Thursday, February 10, 2011
The financially troubled Monterey History and Maritime Museum hit more rocky waters this week, with controversies brewing over the board’s unilateral decision to hire Los Angeles artist Andre Miripolsky to create a “historama’’ depicting local scenes for the facility. Costume Collection Director Melissa Burnett also has resigned, saying she disagreed with the board’s new policy of exercising full “creative control’’ over exhibitions.
“Museum professionals are the ones who should be making decisions regarding messaging and programs of the museum,’’ Burnett says.
The museum has been shuttered since January of last year, and former Executive Director Pam Crowe-Weisberg resigned last month, after a series of disputes with the board over the direction of a planned reopening. Board President Tom Hood says the museum is on schedule to relaunch on April 15, pending approval of its business plan by the Monterey City Council.
Hood defends the decision to hire Miripolsky, a friend of board member Mark Baer, which came as a surprise to other museum officials who had been preparing separate exhibition plans for the opening.
He “can hit the ground running,’’ Hood says. He says the $80,000 fee previously cited for hiring Miripolsky included things such as print-shop and other work to be done by the staff.
Asked if Miripolsky, whose work has previously appeared at the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College, has started the mural, Hood replies: “I was informed that [he] is hard at work, with the help of museum staff.’’
Collections Director Marisa Michelle Mercado says the only staffer whose involvement she was aware of was Facilities Manager Randall Thayer, who gave Miripolsky a tour during a recent visit.