Arts and Humanities Local News

Speed Museum Takes Capital Campaign Public

The public phase of the Speed Art Museum’s capital campaign has begun.

The five-year campaign to pay for a second museum building began silently in 2007. Since then, the Speed has raised $42.5 million, which is on track with the campaign schedule.

Much of the current sum was raised through large donations. But now the museum is seeking money from the general public.

“There are going to be many fewer individuals in that very large pool who would have the resources to make a million-dollar gift, but we certainly have some individuals who will we ask for donations at those kind of high levels,” says Speed director Charles Venable. “But this is the part of a campaign where you really want everyone to participate.”

The Speed needs $7.5 million to finance the second building. Venable says the recession—which began shortly after the campaign began—was a concern, but the economy has been helpful so far; it’s driven construction costs down enough to shave several million dollars off the cost of building the new facility and thereby lowered the campaign goal.

“It may very well be that we’re able to go even a little beyond our goal and start doing some of the renovation we’ve announced that we want to do to the original building. I think we’ll play that by ear,” says Venable.

A groundbreaking for the new building is scheduled for next fall.

The second phase of the fundraising campaign will bring the total to $79 million and pay for other expansions and improvements. That’s expected to take several years.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Speed to Return Stolen Art to Italy

From the U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New YorkA piece of stolen artwork that’s been at the Speed Museum in Louisville for years will be returned to Italy.

The 14th century triptych painting of the Virgin Mary with Child was among several pieces of art stolen from an Italian estate forty years ago. The Speed purchased the piece from a New York gallery in 1973 for $38,000.

Now, through an agreement with the federal government, the Speed will relinquish the painting to Italian officials, who will determine the art’s rightful owner.

But before that happens, the piece will be on display in Louisville.

“We are working with the U.S. government to exhibit the work of art in June,” says Speed director Charles Venable. “We’re going to have it for a couple of weeks on view and contextualize it with information about what we’ve been doing and the research we’ve worked with the U.S. government and Italians on over the last couple of months.”

Court records show that Speed officials did not have any reason to think the painting was stolen when it was purchased. Further, the records show the museum cooperated with investigators and the courts, and the agreement to give up the piece is not an admission of any wrongdoing.

It’s not yet known whether the Speed will receive a refund for the art.

“We are in negotiations with the gallery that sold it originally to the Speed, and those are ongoing, so I really can’t comment on that. But it certainly is a possibility,” says Venable.

Here and Now Local News WFPL News Department Podcast

Italian Curator Dr. Sergio Guarino Discusses Caravaggio

The Speed Museum opens an exhibition this week featuring Caravaggio’s The Fortune Teller as well as works of other artists he’s influenced.

On Here and Now, Todd Mundt talked to curator Dr. Sergio Guarino of the Capitoline Museums in Rome about the artist, the painting, and bringing the canvas to Kentucky.

Audio MP3
Here and Now Local News

Tuesday Here and Now: Arnold, the Legacy of Malcolm X, Sebastian Junger, Caravaggio

Quite a palate for 1pm today: The LA Times reports today that Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his wife, Maria Shriver, separated after she learned that he had fathered a child more than a decade ago with a member of their household staff. The newspaper has been in the hot seat before for its coverage of Schwarzenegger. We’ll speak with John S. Carroll, former editor of the Los Angeles Times.

Sebastian Junger was supposed to be in Libya, covering the conflict there with photojournalist Tim Hetherington last month, but a personal matter kept him home. Hetherington and another photographer, Chris Hondros, were killed in a battle in Misrata. The two worked together on the documentary Restrepo. Junger is on the show today to talk about it.

We’ll debate the legacy of Malcolm X in light of new revelations.

And there’s a new exhibit at the Speed Museum featuring a work by the Italian master Caravaggio.

Oh, and… the cultural phenomenon of “Go the F— to Sleep.”

Arts and Humanities Local News

Burnside Says Reaction to Fund for the Arts Letter Has Been Surprising

One of the authors of a letter that led to a storm of protests against the Fund for the Arts says she’s surprised by the reaction.

Frazier History Museum Executive Director Madeleine Burnside, Speed Museum Director Charles Venable and Visual Art Association Director Shannon Westerman wrote a letter to Business First pointing out that visual arts organizations receive little to no money from the fund.

“That was the whole point,” says Burnside. “Really, the reaction I’m most surprised about, because, I don’t think if you read the letter, it said anything engative about either the fund or about Allan. So the reaction I’m really surprised about is that Allan took it so personally.”

After the letter was published, fund CEO Allan Cowen allegedly threatened Westerman’s job in a voicemail. That prompted a number of members of the visual arts community to call for Cowen’s dismissal. When the board disciplined the CEO instead, a protest was held outside of the fund’s offices.

Burnside says she doesn’t have an opinion on the protests.

“I personally have only had pleasant and positive dealings with Allan. It was never about him until he took it so personally,” she says.

