police to assist the NYPD in their investigation.

    The museum was one of many Jewish institutions targeted in a wave of fake bomb threats in 2017 that were found to have been called in by an Israeli teenager.

    The note came soon after two anti-Semitic incidents in Crown Heights. On Wednesday, two men approached an Orthodox Jewish woman sitting on a bench and said “Hail Hitler” to her, and tried to follow her and harass her as she ran away. Earlier this week, a 27-year-old Orthodox man was slapped in the back of the head by a man riding by on a bike.

    Crown Heights has seen a spike over the past year and a half in anti-Semitic incidents, exposing racial tensions in the neighborhood, which is majority black but has a large Hasidic Orthodox population, primarily from the Chabad group. The incidents, which many residents have said are broadly underreported, run the gamut from verbal harassment to violent assaults.

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  • May 20, 2019 9:15 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from The Local

    French lawmakers on Friday debated a controversial draft law for restoring Notre-Dame within five years, after the iconic Paris cathedral sustained major fire damage last month.

    Renovating the 850-year-old Gothic cathedral, whose wooden roof was largely destroyed in the April 15 blaze, will be an unprecedented challenge for the government, which has drafted a special bill for managing the huge project.  

    Days after the fire, French President Emmanuel Macron set a target for the restoration to be finished within five years, meaning it should be ready by the time Paris hosts the Olympics in 2024. 

    But the draft legislation, which aims to speed up the construction process, has sparked controversy because it would involve removing some of the rules protecting the ancient structure.

    As the debate opened, Culture Minister Franck Riester told MPs that although five years was "an ambitious timeframe" for renovating Notre-Dame, which took 200 years to build, the project would "not be done in haste".

    "Yes, we want to move quickly. Some have accused us of wanting to move too quickly but the outpouring of generosity was very fast so we can and must respond, which is what we are doing," he said.

    So far, nearly €1 billion has been donated or pledged for Notre-Dame, with Riester pledging that the funds will go "entirely and exclusively" to its restoration. 

    Experts believe the total bill will come to between €600-700 million, with some raising questions over what will be done with any leftover money, suggesting it could be channelled to other crumbling churches and cathedrals. 

    France's Observatory for Religious Heritage (OPR) says there are between 40,000 and 60,000 churches and chapels in France, 5,000 of which are in a state of dilapidation.

    The draft law also outlines the creation of a public body to oversee and carry out the work within a rapid time frame, but more controversially grants the government power to override regulations on planning, environmental and heritage protection and public tenders.

    But Riester said the provision would not be used to cut corners.

    "There are very precise rules which apply to the restoration of heritage buildings and property which are formalised in the code on cultural heritage and which correspond to France's excellence in this field," he said. 

    "It goes without saying that these rules will be applied, I will guarantee it."

    The law does not mention the architectural aspects of the project, with some MPs keen to push through legislation stating that the work will ensure the cathedral is rebuilt exactly as it was without any creative additions. 

    Images of the ancient cathedral going up in flames sparked shock and dismay across the globe as well as in France, where it is considered one of the nation's most beloved landmarks. 

    Notre-Dame has figured as a central character through the ups and downs of French history since construction began in the mid-12th century.

    It was vandalised and plundered during the French Revolution in the 18th century, but went on to feature as a central character in a Victor Hugo's 1831 novel "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" which is credited with helping save it. 

    It survived the devastation of two global conflicts in the 20th century and famously rang its bells on August 24th, 1944, the day of the Liberation of Paris from German occupation at the end of the World War II.

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  • May 20, 2019 9:06 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from the NY Times

    I. M. Pei, who began his long career designing buildings for a New York real estate developer and ended it as one of the most revered architects in the world, died early Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 102.

    His death was confirmed by his son Li Chung Pei, who is also an architect and known as Sandi. He said his father had recently celebrated his birthday with a family dinner.

    Best known for designing the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the glass pyramid at the entrance to the Louvre in Paris, Mr. Pei was one of the few architects who were equally attractive to real estate developers, corporate chieftains and art museum boards (the third group, of course, often made up of members of the first two). And all of his work — from his commercial skyscrapers to his art museums — represented a careful balance of the cutting edge and the conservative.

    Mr. Pei remained a committed modernist, and while none of his buildings could ever be called old-fashioned or traditional, his particular brand of modernism — clean, reserved, sharp-edged and unapologetic in its use of simple geometries and its aspirations to monumentality — sometimes seemed to be a throwback, at least when compared with the latest architectural trends.

