Museum Confidential: The Podcast
A Twice-Monthly Podcast
Think of a museum. Any museum. Which art works get to be displayed, and which don't, and why? Where do they keep all the unshown (or unshowable) pieces? And why do they keep them at all? And just how does one pack/ship/transport a priceless painting or sculpture? Museum Confidential is a new and unprecedented exhibition at Philbrook Museum of Art that explores such questions. The show opens on October 13th, which is also when Museum Confidential: The Podcast will arrive. It's a collaboration (to be posted twice monthly) between Jeff Martin of Philbrook and Scott Gregory of Public Radio Tulsa -- and it'll cover the same fertile ground as the exhibit itself...as in, what really goes on "behind the scenes" at a museum? (Note that this podcast will be accessible at both the Philbrook website and publicradiotulsa.org.)
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST:
Part 1: Big Boss Man
Part 2: The Price of Fine Art
Explore a different side of legendary actor Vincent Price for our special Halloween episode with Philbrook curator, Christina E. Burke. Guest starring Michael Jackson, Johnny Carson, and Jack Nicholson.
Part 3: Ask the Experts
An in-depth chat with Hrag Vartanian and Sharon Louden, two of the most prominent thought leaders in the art world today. Topics range from early museum experiences to a one-way trip to Mars.
Part 4: The Art of the Playlist
An extended go-round of our podcast...wherein Jeff Martin and Scott Gregory spin and discuss tunes on the subject of Art/Artists/Museums/Galleries/Creativity/Identity/Inspiration/Nostalgia/Life/Etc.
Part 5: Drawing Conclusions
Our first in-depth artist chat, with acclaimed photorealist, Karl Haendel. Topics range from the best types of pencils and football to Dutch artist M.C. Escher and politics. See Haendel's work in the current Philbrook Downtown show, "Game On."
Part 6: Everybody's a Critic
Movies and museums. Museums and movies. They go together like popcorn and Milk Duds. On this installment of our podcast, we speak with Charles Elmore of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle. Topics include memorable motion pictures of 2017, what makes a film an "art film," how today's so-called Golden Age of Television relates to (or doesn't relate to) today's films and filmmakers, and so forth.
Part 7: The Forgotten Man
Arguably at the height of his career with work in Vanity Fair and Vogue, regularly shooting the likes of Jesse Owens, Gary Cooper, and Katharine Hepburn, photographer Lusha Nelson died in 1938 at the age of 30. His personal archive remained lost until 2015 when it was rediscovered by Philbrook. Hear the amazing true story.
Part 8: Poetic License: Inside MoMA
We explore the bookish side of museum-going in a revealing conversation with poet Kenneth Goldsmith, who in 2013 was the first and only Poet Laureate at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
Part 9: Best of the West
Gilcrease Museum houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West. This episode features a discussion with Gilcrease Senior Curator Laura Fry and special appearances by Neil Young and Henry Kissinger.
Part 10: The Thing Called Love
For our special Valentine’s Day episode we explore many different kinds of love, from the boomtown couple that founded Philbrook to the supposed foot fetishism of an iconic French artist. Keep an ear out for a brief cameo by Marie Antoinette.
Part 11:The Right to Fail: Getting to Know The Museum of Bad Art
What are we saying when we refer to a piece as "bad" art? All of us probably have guilty pleasures, or maybe a favorite mistake or two, but what does it mean to seek out and really cherish certain works of bad art? This episode of our podcast features a conversation with Louise Sacco, the so-called Permanent Acting Interim Executive Director of MOBA (a/k/a The Museum of Bad Art).
Part 12: In The Beginning...
On this episode we take an in-depth look at the very first Director of Philbrook, Eugene Kingman. An acclaimed artist in his own right, Kingman’s journey included stops at Yale, The Rhode Island School of Design, the offices of The New York Times, and the organization that would become the C.I.A. We chat with Mark Brown, longtime journalist and current assistant to the current Philbrook Director.
