Art: Nightmare at Noon

René d'Harnoncourt, director of Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art, rounded the corner of Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street shortly after noon one day last week and saw the most horrible sight a museum man can imagine. Smoke was pouring from his museum's shattered glass façade; firemen were scrambling up ladders, axes in hand. In the distance was the wail of more fire engines bucking Manhattan traffic to answer the three alarms signaling the worst museum fire in U.S. history.*

People First. The possibilities of irreplaceable loss to the art world were monstrous. On the...

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