    This hardly bothered him. What he valued most in architecture, he said, was that it “stand the test of time.”

    He maintained that he wanted not just to solve problems but also to produce “an architecture of ideas.” He worried, he added, “that ideas and professional practice do not intersect enough.”

    Mr. Pei (pronounced pay), who was born in China and moved to the United States in the 1930s, was hired by William Zeckendorf in 1948, shortly after he received his graduate degree in architecture from Harvard, to oversee the design of buildings produced by Zeckendorf’s firm, Webb & Knapp.

    At a time when most of his Harvard classmates considered themselves fortunate to get to design a single-family house or two, Mr. Pei quickly found himself engaged in the design of high-rise buildings, and he used that experience as a springboard to establish his own firm, I. M. Pei & Associates, which he set up in 1955 with Henry Cobb and Eason Leonard, the team he had assembled at Webb & Knapp.

    In its early years, I. M. Pei & Associates mainly executed projects for Zeckendorf, including Kips Bay Plaza in New York, finished in 1963; Society Hill Towers in Philadelphia (1964); and Silver Towers in New York (1967). All were notable for their gridded concrete facades.

    The firm became fully independent from Webb & Knapp in 1960, by which time Mr. Pei, a cultivated man whose understated manner and easy charm masked an intense, competitive ambition, was winning commissions for major projects that had nothing to do with Zeckendorf. Among these were the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., completed in 1967, and the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse and the Des Moines Art Center, both finished in 1968.

    They were the first in a series of museums he designed that would come to include the East Building (1978) and the Louvre pyramid (1989) as well as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, for which he designed what amounted to a huge glass tent in 1995. It was perhaps his most surprising commission.

    Mr. Pei, not a rock ’n’ roll fan, initially turned down that job. After he changed his mind, he prepared for the challenge of expressing the spirit of the music by traveling to rock concerts with Jann Wenner, the publisher of Rolling Stone.

    The Cleveland project would not be Mr. Pei’s last unlikely museum commission: His museum oeuvre would culminate in the call to design the Museum of Islamic Art, in Doha, Qatar, in 2008, a challenge Mr. Pei accepted with relish. A longtime collector of Western Abstract Expressionist art, he admitted to knowing little about Islamic art.

    As with the rock museum, Mr. Pei saw the Qatar commission as an opportunity to learn about a culture he did not claim to understand. He began his research by reading a biography of the Prophet Muhammad, and then commenced a tour of great Islamic architecture around the world.

    Bold Yet Pragmatic

    While the waffle-like concrete facades of the Zeckendorf buildings were an early signature of his, Mr. Pei soon moved beyond concrete to a more sculptural but equally modernist approach. Throughout his long career he combined a willingness to use bold, assertive forms with a pragmatism born in his years with Zeckendorf, and he alternated between designing commercial projects and making a name for himself in other architectural realms.

    Besides his many art museums, he designed concert halls, academic structures, hospitals, office towers and civic buildings like the Dallas City Hall, completed in 1977; the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, finished in 1979; and the Guggenheim Pavilion of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, finished in 1992.

    (I. M. Pei & Associates eventually became I. M. Pei & Partners and later Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.)

    When Mr. Pei was invited to design the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, he had the opportunity to demonstrate his belief that modernism was capable of producing buildings with the gravitas, the sense of permanence and the popular appeal of the greatest traditional structures. When the building opened in 1978, Ada Louise Huxtable, the senior architecture critic of The New York Times, hailed it as the most important building of the era, and she called Mr. Pei, at least by implication, the pre-eminent architect of the time.

    Most other critics also praised Mr. Pei’s angular structure of glass and marble, constructed out of the same Tennessee marble as John Russell Pope’s original National Gallery Building of 1941, reshaped into a building of crisp, angular forms set around a triangular courtyard. Mr. Pei, many critics said, had found a way to get beyond both the casual, temporal air and the coldness of much modern architecture, and to create a building that was both boldly monumental and warmly inviting, even exhilarating.

    In 1979, the year after the National Gallery was completed, Mr. Pei received the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, its highest honor.

    At the same time that he was receiving plaudits in Washington, however, Mr. Pei was recovering from one of the most devastating setbacks any architect of his generation had faced anywhere: the nearly total failure of one of his most conspicuous projects, the 700-foot-tall John Hancock Tower at Copley Square in Boston.