Part 13: Experimental Philosopher
Let’s be honest, conceptual art is polarizing. Sometimes intentionally so. We explore this and more in a wide-ranging and fascinating chat with self-proclaimed Experimental Philosopher, Jonathon Keats. From his early childhood days selling rocks for a penny to large-scale thought experiments commissioned by prestigious institutions, his career is nothing if not unique. As described in the pages of WIRED magazine by science fiction author Bruce Sterling, “the guy is tireless.”
Part 14: Art Church: The Rothko Chapel
The Rothko Chapel, established in 1971 in Houston, is both a sacred space and a modern art mainstay. Dedicated to non-denominational prayer and private contemplation -- and also to international peace and fellowship -- the building routinely hosts lectures, concerts, interfaith gatherings, and similar events. And at its heart, of course, are fourteen very dark, luminous, large-scale paintings by the late Mark Rothko. We speak with David Leslie, the executive director of the Rothko Chapel.
Part 15: Museum Mail Bag
In this Season One finale, we try our hand at a podcast classic: the tried-and-true "mail bag" episode. We invited social media followers to "ask us anything" about Philbrook and/or museums in general. We then gathered a panel of experts to provide answers, or at least attempt such. Results vary. Comedy ensues. Interesting stuff as well.... See you this fall for Season Two!
Part 2.1: The Bob Dylan Un-Museum
In our Season Two opener, we chat with the Bob Dylan Archive curator, Michael Chaiken, about how they’re trying NOT to make a museum with the forthcoming Bob Dylan Center. We also talk about Chaiken's path to landing the curator position, about music and movies and more, and also, of course, about Mr. Zimmerman himself.
Part 2.2: This Old House (Museum)
This episode offers a chat with Alexis Light, the Senior Manager of Media Relations and Marketing at The Frick Collection. She is that NYC museum's thought leader when it comes to public relations, marketing, and social media content. Also in this pod, we begin an occasional feature called "At a Museum in America." Our far-flung, gallery-going correspondent for this new feature is one Preston Poe, an independent curator, artist, and songwriter who also hosts "The Preston Poe Show" (which you can access at prestonpoe.com).
Part 2.3: The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia
Museums aren't always meant to be enjoyable experiences. That doesn't mean they are not important and essential. On this episode, we sit down with Dr. David Pilgrim, founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Michigan. The museum was born out of his personal collection, one that began decades ago, when Dr. Pilgrim was growing up in Alabama. Our podcast also profiles a recent art project utilizing the Confederate flag.
Part 2.4: Two Scoops: The Museum of Ice Cream and The New York Times
We all scream. The Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC) is attempting to blaze a trail in the museum world. But sometimes that's a rocky road. First up, we chat with Madison Utendahl, MOIC's Head of Content and Social. And then, and for an entirely different take on the emergence of "Instagrammable" or "Pop-Up" museums, we call up Amanda Hess, Critic-at-Large at The New York Times.
Part 2.5: The Afterlife of Edward Gorey
For our Halloween episode, we encounter the macabre with critic and writer Mark Dery, author of the new biography, Born to be Posthumous: The Eccentric Genius and Mysterious Life of Edward Gorey. Often called the “Grandfather of Goth,” Gorey (who died in 2000) influenced Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snicket, and countless others.
Part 2.6: John Waters on "Indecent Exposure"
Legendary filmmaker and so-called "Pope of Trash" John Waters has a brand new project in his beloved hometown. On view through January 6, 2019, at the Baltimore Museum of Art, "Indecent Exposure" is the first retrospective of Waters' visual arts career, featuring more than 160 provocative photographs, sculptures, and video/sound works. We sat down to chat with him about the show, the 30th anniversary of "Hairspray," and a few other things. (For more information about the exhibit, visit artbma.org.)
Part 2.7: The World-Famous Crochet Museum
On this installment of Museum Confidential, we visit California's High Desert with our roving correspondent, Preston Poe (of The Preston Poe Show podcast). As we often say, there are many kinds of museums. One of them is a tiny, refurbished photo-processing booth in Joshua Tree, which is now dedicated entirely to crochet. The museum's founder, as you'll hear, knows how to spin a yarn or two. And rightly so.
