A Strange Day in Pittsburgh

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Two pieces of news out of Pittsburgh today. One is that Richard Armstrong, director of the Carnegie Museum of Art, has announced that he’s stepping down after 16 years at the museum and 12 as director. That’s the third American museum to lose its leadership this week, following the announced retirement of Mimi Gates in Seattle and the death of Anne d’Harnoncourt in Philadelphia.

The second item is much stranger and presumably unrelated. The Carnegie also announced today that one of its own security guards, Timur Serebrykov, 27, has been charged with using a key to seriously damage a Vija Celmins painting, Night Sky #12. One of her black and white scenes of a starry sky, it was on display as part of this year’s Carnegie International. (It’s also part of the Carnegie’s permanent collection.) The incident happened May 16 and was caught on a security camera. According to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website, a police affidavit describes the painting as “damaged beyond repair with a gouge ripped through the middle.”

At least he didn’t have a gun.

UPDATE: Though at the first the damaged painting was reported to be from the Carnegie’s own collection, the story changed over the weekend. It turns out to have been on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago. More details here.