    A thin, elegant slab of bluish glass designed by his partner Henry Cobb, it was nearing completion in 1973 when sheets of glass began popping out of its facade. They were quickly replaced with plywood, but before the source of the problem could be detected, nearly a third of the glass had fallen out, creating both a professional embarrassment and an enormous legal liability for Mr. Pei and his firm.

    The fault, experts believed, was not in the Pei design but in the glass itself: The Hancock Tower was one of the first high-rise buildings to use a new type of reflective, double-paned glass.

    The building ultimately won numerous awards, including the American Institute of Architects’ 25-Year Award. But it took eight years of legal wrangling, millions of dollars and the replacement of all 10,344 panes of glass in the facade before the Hancock’s troubles could be put to rest and the building could be appreciated as one of the most beautiful skyscrapers of the late 20th century.

    The problems delayed its opening by three years, its temporary plywood windows a constant reminder to all Boston of its troubles, which cost I. M. Pei & Partners so many clients that Mr. Pei almost had to close the firm.

    “The glass company had a lot of money, and Hancock had a lot of money, but we didn’t have a lot of money,” he told The Times in 2007.

    The long struggle to resolve the problems at the Hancock, and the fallout from the crisis, made the 1970s, despite the triumph of the National Gallery in Washington, a bittersweet decade for Mr. Pei.

    Although he was correct that his firm lacked the funds of the huge corporations he was struggling with, he was not without substantial resources, at least for an architect.

    Son of a Banker

    Ieoh Ming Pei was born in Canton (now Guangzhou) on April 26, 1917, the son of Tsuyee Pei, one of China’s leading bankers. When he was an infant, his father moved the family to Hong Kong to assume the head position at the Hong Kong branch of the Bank of China, and when Ieoh Ming was 9, his father was put in charge of the larger branch in Shanghai. He remembered being fascinated by the construction of a 25-story hotel.

    “I couldn’t resist looking into the hole,” he recalled in 2007. “That’s when I knew I wanted to build.”

    He was brought up in a well-to-do household that was steeped in both Chinese tradition — he spent summers in a country village, where his father’s family had lived for more than 500 years, learning the rites of ancestor worship — and Western sophistication.

    Deciding to attend college in the United States, he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania. But when he concluded that he was not up to the classical drawing techniques then being taught at Penn, he transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from which he received a bachelor of architecture degree in 1940.

    At the recommendation of his father, who was concerned about the threat of war and the growing possibility of a Communist revolution in China, he postponed his plan to return home. Instead he enrolled at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard, where he studied under the German modernist architect Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus School.

    Discovering that there were relatively few men at Harvard during the war years — “It was me, a Chinese national, and the ladies,” he once recalled — he decided to join the war effort and volunteered to work for the National Defense Research Committee in Princeton, N.J., where he became an expert on fusing bombs.

    “They figured if you knew how to build buildings, you knew how to destroy them,” Mr. Pei said.

    While he was at M.I.T., Mr. Pei met another Chinese national, Eileen Loo, who had come to the United States in 1938 to study art at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Like Mr. Pei, she was from a distinguished Chinese family. The two married as soon as she graduated, in 1942. Eileen Pei began graduate work in landscape architecture at Harvard while her husband worked toward his advanced architecture degree, which he received in 1946.

    He taught briefly at Harvard and planned to return to China in time. But then he was approached by Zeckendorf, who was looking for a talented young architect to head a new in-house design team.

    Mr. Pei, refined and genteel, could not have been more different on the surface from the brash Zeckendorf. But the men shared a bold ambition, a love of French wine and a belief that architecture could improve cities. Mr. Pei decided to make the move to New York. He, his wife and their two young sons left Cambridge, Mass., and settled in an apartment on Beekman Place in Manhattan.

    The Zeckendorf years were a heady beginning for Mr. Pei’s career. Before long he had hired one of his former students at Harvard, Henry Cobb, who would remain associated with him for more than 60 years. The architect Ulrich Franzen also began his career working under Mr. Pei at Webb & Knapp, where the architecture department had charge of large-scale projects in New York, Washington, Montreal, Denver, Boston and other cities.

    No matter how committed William Zeckendorf was to Mr. Pei’s designs, however, he was still a commercial real estate developer, and Mr. Pei did not want to spend his entire career working for someone else. With Zeckendorf’s blessing he began to seek some outside commissions, including the Luce Memorial Chapel in Taiwan and the Green Earth Sciences building at M.I.T., and he gradually began to separate himself from his patron.

