Friday, February 26th, 2010
Famed Miami based collectors Don and Mira Rubell have just announced plans to open up a new museum in Wasington D.C. to showcase their ever expanding collection of contemporary art. The location will serve as a satellite to their Miami museum, and was purchased for $6.5 million from Corcoran College and Gallery of Art in partnership with real estate investment firm, Telesis. Part of the building will also be developed into a hotel and private residences.
This isn’t the Rubell’s first foray into the D.C. area. In 2002, the couple bought the Capitol Skyline Hotel. The seven story building was designed by their friend, architect Morris Lapidus, known for the Fontainebleau Hotel and other Miami Beach properties. Around the same time, they began focusing on D.C. artists. “The reason we even bothered to find a business [in D.C.] is that the art is amazing,” noted Mera Rubell in a December interview with Art in America. “A hotel is a natural place to create a kind of home. I want artists there—it’s exciting for my existence here whenever I’m here.”
The Corcoran is slated to host an exhibition organized by and culled from the Rubell’s collection. 30 Americans focuses on African American artists in the Rubell’s personal collection and was first on view at their private Miami museum in December of 2008. Last week, Tyler Green’s Modern Art Notes raised concern over the arrangement. Clarifying that works in the exhibit are owned by the Rubell family and not by their foundation, he notes:
“The last line of the Washington Post story on the deal is a classic case of burying the lede: “Officials said the exhibition is not related to the sale.” Really? When an art-museum-and-school is preparing to exhibit a family’s private collection at the same time it is cutting a real estate deal with the owners of that collection (and curator(s) of the show), the arrangement deserves significantly more journalistic examination than a toss-off at the end of a story.”
Spokespersons for the Corcoran affirm the exhibit and property sale are not related. Yet, if the recent hoopla over the New Museum’s upcoming exhibit of museum trustee Dakis Joannou’s personal collection is waranted, perhaps the Rubell’s dealings with the Corcoran are also worth further examination.