The Palm Springs Art Museum is cutting ties with The Galen in Palm Desert and no longer will be responsible for programming or operations.
The museum and the City of Palm Desert also are close to finalizing a new lease for the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden.
The Palm Springs Art Museum announced the new agreement with the City of Palm Desert on Friday. The city will announce future plans for The Galen building at a later date.
Philanthropist Helene Galen, who donated $1 million to the museum when The Galen opened in 2012, said the plan is for a group of artists to take over the operations and utilize it as a creative space.
“It’s really hard for the Palm Springs Art Museum to have a museum out there that small and that far. I think this will be good for all the artists to come out and use the facilities,” Galen said.
Palm Springs Art Museum Executive Director and CEO Louis Grachos said this is one of many measures the museum is taking to tighten up the overall annual operating budget, adding that the annual estimated cost of the Palm Desert museum site is $400,000 to $500,000.
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The museum is currently trying to stay afloat amid financial difficulties and is one of many art museums around the world selling prominent works of art from their collections through a process called deaccession.
The Helen Frankenthaler painting “Carousel,” donated to the Palm Springs Art Museum by the late interior designer Steve Chase, sold for $3.9 million on Oct. 29 at a Sotheby’s auction in New York.
The institution’s deaccession policy was approved by the collections committee and board of trustees in September. It states that funds will cover “direct care” costs of maintenance, conservation, storage and other associated costs of existing collections.
The museum has 12,000 objects in its collection, and Grachos estimates direct care costs are more than $1 million each year.
“We feel Palm Springs Art Museum can continue to make an ongoing contribution to the the Palm Desert community through the accessible Faye Sarkowsky Park,” Grachos said. “We will continue to grow and evolve our outdoor sculpture program at that location and proud to say we have a strong relationship with the Palm Desert public art program and we look forward to future collaborations.”
Palm Desert Mayor Gina Nestande couldn’t provide further details on plans for the museum, but did confirm the city is looking at the building for artistic use.
“Our city is is looking to maximize that space because it’s a beautiful location nestled right there by the mountains,” Nestande said.
The Palm Springs Art Museum Palm Desert — The Galen — opened in March 2012 with its first exhibit “Rodin to Now: Modern Sculpture” that included works by Pablo Picasso, Robert Therrien and Joel Shapiro. Palm Springs architect Reuel Young designed the 8,400-square-foot building.
The garden features significant works from the museum’s permanent collection among native plants, winding walkways, and water features. Artworks on view include pieces by Fletcher Benton, Betty Gold, Donald Judd, Dan Namingha, and Jaume Plensa, among others.
The museum has been closed since March and planned to reopen on Nov. 19 before Riverside County fell back into strict purple tier of the state’s reopening system. As a result, movie theaters, places of worship, indoor museums and zoos, aquariums, gyms and indoor fitness centers and indoor dining must remain closed.
Riverside County must remain in the purple tier for three weeks under state guidelines, meaning the museum wouldn’t receive the green light to reopen until at least Nov. 10.
Desert Sun reporter Brian Blueskye covers arts and entertainment. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bblueskye. Support local news, subscribe to The Desert Sun.