A trove of photographs spanning 160 years that
includes examples of the medium's greatest hits has been donated to the
Israel Museum in Jerusalem by the New York collectors Noel and Harriette
For more than three decades the Levines have
amassed a collection of 125 works, from 19th-century images by the
British photographers William Henry Fox Talbot, David Octavius Hill and
Robert Adamson to Modern masters like Man Ray, Edward Steichen, Alfred
Stieglitz and Edward Weston and contemporary figures like Cindy Sherman
and William Wegman.
The collection is viewed by experts as important in its scope and
rarity, and most institutions can no longer afford to buy such prime
examples, given the rise in their market value.
The Levines are well known in the world of photography. A gallery at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art is named after them, and they have donated
photographs to the Met as well. Mrs. Levine is also a member of the
visiting committee to the Met's photography department.
The Levines have supported the Israel Museum since 1994, when they
presented a gift of 80 signed works by Andre Kertesz. Three years ago
they donated $12 million for the museum's photography department; their
current gift includes $1 million to endow the department. (Mrs. Levine's
sister, Patricia Gerber, added $1 million to that pot.)
Since its founding in 1965, the Israel Museum has put together an
encyclopedic photography collection, which now includes more than 55,000
"This gift, along with the endowment, positions us to be a major force
in the field," said James S. Snyder, the museum's director.
TAG IT YOURSELF
Seeking more creative ways to connect to their audiences, some museums'
Web sites have started blogs where visitors can question curators or
share their opinions of exhibitions. Now the Brooklyn Museum has invited
the public to tag, or apply electronic keywords to, objects in its
collections that are cataloged at brooklynmuseum.org.
The goal is to enable other visitors to enter specific search terms that
might not be incorporated into the museum's online catalog entries —
say, "mystical," "bug," "ugly" — and then find their way to the relevant
"Our data is very specific to information we need to know," Shelley
Bernstein, the museum's manager of information systems, said of the
museum's own entries. "But the way curators and museum professionals see
an object isn't necessarily the same as the way a student or the
general public would think to describe it."
Internet visitors who click on objects are encouraged to apply any
keyword that comes to mind, as long as it's not vulgar. The museum will
then add these tags to its database.
"It's a high-volume way of sharing our collection," Ms. Bernstein said.
To encourage public participation further, the museum invites visitors
to register online, joining what it calls its posse. Those participants
can play a game to see how many tags they can come up with, object by
object. Top taggers, as the museum calls them, will receive video
messages from museum staff members thanking them and urging them to
TEXAS SCULPTURE LOAN
With the help of the Met, the 360-acre main campus at the University of
Texas, Austin, is poised to become a destination for modern sculpture.
Rather than let them languish in storage, the museum is lending the
university 28 pieces by artists like Beverly Pepper, Tony Smith and
They will remain there on long-term loan, where the public will have a
chance to see them, and they will also be used by students for
"It was a happy coincidence," said Gary Tinterow, the Met's curator of
19th-century, Modern and contemporary art. "We had identified a number
of sculptures that were not likely to be placed here and at the same
time had learned that the University of Texas was pursuing a sculpture
Mr. Tinterow said many of the works had been acquired in the first few
years after the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing for Modern art opened in 1987.
A space in that wing was originally used exclusively as a sculpture
court, but it was transformed into a gallery for both paintings and
sculpture in 1993 after it was renamed the Blanche and A. L. Levine
Court, after two donors. The sculptures were also acquired with the
Met's roof in mind, but that exhibition space has also changed. Rather
than showing works from its collection there, the Met uses it for annual
single-artist installations, like this summer's Jeff Koons exhibition.
The University of Texas has opened a three-part public-art initiative.
"We realized that the campus could benefit from a public-art program,"
said Andrée Bober, the founding director of that program.
Apart from the Met's loan, the university has created an acquisitions
fund for buying and commissioning works for public spaces throughout the
campus. As the university undergoes considerable construction and
renovation, it has adopted a percent-for-art policy whereby 1 to 2
percent of the budgets for those building projects go toward
acquisitions of art.
The Met's sculptures will be installed in two stages. In the first phase
17 sculptures will be placed outdoors and in campus buildings, starting
this month. An additional 11 will be installed in the Bass Concert Hall
in January after its renovation is completed.
The university is paying for the installation, shipping and insurance;
the Met is not charging a loan fee. The loan agreement is renewable in
In other long-term loans of works from the Met's storage areas, 15
pieces of armor — swords, helmets, gauntlets— are currently at the
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and 212 casts, primarily Greek and Roman,
are at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta.
By Carol Vogel
For The New York Times