On the morning of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Timken Museum of Art officials found themselves in a scramble.
The Raphael painting “Madonna of the Pinks” was bound to cross the Atlantic for an exhibition in San Diego just a few weeks away. First, the Balboa Park museum needed to finalize terrorism and earthquake insurance that would satisfy the most exacting standards of the National Gallery in London, where the painting usually lives.
The Timken’s chief operating officer, Anita Crider, breathed a sigh of relief later that day. They’d met the holiday deadline.
“Art insurance is totally different than any other kind of insurance,” she said. It was her first time arranging such a thing; her background is in investment banking.
The museum’s former director, John Wilson, set up the exchange. The Timken is lending out its prized possession, a Rembrandt painting called “St. Bartholemew,” in exchange for the Raphael, a Vermeer masterpiece, later in 2015 and a Turner painting in 2016.
They are extraordinary artworks, the kind that draw crowds. Timken officials hope the Raphael exhibit, which opened Dec. 19, proves a good launch to their 50th anniversary year, which coincides with Balboa Park centennial celebrations.
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The Timken sticks out like a sore thumb among the classic Spanish Revival buildings in the park. It's architecture says "We're so rich we can build anything we want in a public park and don't have to respect the surrounding buildings or park open space in any way, shape or form. It's reflects the outrageous ego of Frank Hope and the Timken donors. The Timken should remodel the outside of the building to better harmonize with its neighbors.
Mid-Century Modern Architect Frank Hope designed the Timken Museum as a "Jewelry Box" to showcase the Putnam Art Collection.
On a hot day in Balboa Park, the free air-conditioned Timken Museum is a great place to cool off.
The Timken is a gem of Balboa Park. It's architecture is a terrific example of mid-century modern, and matches nicely with the Mosher & Drew + Malcolm Leland's mid-century courtyard across the way. The Timken is an important, free, intimate setting for art, which San Diego needs, but it seems to be struggling with its identity. When Zinn refers to the Timken as a "center for art, energy and fun," it sounds like too much marketing schtick and too little vision for the unique role the Timken could play in San Diego's struggling art scene. Bring us innovative exhibitions and frequent, important conversations about art. Then tell us about it through a solid, consistent PR/social media effort (psst... start posting your collection to Instagram, along with upcoming events).
The Timken--the building, the interior design, and of course the collection--is an important facet on the Balboa Park gem. It warrants preservation and enhancement, not conformity with the stellar, yet theme-parkish architecture throughout the heart of the park.