Burnside says her concern is with how the fund distributes money. She says the organization should distribute it evenly among performing, visual and other types of arts and the fact that the fund more heavily supports performing arts should be widely known

The Frazier does not receive money from the Fund for the Arts. The Visual Art Association does.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Speed Museum to Review Collection, Sell Some Pieces

Louisville Speed Art Museum officials have launched the first comprehensive review of the Museum’s 14,000 piece collection in 83 years.

It’s part of several initiatives aimed at improving the collection and better engaging visitors.

Other initiatives include expanding the museum and building a new north building with gallery, performance and event spaces as well as a piazza and outdoor art park. Renovations on the first phase which include a new driveway begin in May.

The museum will also continue its programming including the Speed Concert Series and Art Sparks which is an interactive education center.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Thornton’s Inc. Gives One Million Dollars To Speed Art Museum

by Sheila Ash

The Speed Art Museum as received a one million dollar donation from Louisville-based Thornton’s Inc.

The money will go toward the Speed’s $50 million capital campaign. Museum Director Charles Venable says the funds will be used to renovate and expand the museum.

“In the new space there’ll be a much more functional auditorium that can also be used for other things than just amphitheater style seating,” he says. “There’ll be new shop, new restaurants, whole new floor for contemporary art, new temporary exhibition space.”

Construction will begin next May on the first phase of renovations, which will include a new driveway and water retention system. Fundraising will continue, but Venable declined to say how much money has been raised so far.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Museum Holds Public Forum on Expansion Plans

The Speed Art Museum in the early stages of planning a major expansion, and Saturday at 10 a.m. it’s holding a public forum to share some of its ideas. The forum will be the second since the museum announced the project’s main designer — the Los Angeles-based wHY Architecture. Last October, it announced that Reed Hilderbrand Associates of Massachusetts would design the landscape.

Museum director Charles Venable says there will be some sketches of renovated spaces they’ve envisioned.

“This is the first time anybody, for example, will get to see a sneak preview of what the landscape might look like,” he says. “We’ll be talking about the site that abuts the University of Louisville and the new sculpture park we’re putting in, as well as a new public piazza and the entire surroundings of the building.”

Venable says the museum has begun raising money for a $50 million-dollar campaign for the renovation

Venable says the expansion is really part of a larger project.

“We’re really now talking about a master plan that will be executed between now and let’s say 10 years now, he says, “and the  big components of that that will guide the museum’s expanse through time.”

Venable says the architects have already incorporated many ideas from U of L students into preliminary designs.

“Hearing some of the students talk about, well, they would love to see more glass. If there’s an event going on, you want to see life and people inside that building,” he says. “And they said, well you know, if we have a place to sit, if we had Wi-Fi accessibility, there would be a reason for us to stay and linger more.”

Venable says the museum plans to break ground on the expansion next year.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Museum Chooses Eight Firms as Finalists for Expansion Design

The Speed Art Museum has selected eight architectural firms as finalists to design an expansion of its home. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The list* includes firms from Chicago, New York, Copenhagen, Oslo and Tokyo. The museum will charge one of them with designing an addition containing exhibition space and room for educational activities.

By early next year, the museum will choose the finalist, who will have to get to know Louisville, says the Speed Museum’s director Charles Venable.

“Before we ask them to draw one line on a piece of paper, we really want them to come to Louisville and spend a lot of time, talking to us about the city, about the site, about this community, about the dreams and aspirations of this institution — and also what makes the perfect visitor experience of a museum,” Venable says.

He says the finalists were chosen because of their experiences on similar projects.

“We very much wanted architects who were capable of some how combining a new bit of architecture to an old piece of architecture, taking a series of older buildings and doing something new and interesting, but not needing to have a blank slate, because we don’t have a blank slate,” he says.

Venable says the addition should be built by 2012.


Bernard Tschumi Architects with offices in New York and Paris. Noted recent project is the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece.

Bjarke Ingels Group in Copenhagen, Denmark. Noted current project is the Helsingor Maritime Museum in Denmark, which will transform an old dry dock into a modern-day museum. 

Gluckman Mayner Architects of New York. Noted for its transformation of many older museum buildings into modern spaces and the Mori Arts Center in Tokyo with its distinct use of glass creating transparency. 

Henning Larsen Architects from Copenhagen, Denmark.  Noted for its addition to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum and the new Opera in Copenhagen, considered one of the most modern opera houses in the world.

SANAA whose office is in Tokyo. Noted for its use of structural glass in the recent expansion at the Toledo Museum of Art and its design for the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. 

Snøhetta AS with offices in New York and Oslo, Norway. Noted for its design for the new Oslo Opera House that marries the look of one of Norway’s icebergs and the rich tradition of timber interiors. 

Studio Gang Architects from Chicago and Brooklyn. Noted for the curvaceous high-rise known as “Aqua” and the SOS Children’s Village in Chicago, which combines form and function for an economy of space.

wHY Architecture in Los Angeles. Noted for the new Grand Rapids Art Museum in Michigan, which is the only museum in the world to be awarded a LEED Gold certification for its “Green” environmental impact and architectural elegance.