Part 2.8: "Ninth Street Women"
Pulitzer Prize Finalist Mary Gabriel joins us to talk about her acclaimed new book, "Ninth Street Women." After WWII, when names like Pollock and Rothko were entering the American mainstream, five women dared to enter the male-dominated modern-art scene -- not as muses, but as artists. From their New York studios, where they worked, drank, fought, and loved, these women kicked open doors for themselves and everyone who came after. On this episode, we meet Lee, Grace, Helen, Joan, and Elaine.
Part 2.9:The Grand Vienna Museum: On Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf
Years ago, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria, began inviting artists to sift through its 4 million or so objects and then create exhibitions filtered through each artist's unique point of view. Recently, the museum asked filmmaker Wes Anderson and his partner Juman Malouf to jointly take on this gargantuan task. We speak with the Kunsthistorisches Museum's curator, Jasper Sharp, to learn how the Anderson-Malouf show (which closes in April of 2019) was dreamed up, put together, and more.
Part 2.10: The Underground Museum
Close your eyes. Imagine a museum. Chances are, we're all seeing variations on the same theme. Open galleries, high ceilings, a guard standing in the corner wearing a blazer. These are stereotypes, of course, but you see the point here. Museums DON'T have to be quite so stereotypical. One place that's trying to change how we interact with museum spaces is The Underground Museum in Los Angeles. We recently sat down with that museum's director, Megan Steinman.
Part 2.11: The Savior
Art conservation. It's sort of a magic trick. But when you look closer, you find immensely talented people using skills and techniques passed down over generations alongside cutting-edge technology. On this episode of Museum Confidential, we chat with Julian Baumgartner of Chicago-based Baumgartner Fine Art Restoration. He's taken his family business into the 21st century by embracing new media...and has become a bit of a social media star in the process.
Part 2.12: Paintings for the Future
For the #1 slot on his list of Top 10 Best Art Shows of 2018, New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz selected an exhibition at the Guggenheim by Swedish artist Hilma af Klint titled "Paintings for the Future." He wrote, "The most magnificent sight in New York this year was the drop-dead first gallery showing of kaleidoscopically colored, structurally complex, completely abstract paintings made in the first two decades of the 20th century by [this] unacknowledged Swedish visionary...." Since opening last October, the show has become something of an art world sensation. We check in with the show's curator, Tracey Bashkoff. (Note: "Paintings for the Future" closes April 23, 2019.)
Part 2.13: Glenstone: A Labor of Love
Less than 20 miles from Washington, DC, there's a place called Glenstone. It was founded by Mitch and Emily Rales and opened in 2006. Last fall, Glenstone took a big leap forward. But what, exactly, is Glenstone? It's an art museum, with 200+ acres of grounds. It's private. It's free. Kids and chewing gum aren't allowed, nor are taking pictures or using cell phones. What is Glenstone, as a museum, trying to do? Emily Rales, who also serves as director and chief curator of Glenstone, tells us all about it.
Part 2.14: Ask the Experts 2.0
Time once again for our annual round-table with three experts from different facets of the art world. The roster includes Hrag Vartanian, editor of the popular arts and culture website, Hyperallergic; Philbrook Director Scott Stulen; and artist Sharon Louden, who is currently putting the finishing touches on her brand-new installation in the Philbrook Rotunda. Louden's installation will be on view for the rest of 2019.
Part 2.15: Museum Storage Wars
Museums have a problem. Too much stuff. But whereas you might take a few carloads of personal surplus to Goodwill, or maybe just set up a yard sale, museums don't have that luxury. Sometimes they end up building costly expansions just to contain the overflow. New York Times reporter Robin Pogrebin visited museums of various budgets and sizes to see just how big a problem museum storage has become. She's our guest.
Part 2.16: Confronting An Ugly Past
We recently stumbled upon a fascinating blog post written last year by Graham Boettcher, Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham, Alabama. The headline of the post reads, "DIRECTOR RECKONS WITH ART MUSEUM'S UGLY PAST." Boettcher's piece looks at the museum's troubling Jim Crow-era policies, which occurred in the first dozen years of its existence. We recently spoke with Boettcher about this, and much more.
