America’s Oldest City Museum Goes Woke

St. Francis swoons, not in ecstasy but chagrin as trustees find old art doesn’t say “wow.”
Pictured: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, St. Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy, 1595-96. Oil on canvas. (Photo courtesy of Allen Phillips and Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art)
Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum is embroiled in a coup and beset by fads.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE I’ ve written a couple of stories about exhibitions at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. It’s among the most distinguished museums in the country, distinguished for its sublime collection and spirit of experimentation.

In my two Atheneum stories, I didn’t write about its board of trustees, which is the worst board in the country. Stingy, imperious, and Podunk, the Atheneum board appeared on my radar screen last week when the museum and its very good director of five years parted ways. I know Thomas Loughman slightly because he was a curator at the Clark, where I was a curator for years, though we didn’t

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