    When Zeckendorf’s empire ran into serious financial problems in 1960, that became a good excuse to turn I. M. Pei & Associates into a fully independent firm.

    The Choice of the Kennedys

    Mr. Pei quickly began to gather both large and small architectural assignments, among them the National Airlines terminal at what is now John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, and the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library in Columbus, Ind., a city famous for its architecture.

    But the commission that truly thrust Mr. Pei into the forefront of American architects was for a building that would take 15 years to build and would bring him a sense of triumph and frustration in equal parts: the John F. Kennedy Library.

    He was chosen in 1964 by Jacqueline Kennedy (later Onassis), who liked the fact that he was young — he and John F. Kennedy were born just a month apart — and only beginning to come into his own. His selection over Louis Kahn, Philip Johnson, Gordon Bunshaft and Paul Rudolph made it clear that he was no longer viewed as a developer’s architect but as a major talent on his own.

    But political objections to the library’s original site in Cambridge delayed the project for years, and by the time it was built, both the new site, at Columbia Point in Boston Harbor, and the scaled-down design represented major compromises.

    During the years the Kennedy Library was being planned, the Pei firm grew rapidly. There were still more museums, like the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University, and large urban complexes like the Christian Science Center in Boston, as well as the project that would bring Mr. Pei his greatest notoriety in Boston, the John Hancock Tower, and the museum that would bring him his greatest acclaim, the East Building of the National Gallery.

    As his firm grew in size and prestige — it would eventually employ 300 people — Mr. Pei seemed to become the quintessential New Yorker. He and his wife and family, which grew to include three sons and a daughter, moved to a townhouse on Sutton Place, facing the East River, where he remained for the rest of his life. He became an avid collector of postwar American art, and his townhouse contained works by Morris Louis, Dubuffet and de Kooning; he also designed a weekend house for his family in Katonah, N.Y., in Westchester County, where he installed a 16-foot-high sculpture by Anthony Caro.

    Mr. Pei never played down his connections to China. His children were all given Chinese names, and when he won the Pritzker Prize in 1983, widely viewed as the highest honor a living architect can receive, he used the $100,000 award to establish a scholarship fund for Chinese architecture students.

    His eldest son, T’ing Chung, an urban planner, died in 2003. His wife of 72 years, Eileen, died in 2014. In addition to his son Li Chung, who is known as Sandi, he is survived by another son, Chien Chung, also an architect, who is known as Didi; his daughter, Liane; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

    Mr. Pei’s younger sons joined with him to form their own firm, the Pei Partnership, in 1992, at which point I. M. Pei began stepping aside from the firm he had founded and devoted most of the last years of his career to working with his sons.

    He did not go back to China until 1974, when he returned as part of a cultural exchange tour organized by the American Institute of Architects. There, he did not hesitate to criticize the banal, Soviet-influenced architecture that he saw, and he gave a talk in which he urged the Chinese to look back at their own traditions rather than “slavishly following Eastern European patterns.”

    The criticism did not deter the Chinese government from inviting Mr. Pei, by then the most famous Chinese-born architect in the world, back again, this time to design a group of high-rise hotels in the center of Beijing. He declined, saying that he feared such buildings would deface the city.

    The government, not willing to let him get away so easily, then offered him a rural site outside the city and asked him to design a resort hotel there. This time he said yes, and produced the design for Fragrant Hill, a sprawling building in which he tried to combine the geometric modernism of his other buildings with elements from traditional Chinese architecture.

    It was the first of a few attempts Mr. Pei made to acknowledge the growing interest of many architects in reusing historical form; in a similar vein, he would later design a high-rise hotel in Midtown Manhattan, the Regent (now the Four Seasons), which tried to evoke the romantic, stepped-back forms of prewar New York skyscrapers.

    The opening of Fragrant Hill was a major international event. Jacqueline Onassis, whose friendship with Mr. Pei remained strong throughout the years of delay over the Kennedy Library, attended, as did Carter Brown, the director of the National Gallery. But Mr. Pei later admitted that he considered the building, which was poorly constructed and not well maintained, a disappointment.

