Daily digest: Tate Liverpool launches an international design competition, more museum closures, and more

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Daily digest: Tate Liverpool launches an international design competition, more museum closures, and more

The National Air and Space Museum is just one of the Smithsonian museums facing COVID-related closures. (Tim Evanson/Flickr, accessed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Good afternoon and welcome to another Friday roundup as we head into the first real weekend of 2022.

Here’s what you need to know:

Tate Liverpool is searching for an architect to spearhead a massive overhaul

Tate Liverpool, originally opened in 1988 as northwestern England’s offshoot of the venerable Tate Britain museum in London, is searching for an architecture firm to head its next major renovation. The James Stirling-designed, Grade I-listed building on Liverpool’s Albert Dock has underwent several major updates already, including the addition of new public facilities to the unused top floor, a foyer overhaul in 2007, and a cafe refresh.

Now, the museum is putting $34 million (£25 million) towards modernizing the building’s galleries and interested firms have until February 4 to enter the design competition. The full brief is available here, and Tate expects to announce a shortlist on March 18.

H/t to Building Design

More U.S. museums shutter over COVID-induced staffing shortages

Well, with new infections of COVID-19 topping 750,000 daily at the time of writing (after briefly reaching 1 million), it was inevitable that even more museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions would be forced to close; if not to curb the spread of disease, then owing to staffing shortages as employees fall ill.

As Artnet News points out, even institutions that had taken preemptive measures and shuttered over the long New Year weekend, such as five Smithsonian museums, are being forced to extend their closures over staffing shortages. All Washington, D.C., museums are closed today due to a snowstorm that buffeted the East Coast earlier this morning, but the Anacostia Community Museum won’t reopen until January 18; the National Air and Space Museum won’t reopen until January 20, and the National Museum of African Art won’t reopen until tomorrow, January 8. After January 18, five of the D.C. museum in the Smithsonian’s network will also move to a reduced Wednesday-to-Sunday schedule.

Larger museums in New York such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art are remaining open but cutting dining services and slashing attendance maximums to help keep visitors safe. Meanwhile, the New York Public Library (NYPL) has closed its Treasures exhibition at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building through January 18—the show puts the most vaunted pieces from the library’s 125-year-old research collections on display.

The Queens Public Library system has been affected as well. Apart from the closure of the Flushing Branch, the busiest library in the United States, in May of 2021 after the HVAC system failed, eight of the 61 libraries across the borough were forced to close indefinitely shortly after Christmas due to staffers testing positive for COVID.

H/t to Artnet News

Architecture firms in New York could soon have to post salaries for their job listings

If you’re hunting for an architecture job in New York City, a major change could suddenly shift things in your favor. On December 15, 2021, during the last New York City Council meeting of 2021, a pay transparency bill requiring employers to post the salary range in job listings passed in a 41 to 7 vote.

If Mayor Eric Adams signs the bill into law, employers will be required to include that information in every new job listing starting this April. For those shopping around for a new job, the ability to weed out low paying positions from your application pool and ensure that you’re being paid the same amount as your peers regardless of sex, gender, orientation, or race is likely to be a major boon.

H/t to Archinect

Here’s why lighting design plays a major part in hospital comfort

Well-lit healthcare spaces with ample natural light might seem like a no-brainer at this point, but anyone who’s ever had to stay in an office-like hospital built in the 20th century can tell you it didn’t always use to be that way. Wired documents the rise, fall, and rediscovery of the benefits of natural light in hospitals and psychiatric facilities, and the studies into the biophilic principles behind the shift.

H/t to Wired

Remembering pioneering engineer Max Fordham

British engineer Max Fordham, often lauded as a giant of sustainable design and engineering, has passed away at 88. The firm he founded in 1966 that would later become Britain’s first AEC Limited Liability Partnership, Max Fordham LLP, confirmed that Fordham died on January 4.

Fordham was lauded for his involvement with sustainable, human-scale projects across England, including Neave Brown’s Brutalist Alexandra Road Estate, often considered the most famous of England’s mid-century social housing schemes. Fordham was especially concerned not with one subsystem or another, but with taking a holistic and hands-on approach to each building as a singular entity.

H/t Dezeen

Louvre attendance drops to pre-pyramid levels

It shouldn’t be surprising that the spread of COVID’s highly contagious Omicron variant is blunting the public’s appetite to visit crowded art galleries, but the Louvre in Paris has been hit particularly hard. As The Art Newspaper reports, attendance has fallen so far during the last two years of the pandemic that it’s now down to figures not seen since 1986—three years before the iconic glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei opened. The museum only saw 2.8 million visitors in 2021, compared to pre-COVID figures of 10 million. That’s about the same amount as in 2020, but with the exception that the Louvre wasn’t closed for much of 2021 at all, suggesting lower turnout across the board.

H/t to The Art Newspaper