Part 2.17: What is a Curator?
In our first show recorded before a "live" audience, we explore what it means to be a curator with Philbrook Museum of Art Chief Curator Catherine Whitney and Gilcrease Museum Senior Curator Laura Fry. The word is used all the time of late, but your grandmother probably went her whole life without claiming to have "curated" anything. And while so many people today claim to curate this or that, the ones who truly own the title are, of course, actual curators. Featuring cameos by comedian Pete Holmes, "exit" signs, and the National Mustard Museum.
Part 2.18: Every Picture Tells a Story
There are countless examples of writers using paintings or other visual art as inspiration to create entirely new work. Think "Girl with a Pearl Earring," "The Da Vinci Code," or even "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats. This is what the award-winning writer Donna Baier Stein did when she decided to write a new collection of short stories based on lithographs by iconic American artist Thomas Hart Benton. The issues that Benton dealt with and depicted throughout the Great Depression and afterward still resonate today. We recently sat down with Stein to talk about her book -- titled "Scenes from the Heartland" -- and about the certain Benton piece that initiated the whole project.
Part 2.19: Live from New Orleads: Don Wildman
For our Season 2 finale, Museum Confidential headed down to the Big Easy for a live show to kick off the annual conference of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). We set up shop inside the beautiful and mouth-watering Southern Food and Beverage Museum for a chat with Don Wildman, host of the long-running Travel Channel show, "Mysteries at the Museum."
A Museum Confidential Summer Special: Jason Lee
For our 2019 Summer Special, we chat at length with the photographer, actor, and legendary skateboarder, Jason Lee. He spent a good portion of 2018 road-tripping throughout Oklahoma while taking photographs (film only; no digital) for his first-ever solo museum show. That show is on view here in Tulsa at Philbrook Downtown through November 10th.
Part 3.1: Getting "High" with Killer Mike
During our summer break, we headed down to Atlanta to interview the hip-hop artist and activist, Killer Mike. He's known widely for his work with Run The Jewels, but this trip was to talk about museums. Specifically, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art. A little over a year ago, Mike became a board member at The High. We wanted to check in and see how it's going. We also welcome High Museum Director Rand Suffolk. (Recorded at the studios of Atlanta public radio station WABE.)
Part 3.2: Go Forward, Move Ahead
Spoiler: Adam Lerner isn’t your average museum director. For the past 10 years, he ran the show at MCA Denver. His impact on that institution, on the Mile High City, and in many ways, on the museum industry itself, is undeniable. Adam recently stepped down to explore new adventures. Before he left, we were asked to come and do an exit interview of sorts. This is our conversation, recorded live in Denver.
Part 3.3: Dr. Seuss: Lost and Found
In 2013, while looking through a forgotten box of materials, Dr. Seuss’ widow, Audrey Geisel, discovered a folder containing a collection of sketches for a project called “The Horse Museum.” It was only about 80% finished and contained no completed artwork. Editors at Random House set out to complete the book and hired Australian illustrator Andrew Joyner to provide the art. A true love letter to museums and a wonderful primer on art history, “Dr. Seuss’ Horse Museum” was released just a few weeks ago. On this episode of MC, we speak with Andrew Joyner from his smalltown home in southern Australia.
Part 3.4: Springsteen’s Stuff
Bruce Springsteen just turned 70. But The Boss shows no signs of slowing down. In his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, there’s a new exhibition at the Monmouth County Historical Association. It’s called, quite simply, SPRINGSTEEN: HIS HOMETOWN. On this episode, we're talking all things Bruce with Eileen Chapman, Director of The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University.
Part 3.5: Building Stories
Sometimes a place becomes a museum by accident. This takes a combination of history, people, luck, notoriety, and (of course) art. One of the best examples of this rare occurrence is the legendary Chelsea Hotel in New York City. Acclaimed author Fiona Davis writes novels about famous New York buildings. She recently wrote one about the Chelsea Hotel, so we checked in with her to talk about it.