    In 1982, Mr. Pei would have a very different kind of opportunity in China when the governors of the Bank of China in Hong Kong, the bank his father had once run, traveled to New York to meet with Tsuyee Pei, who had long since left China and was living in Manhattan. Their mission was to ask the senior Pei, in a demonstration of traditional Chinese etiquette, if he would agree to allow them to invite his son to design a new skyscraper headquarters for the bank in Hong Kong. (Tsuyee Pei was bitterly opposed to the Communist Chinese government, but he did not stand in the way of his son’s taking the job.)

    It would turn out to be one of Mr. Pei’s most notable towers, a narrow 70-story composition of triangular and diamond shapes, built of glass and steel.

    A Pyramid as a Portal

    Mr. Pei would make his biggest international mark, however, in France, with a smaller but far more contentious project. In the early 1980s President François Mitterrand, an admirer of the East Building at the National Gallery, invited Mr. Pei to update and expand the Louvre Museum, which was sorely in need of renovation to accommodate a huge increase in visitors.

    Mr. Pei proposed building a glass pyramid in the center of the ancient Cour Napoleon to serve as a new main entrance to the museum. He quickly found himself in the center of an international controversy, accused of defacing one of the world’s great landmarks.

    He argued that his glass pyramid was merely an updated version of a traditional form, and that his redesigned courtyard had been influenced by the geometric work of the French landscape architect Le Notre. It was rigorously rational, in other words, and in that sense classically French.

    What carried the day, however, was not Mr. Pei’s argument, true as it may have been, but President Mitterrand’s determination. The pyramid opened in the spring of 1989, and the elegance of the finished building, not to mention its geometric precision, won over most, if not all, of its opponents.

    Within a few years the pyramid had become an accepted, and generally admired, symbol of a re-energized Paris. And like the Kennedy Library, the John Hancock Tower and another controversial Pei project from the 1980s, the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York, it stood as a measure not just of I. M. Pei’s design talent but also of his patience and perseverance.

    In retirement, Mr. Pei remained eager for news of both architecture and art and, until his last year, continued to make the occasional trip downtown to lunch with friends and consume his share of red Bordeaux.

    His 100th birthday, in 2017, was marked with an elaborate black-tie dinner, given by his children, at the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center, where he was toasted by many of the world’s leading architects, some of whom had begun their careers working for him, and a circle of friends that included prominent members of the Chinese community in the United States, who considered him among their most eminent figures.

    As he blew out the candles on an enormous cake in the angular shape of the monumental Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, his last major building project, Mr. Pei beamed.

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  • May 20, 2019 9:01 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from EdTech

    For university administrators, the number of physical threats to college campuses in 2018 demonstrated a dire need to keep safety and security a top priority. Technology can help close the gaps in physical campus security initiatives, streamlining current systems and helping to introduce new ones. 

    As Kim Milford, executive director of the Research and Education Networking Information Sharing and Analysis Center at Indiana University, described to EdTech in an interview, the physical and cyber risks universities face have become increasingly intertwined. 

    “Let’s say there’s a physical threat on campus, like a hurricane. Because of the physical, all sorts of cyber ramifications happen,” said Milford. “If there’s a really big cyber event, like a breach, there will be physical ramifications.”

    3 Digital Solutions for Higher Education Physical Security Risks

    Just as the risks breach the divide between physical and digital, so too do risk management solutions. Here are a few best practices for universities to help ensure their campuses are safe. 

    1. Seamless alert systems: Whether there is a fire in the chemistry building or an active assailant on campus, it is imperative that all students, faculty and staff are alerted immediately to any present danger. Universities can approach emergency communication systems a few different ways. At the University of Illinoisadministrators can push visual alerts through digital signage around campus. Meanwhile, universities such as Texas A&M University have strategically placed beacon technology around campus to send push notifications to all mobile phones, alerting users directly of any reported danger. 
    2. IP network cameras: For campus security officials, a keen eye on campus activity is crucial for maintaining safety. Unlike analog closed-circuit television cameras, these security cameras are controlled through a remote network and do not require a separate recording device. By controlling security cameras through a LAN, campus police monitor live feeds and review past video more quickly. At Virginia Commonwealth University, IT and security leaders partnered with Cisco to create web of security cameras connected to the campus network, EdScoop reports. At VCU, officers can see the feed from any camera from a centralized command center, giving them more flexibility to monitor the campus. 
    3. Communication applications for mobile devices: Alert systems are important lines of communication, but they are also one-sided. Students must have ways to report any suspicious activity or emergency to campus officials efficiently. At VCU, CIO Alex Henson implemented a way for students to contact campus police through a mobile app. When it comes to lines of open communication, says Henson, there can never be too many. When a hurricane hit campus, officials were able to connect with students and staff over seven communication channels, ensuring everyone on campus received a message and could contact security services as needed.

