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Museum of Art Readers' Choice: Museum of Art,

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Only a year ago, Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Art looked to be on the verge of collapse. Revenues were down dramatically, and key staffers came and went with alarming frequency. Two years earlier, the plug had been pulled at the last minute on a much-anticipated exhibition, "Fashion: The Greatest Show on Earth," because of financial problems. Then came a seeming miracle: "Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes," which opened last August, accompanied by the announcement of a potential new savior for the museum. By the time Executive Director Irvin M. Lippman (MoA's third director in seven years) came on board in October, the papal show was well on its way to becoming the museum's most successful exhibition since 2001's "Palace of Gold & Light: Treasures from the Topkapi, Istanbul." Lippman, who turned around the Museum of Art in Cleveland, can't take credit for the Vatican show, but so far, he's providing a much-needed sense of stability. MoA has had a roller coaster of a history, with daring shows followed by duds and mediocrity. But it has several solid permanent collections, including the "CoBrA Collection," the "Contemporary Cuban Collection," and "European and American Modern and Contemporary Art from 1900 to the Present." The vast Williams Glackens collection got its own wing in 2001, when the museum got a $2.2 million, 10,000-square-foot expansion. And recent shows, including the ethereal "Enrique Martínez Celaya: The October Cycle, 2000-2002," are the most promising in a long time. Call MoA the Comeback Kid of Broward museums. Readers' Choice: Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale

 
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