- The Washington Times - Monday, April 29, 2002

It was old-home day at the Hirshhorn Museum, to judge by the intimate nature of the crowd attending a reception for the museum's new director, Ned Rifkin.
For Mr. Rifkin, it was a new old-home day and a bit of musical chairs where he served as chief curator from 1986 to 1991 under James Demetrion, who appointed him to the job.
Mr. Demetrion is consultant at the Menil Collection in Houston, where Mr. Rifkin most recently served as director. So goes the art world whirl-around that the event Thursday drew a huge turnout of artists, curators, dealers and museum benefactors, including Christopher Addison and Sylvia Ripley, Chris Murray, Bill Christenberry, Willem de Looper, Jacqueline Leland, Jack Cowart, Larry Gagosian, George Hemphill, Robert Lehrman, Marsha Ralls, Janet Solinger and Conrad Cafritz.
"He should make this place more social," volunteered one distinguished Washington artist who asked not to be quoted, meaning he should create more buzz and more excitement around the museum's high-quality exhibitions.
Outreach is clearly on the honoree's mind, to judge by remarks he made to the crowd, which included noting the large number of artists present. "I feel very confident that we can levitate this building higher," he said, referring to the Hirshhorn as a "people's museum of contemporary modern art."
Mr. Demetrion privately had only praise for his successor, saying he has "great vision, is a scholar and a proven administrator.
"Don't forget to write, too, that he had a basketball scholarship at Syracuse," the former director said with a chuckle that shook his rotund frame.
That's not all the eclectic and elegant-looking Mr. Rifkin can claim. His biography says he received a doctorate from the University of Michigan, specializing in the films of Michelangelo Antonioni.

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