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  • May 20, 2019 8:49 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from CNN

    Imagine an empty gallery in a museum. It's just you, a 200-year-old masterpiece and the quiet. The brush strokes of a Rembrandt painting draw you in, and with your hands behind your back, you lean in to study the colors and textures.

    Looking sideways, you spot the security guard at the door, standing bored and inattentive. You could easily reach out your hand and steal a quick touch, rules be damned.

    Fiona Candlin, a professor of museology at Birkbeck College in London and author of "Art, Museums, and Touch," is all too familiar with these clandestine moments. She spent years investigating the motivations behind why visitors touch exhibits without permission, what they choose to touch, and how these unauthorized touches make them feel.

    As it turns out, this type of rule-breaking is a common part of the museum-going experience. While she was observing unauthorized touching at the British Museum for a report published in The Senses and Society journal, a security guard told Candlin, "You stop a hundred people touching and there are 200 more ... It's like trying to turn back the sea."

    Closer inspection

    Museums are often seen as sober places, where visitors are expected to silently walk from gallery to gallery and contemplate art from a distance. But Simon Hayhoe, a lecturer at the University of Bath who specializes in art education and disability, suggests we often want to close that distance and interact with works more intimately.

    He links this to the original purpose of Renaissance artworks, which were hung inside churches to teach people about Bible stories. The pieces were hung in a way that created a sense of remoteness and reverence, and made the viewer feel like an outsider.

    "What the church did was put the art out of reach. They never put it close to the people so they can stand in front of it. They were designed to be seen (up) high, and so people would look at them in awe and wonder," Hayhoe explained in a phone interview.

    "So there is a sense of power there as well. There is a sense of you are not allowed anywhere near this painting, because it's imbued with God, it's imbued with power, it's imbued with something you're never going to be close to."

    According to Candlin, there are numerous reasons why museum visitors are so tempted to touch art, one of which is classic empirical investigation -- simply put, the desire to learn more.

    "If you want to find out how finely a surface has been finished, or how two bits are joined together, or how deep an engraving is, the best way to find out is by touching it," Candlin said in a phone interview.

    "You want to know how something is made, you want to know what it's made of, you want to try and get a sense of how it's put together, and so you touch for those kinds of reasons."

    Part of that inspection is to confirm authenticity. "There can be a real blur between museums and experiences and theme parks and wax works. Often if you have really big objects on display -- if you think about going into the Egyptian galleries in the British Museum or the Met. Some people can't believe you would put real things on display without glass around them. They're not quite sure and they figure if they touch it, they can make an assessment," Candlin said.

    Touching also has to do with playing with the art pieces on display -- especially when it comes to statues of animals and humans. But because these figures aren't real, museum-goers feel free to push boundaries, patting lion heads or groping naked bottoms. They're making visual jokes and performing for both themselves and the people they are with.

    In Candlin's research, she found that the British Museum's Lely Venus, a Roman statue of the goddess leaving her bath, had her behind cupped so often that the piece was put behind barriers.

    An emotional connection

    Standing in front of artwork also often evokes an emotional response. It's not just about appreciating technique, Candlin explained, but thinking of the human element behind the work and wanting to connect with the person behind the genius.

    "If something is made by a named artist, the museum goer wants to feel they have some connection with that named artist. Barbara Hepworth put her hand here and I'm now putting my hand here," Candlin said.

    "There is a sculpture by Hepworth at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (in England) where you can see her finger marks in it, and if people notice it they will often put their hand against her finger marks to give that sense of her hand and their hand meeting."

    While she doesn't go so far as to suggest people break the rules the next time they're at a museum, Candlin does believe touching is an important -- and, unfortunately for security guards, inevitable -- part of experiencing art.

    "People aren't just touching the ends of their fingers -- they're stroking things, they're holding things, they're mimicking," she continued. "You've got to see touching as part of the continuum of ways in which people physically interact with objects."

    See Original Post

  • May 20, 2019 8:43 AM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from the ArtNewspaper

    As researchers unveiled more than 200 ancient Egyptian pieces recovered from the rubble of Rio de Janeiro’s gutted National Museum during a press conference earlier this week, the museum’s director Alexander Kellner took the opportunity to address the museum’s most pressing threat: a lack of federal funding.