Part 3.6: Edward Hopper Was Here
The name "Edward Hopper" is almost synonymous with loneliness. Hotels and motels play a central role in Hopper’s art. EDWARD HOPPER AND THE AMERICAN HOTEL recently opened at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. It's the first in-depth look at this side of Hopper’s work and features a recreated room based on Hopper’s “Western Motel.” The space serves as a fully functional hotel room. On this episode of MC, we chat with the show’s curator, Dr. Leo Mazow.
Part 3.7: All About That ($14.5 Million) Vase
Museums acquire. They keep. They care for their objects. And it always causes a bit of a stir when a museum decides to sell something from its collection. In May of 2018, at Christie’s in Hong Kong, an 18th-century Chinese vase owned by Philbrook Museum of Art sold for $14.5 million. On this episode, we chat with Philbrook Director Scott Stulen to learn the full story behind this potentially controversial decision.
Part 3.8: Frank Loyd Wright Revisited
2019 marks the 60th anniversary (October 1959) of New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The Guggenheim was the final and perhaps crowning achievement of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. This year is also the 60th anniversary of Wright’s death (April 1959). All these decades later, the legendary architect remains a complicated figure. On this episode, we sit down with acclaimed author and longtime Washington Post reporter Paul Hendrickson to chat about his polarizing, somewhat kaleidoscopic new biography of Wright. The book is called "Plagued by Fire."
Part 3.9: Colleen Dilenschneider
One name keeps popping up as one of the most important younger voices on the future of museums. That name is Colleen Dilenschneider. Through short videos, presentations, and data driven articles at her website, Colleen consistently boils down industry studies and presents them in a digestible, reliably optimistic way. Think of a museum-focused Malcolm Gladwell...who's a giddy millennial. On this episode of MC, we chat with Colleen about that future she’s always talking about.
SPECIAL REPORT: #MuseumMeToo
In a special report, we speak with New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Zachary Small about their bombshell investigation into 31-year-old (now former) Erie Art Museum Director, Joshua Helmer, and his related sexual harassment scandals at that institution and at his previous job: the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Episode 3.10: Museums Get Organized
There’s a bit of a trend happening in the museum world. Museums are unionizing. And while this trend is somewhat isolated to New York and California, it’s a development that can’t be ignored. One of the museums to recently organize is the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. On this episode we chat with Andres Puerta, Director of Special Projects for IUOE Local 30.
Part 3.11: Year of the Woman
The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving American women the right to vote. Last fall, the Baltimore Museum of Art announced a bold initiative, which was inspired by the fact that only 4% of the museum's 95,000 artworks have been created by women. Throughout this year, every artwork the museum purchases will have been created by a woman artist. On this episode, we travel to Baltimore for a chat with BMA Director, Christopher Bedford.
Part 3.12: Metropolitan Stories
This year marks the 150th anniversary of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Christine Coulson worked at The Met for a quarter of a century in a variety of roles. She left a couple of years ago to write full time, and the result is her acclaimed debut novel, “Metropolitan Stories.” On this episode of MC, we chat with Coulson about the real stories behind her fictional world.
Part 3.13: The Scientific Method
Art museums actually account for less than 5% of all American museums. More than half of our museums fall into the history category. And while science and technology museums barely make up 1% of the overall industry, they host millions of annual visitors. On this episode of MC, we travel to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas to look at the why and how of these museums.
Part 4.1: Introduction to the Greenwood Art Project
A new season of Museum Confidential begins in partnership with the Greenwood Art Project, an initiative of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. To get a broader view of the project host Jeff Martin chats with anthropologist/archivist Marlon Hall who handles the project’s unique use of social media, Kode Ransom who runs the GAP mobile outreach efforts, and Program Director, Jerica Wortham. Jerica will serve as Co-Host on several MC episodes this season.
Part 4.2: The Godfather of Cool
2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the classic crime film SHAFT, directed Gordon Parks. Parks was a filmmaker, writer, musician, and one of the 20th century’s great photographers. A recent piece in the New York Times called him, “The Godfather of Cool.” Not bad for the youngest of 15 children from Fort Scott, Kansas. Fort Scott is now home to the Gordon Parks Museum. On this episode we catch up with the Museum’s Director, Kirk Sharp.
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