Can cultural institutions help make cities better places to live, work, and learn? Museums around the world, from Bilbao to Milwaukee and London to Beacon, attract tourists and spark economic renewal. But the relationship between museums and their urban settings has become increasingly complex.
What benefits do museums offer their cities, and what should we expect of them? Are they mere indulgences of the elite, draining precious public funding, or democratic expressions of time and place? Do they contribute to the sustainability of the city by offering innovative solutions to urban problems? Should cultural institutions become developers?
Linda Lees, founder and director of Creative Cities International, moderates a discussion of questions like these with Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution; Marc Pachter, Director Emeritus of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Fred Manson, an urban renewal specialist from Britain whose past projects include the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge; and Frederic Schwartz, an architect and planner whose projects include the new Staten Island Ferry Terminal and the new airport in Chennai, India. Sponsored by the Wolfson Center for National Affairs- The New School
Kinshasha Holman Conwill
Kinshasha Holman Conwill is a leader in the arts and museum world and is currently working to establish the Smithsonian's new Arfican-American Museum. She has been a consultant to LINC (Leveraging Investments in Creativity), a national initiative to develop support systems for individual artists.
She was formerly director of The Studio Museum in Harlem. She was managing editor for Culture Counts: Strategies for a More Vibrant Cultural Life for New York City (New York Foundation for the Arts) and for Creative Downtown: the Role of Culture in Rebuilding Lower Manhattan (New York City Arts Coalition).
She has served as a juror for public art projects and exhibitions, and on advisory and grant panels for a number of organizations including the American Academy in Rome (Prix de Rome), the Ford Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Wallace Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
She is a member of the Board of Overseers of California Institute of the Arts and the board of directors of New Visions for Public Schools. She has organized or co-organized over 40 exhibitions, including "To Conserve a Legacy: American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities," and "Passages: Contemporary Art in Transition."
Linda Lees is the founder and director of Creative Cities International.
Fred Manson is an urban renewal specialist from the United Kingdom. He is the former Director of Regeneration at the London Borough of Southwark.
Fred Manson was appointed Director of Development in 1990 and Director of Regeneration and Environment in 1994 in the UK. His areas of expertise include economic development, planning, property management, environmental management, regeneration and leisure and community services. He has done some of London’s most significant projects, such as Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge and Greater London Authority headquarters.
Marc Pachter was appointed director of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC in July 2000 and worked here until January 2008. From 1994 to 2000, he was counselor to the secretary of the Smithsonian Institute.
For most of his career at the Smithsonian, he served as chief historian of the National Portrait Gallery, with particular interest in America's cultural relationship with the non-American world and with the function of biography as a genre of history. Dr. Pachter is the editor of "Telling Lives: The Biographer's Art" in which seven acclaimed biographers interpret the art of biography. Dr. Pachter was also chair of the delegation of America's cultural critics to the Soviet Union in 1989. From 1985 to 1990, he was senior cultural advisor to the United States Information Agency.
An author and editor with a particular interest in cultural history and biography, Dr. Pachter has conducted public interviews for the Smithsonian with such notable figures as Agnes de Mille, William L. Shirer, Umberto Eco, Katharine Graham, and Walter Cronkite.
Frederic Schwartz is a New York architect. Founder and owner of Frederic Schwartz Architects, an internationally recognized architecture and urban planning firm, he designed original memorials for the victims from Westchester County, NY and New Jersey who died in September 11 terrorist attacks.
Schwartz was profiled in The New York Times as "The Man Who Listened" and "The Man Who Dared the City to THINK Again" for his post-9/11 work with the families of the innocent victims. He taught Harvard's only post-Katrina course: "Cities in Crisis: New Orleans" and is currently involved in Global Green's affordable housing initiative in Holy Cross.