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INSTITUTION BUILDING. Much remains uncertain about the planned Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum, like its eventual location in Washington, D.C., but fundraising is progressing, Zachary Small reports in the New York Times. The 14-employee institution just announced north of $55 million in gifts, including $10 million from the foundation of Walmart heiress and ARTnews Top 200 Collector Alice Walton, who knows about starting a museum, as the founder of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Other donors include fashion designer Tory Burch and lawyers Mary and David Boies. While any potential opening date for the new museum is a long way off, the National Museum of Women in the Arts is slated to reopen in D.C., after a major renovation, in October.
CULTURAL TREASURES. Archaeologists at Ek’ Balam, a Mayan site on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico that was active between 600 and 850, found a wall relief that may show a female ruler grasping the hair of a male warrior, the Associated Press reports. “It’s an interesting find,” one scholar said. “We already know of several queens who were powerful military figures, from places further south.” Meanwhile, Australia returned to Mexico two objects that border officials confiscated after “questions were raised about their origins,” ABC News (of Australia) reports. One of the items is a copper bowl believed to have been made by a Mixtec artisan some 800 years ago. Mexico’s ambassador to the country termed efforts to preserve such material “like a love letter to the past, a message of hope to the present, and a promise for the future.”
Sotheby’s said that it will expand its office in Shanghai this year. “We see tremendous potential in the mainland,” managing director of Sotheby’s Asia, Nathan Drahi (whose father is the auction house’s billionaire owner, Patrick Drahi), told Krystal Chia. [Bloomberg]
The Dutch-born photographer Ans Westra, whose images of Māori life in New Zealand led to both acclaim and controversy, died on Sunday at the age of 86. The nation’s deputy prime minister said that Westra “gave life to our stories and history.” [Ocula]
Bottega Veneta’s runway show at Milan Fashion Week featured choice sculptures on loan from Italian institutions: Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913), via the National Gallery of Cosenza, and The Runners (1st-century B.C.E.), via the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. [Dazed and The New York Times]
The estate of the Japanese American painter Ralph Iwamoto (1927–2013) is now repped by New York’s Hollis Taggart gallery, which will open a solo show of his work next month. Born in Honolulu, Iwamoto studied at the Art Students League in Manhattan and pursued a Surrealist style before making striking geometric abstractions. [The Art Newspaper]
Bloomberg’s James Tarmy had violinist Charles Yang play the 1731 Guarneri del Gesù violin known as the “Baltic,” which will be offered at auction by Tarisio next month with an estimate of $10 million. In the resulting video, it sounds quite handsome. [Bloomberg]
Curator Ruba Katrib discussed the scintillating Frieda Toranzo Jaeger exhibition that she has organized at MoMA PS1. “Artists use shaped canvases,” she said, “but I think she’s really taking it to another level playing with the idea of sculpture, painting and craft by stitching or using fabric or other materials.” [i-D]
THIS IS HARDCORE. A frantic effort is underway to find a way to preserveRon’s Place, the residence in Birkenhead, England, that the late artist Ron Gittins spent decades decorating in high style, the Guardian reports. While its admirers had hoped to lease the place for a year, it has since been listed for auction. Those fans include Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker , who told the outlet. “With environments like these, you get a complete work of art that somebody is living in and that they’ve established the rules. It’s like a personal universe.” The auction has been scheduled for Wednesday. [The Guardian]