Tag Archives: Peabody Essex Museum

Budget ax takes forty whacks

By Bob Hicks

All right, times are tough all over. But who’d’a thunk Lizzie Borden would be getting the ax after all these years?

Lizzie Borden, ca. 1889. Wikimedia Commons.This morning’s Art Daily passes along a brief item from the Associated Press reporting that the 40 Whacks Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, is going out of business after two years: high costs, low attendance.

The museum’s existence in Salem, about 70 miles north of Fall River, where Borden was acquitted of hatcheting to death her father and stepmother in 1892, was a bit of a puzzler. But then, Salem, where Mr. Scatter briefly lived almost 40 years ago, bases a good deal of its economy on commemoration and re-creation of its past, from its witch trials to its seafaring days — so why not steal another town’s infamy?

Four or five years ago, on a visit to Massachusetts, Mr. Scatter took the Scatter family to see the house where he’d lived in old town Salem, only to discover it had been torn down to make room for the front lawn of the rebuilt Peabody Essex Museum — a very good regional museum, by the way, run by Dan Monroe, a onetime director of the Portland Art Museum. To assuage their keen disappointment, Mr. Scatter took the family to the New England Pirate Museum, where several T-shirts and a treasure map were bought.

When they saw what they had done, the Scatters cried, “The pirates won!”


PHOTO: Lizzie Borden, ca. 1889. Wikimedia Commons.

Scatter links: A beer with Henry James, a bail-in for Detroit, why NOT sell off some art?

Cool things to read in other places:

— Laura Grimes, charter member of Friends of Art Scatter, has a delightful piece in the Sunday Oregonian’s books pages about reading Henry James‘s The Ambassadors (or trying to read it) on the bus, and whether James was quite the sort of fellow you could sit down and have a beer with. Read it here.

— Also in The Oregonian, on Monday’s op-ed page, is a bell-ringer by Tim Smith on how to “bail in” the reeling auto industry instead of bailing it out. Smith, a principal at SERA Architects in Portland and a Detroit native, suggests: “(L)et’s reorganize GM to replace it. Why not fund a conversion of General Motors from a purveyor of private transportation hardware to a planner, fabricator and supplier of a renewed, nationwide public transportation system?” An elegant, provacative piece, with some historical sting. Read it here.

— And, in case you missed it in the New York Times the day before Christmas, this intriguing piece via Art Journal about the brouhaha over deaccessioning art at museums to raise bucks, a move that’s recently put New York’s cash-strapped National Academy Museum in hot-to-boiling water. Is it an idea whose time has come? Maybe so, maybe no. Author Jori Finkel talks with, among others, former Portland Art Museum director Dan Monroe, now at the Peabody Essex Museum in Masachusetts. Read it here.