Tuesday, July 13, 2004

2 Columbus Circle: In Style

Preservationists in Style, Museums in the Doghouse

Some of you may have caught the New York Times' coverage of the June 29 cocktail party and auction to benefit the Save 2 Columbus Circle Fund . This swank affair, which raised over $50,000 to support our ongoing campaign to preserve Edward Durell Stone's unique 1964 building, inspired three separate features in the July 4edition. Between Anemona Hartocollis's "tongue-in-chic" piece, "Preservationist Chic: What Would Tom Wolfe Do?," which captured the front page of the City Section, to Bill Cunningham's photographs of party-goersin the Sunday Styles section, we were covered from head to toe.

Meanwhile, we continue to build a roster of names - the Silent Majority - of people who support a public hearing before the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. ***If you believe that 2 Columbus Circle deserves at least a hearing to decide whether it merits protection as an official NYC Landmark, simply reply "YES!" to this e-mail.*** We will publish the names soon but, for now, trust us when we say that you'll be in excellent company. (If you would like a copy of the list in formation, please let us know!)

But enough of the boldface spin. Michael Kimmelman's July 11 Times article, "New York's Bizarre Museum Moment," is required reading for anyone who cares about the future of 2 Columbus Circle, or indeed our city's cultural institutions.If you missed it, it is still available here.

Kimmelman's chilling indictment of NYC museums and their "identity crises" suggests a diagnosis for the malady afflicting the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD),the would-be occupant of 2 Columbus Circle,driving them to eradicate rather than restore an irreplaceable work of mid-century Modernism. According to Kimmelman, "many of the most important museums in New York...are grappling with identity, and some of them have clearly begun to lose track of their priorities," heedlessly disposing of valuable artworks and using fashionable architects du jour to expand their buildings. Museums, he writes, "still set standards of aesthetic quality... To do so, however they must attend to one profound obligation: to cherish and preserve culture for posterity."

Both MAD and the Landmarks Commission fall short by Kimmelman's way of reckoning, and ours. What about Mayor Bloomberg?

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