    Since the museum caught fire last September, researchers and students have uncovered thousands of pieces, including a prized skull from the Upper Paleolithic period that is the oldest human ever discovered in Brazil. However, the museum is now struggling to afford enough storage space to secure the artefacts it has salvaged so far.

    “We’re not going to be able to continue these cool activities you’re seeing here without help”, Kellner said after the unveiling of the ancient Egyptian artefacts. The director adds that the museum needs at least 10 storage units to secure this haul alone, but ideally it needs 40 or more.

    The museum has received several donations from international institutions and private donors since the tragic fire last September, and the Brazilian ministry of education, which administers the museum, has donated BRL2.5m reais ($600,000) to the rebuilding process. Kellner has requested that the ministry immediately gives at least BRL1m reais more so it can continue recovering objects from the collection.

    “My biggest concern is that the ministry of education understands the importance of its role in the future of the National Museum”, Kellner added during the conference.

    Last month, the Brazilian federal police revealed that the fire began from a faulty air conditioning unit in a ground-floor auditorium of the building and there were not sufficient security measures to contain the flames.

    The federally-funded museum, founded as the residence of King João VI of Portugal in 1811, had been severely underfunded for several years. The total cost of restoring the building is estimated to be around BRL100m reais ($25m), but there is no clear projection on when the museum could reopen.

    See Original Post

  • May 07, 2019 3:11 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Education Dive

    Dive Brief:

    • The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where two students were killed and four were injured in a campus shooting last week, announced plans to seek an independent external review of its response to the incident, according to The News & Observer.
    • Chancellor Philip Dubois said in a statement that the campus lockdown procedure went into effect as intended immediately after law enforcement officials were notified, and he lauded first responders for their bravery.
    • A former student has been charged in the shooting. One of the students killed, 21-year-old Riley Howell, was heralded for tackling the shooter, preventing further injuries, according to local police.

    Dive Insight:

    More than 430 people were shot in 190 shootings on college campuses between the 2001-2002 and 2015-2016 school years, with the annual rate of such incidents rising from 12 to 30 during that time, according to a 2016 report from the Citizens Crime Commission (CCC) of New York City.

    The growing frequency of gun violence on campuses has pushed colleges to change how they engage with students, staff and faculty members on the topic of campus safety. Their approach — educating the campus community on the need to "Run, Hide or Fight," and how — reflects guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on preparedness for and responses to an active shooter situation.

    Colleges are also enhancing their security systems. Those improvements include emergency phones placed throughout campus and fitted with 360-degree security cameras, multiple-platform communication systems to enable authorities to alert the campus quickly and specialized training for campus security personnel.

    Support for mental health on campus is also a critical factor. Campus security experts say institutions should create an environment in which students feel comfortable seeking mental health care as well as securely and privately reporting concerns about their peers. Additionally, mental health counselors should be trained to identify potential risk factors.

    Brett Sokolow, head of a risk-management consulting firm and founder of the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association (NaBITA), explained in a recent article that his group hopes colleges will avoid "knee-jerk responses" to these events focusing only on "services, contractors, devices, gadgets and gizmos assuring they can protect us." He noted that among his firm's clients, spending on security improvements outpaces by 25-to-1 their investment in campus mental health and behavioral intervention.

    Well-prepared behavioral intervention teams and adequately staffed mental health services are the most effective interventions, he wrote, along with a reporting system that can protect privacy, avoid profiling and accurately alert institutions to threats. NaBITA last year released detailed guidance on establishing such teams.

    See Original Post

  • May 07, 2019 3:08 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from NPR

    Historic artifacts, including a copy of the proclamation of France's approval of the Louisiana Purchase and a yearbook from Fidel Castro's high school, were rescued Tuesday night from a four-alarm fire that damaged the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in St. Louis.

    About 80 firefighters rushed in and out of the museum, housed in what was once the Third Church of Christ, Scientist, hauling out armloads of one-of-a-kind documents, manuscripts, statues and intricately carved wooden ship models, even as they battled 8-foot-high flames.

    "They knew they were in a museum," Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's like, 'Don't leave empty-handed. Grab something and get it out of here.' "

    The blaze raged for about two hours, destroying much of the second floor of the 107-year-old Greek Revival building. The ceiling caved in while at least 20 firefighters were inside. "The entire ceiling came down around and on some of these guys," Jenkerson said.

    No one was injured. 

    See Original Post

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