Any effort to draw the summer crowd was hamstrung by a decision, made in the midst of the financial downturn in 2009, to close the museum for the month of August. Smith has reversed that decision, effective this summer, and the boon will be not just practical, but symbolic.

The closure, after all, contributed to a feeling of a museum in trouble — a feeling exacerbated by the 2009 departure of Smith's predecessor, Hope Alswang, after an ugly clash with RISD president John Maeda.

That incident, which shook the campus and Providence society alike, has begun to recede from memory, now. A new governance structure has the director reporting to the chairman of the museum's board of governors, rather than the college president.

Those around the museum are feeling optimistic about the place again. And with Smith at the helm, the real challenge is coming into focus: how to make the RISD Museum sparkle again for a city, a region, a nation that can't quite see it.

David Scharfenberg can be reached at  dscharfenberg@phx.com.

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  | 
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Museums, Providence, RISD,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY DAVID SCHARFENBERG
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   LIBERAL WARRIOR  |  April 10, 2013
    When it comes to his signature issues — climate change, campaign finance reform, tax fairness — Whitehouse makes little secret of his approach: marshal the facts, hammer the Republicans, and embarrass them into action.
  •   AT BROWN, A WIN FOR CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIVISTS  |  April 11, 2013
    A key Brown University oversight committee has voted to recommend the school divest from coal, delivering a significant victory to student climate change activists.
  •   HACKING POLITICS: A GUIDE  |  April 03, 2013
    Last year, the Internet briefly upended everything we know about American politics.
  •   BREAK ON THROUGH  |  March 28, 2013
    When I spoke with Treasurer Gina Raimondo this week, I opened with the obligatory question about whether she'll run for governor. "I'm seriously considering it," she said. "But I think as you know — we've talked about it before — I have little kids: a six-year-old, an eight-year-old. I'm a mother. It's a big deal."
  •   THE LIBERAL CASE FOR GUNS  |  March 27, 2013
    The school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut spurred hope not just for sensible gun regulation, but for a more nuanced discussion of America's gun culture. Neither wish has been realized.

 See all articles by: DAVID SCHARFENBERG