Dead heat - Page 2

Old is new again as conservatism defines museums' summer survival strategies
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Tut Tut!

The de Young take was reportedly bumped up by brisk sales of pricey pint-size Chihuly sculptures. And due to the practice of sometimes booking shows years in advance, these offerings were in place before the downturn. How are they faring?

The de Young won't release attendance figures until a show has closed — in the case of Tut, that means after March 28, 2010. A museum publicist could offer a cagey comment that "response from visitors has been phenomenal." (This despite the steep nonmember ticket price of $27.50.) SFMOMA is more forthcoming. It unofficially stated that Adams/O'Keefe held steady but admissions spiked when Avedon opened, almost recalling Kahlo crowds. (These exhibitions have a $5 surcharge.)

The Avedon show is handsome, with images of the famous in crisp black and white. So many of the subjects, though, are emphatically of another era — iconic celebrities and political figures who have passed. Janis Joplin, Marilyn Monroe, César Chávez, and various Kennedys, among others, are figures that continue to embody their cultural power in Avedon's pictures. And Tut more than maintains his royal allure — gold holds its value. But finance gurus also tout making more unusual investments in times like these, and one hopes that our institutions will use this moment to engage in some portfolio diversification. *

CHAGALL AND THE ARTISTS OF THE RUSSIAN JEWISH THEATER, 1919-1949

Through Sept. 7

Contemporary jewish Museum

www.thecjm.org

GEORGIA O'KEEFE AND ANSEL ADAMS: NATURAL AFFINITIES

Through Sept. 7

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

www.sfmoma.org

TUTANKHAMUN AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE PHAROAHS

Through March 28, 2010

De Young Museum

www.famsf.org

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