I’ve heard, although been unable to confirm anywhere else that a curator from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg Russia who was coming to Ann Arbor was turned away at the Detroit Metro Airport by the Department of “Homeland” Security because he didn’t have the “correct” visa. He was to give a lecture in connection with the Celebrating St. Petersburg theme semester, and the U-M Art Museum’s nationally significant show “The Romanovs Collect: European Art from the Hermitage.”

If true, the situation reminds me when world famous actor-writer-director and British citizen Steven Berkoff was prevented from performing in the Ann Arbor Summer Festival in 2002. He was planning on performing his one-man play “Shakespeare’s Villains” in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, but officials at Detroit Metro Airport denied him entrance ostensibly because he had overstayed a visa by one day … five years before, according to details from the Ann Arbor News quoted on this website.

This from the London paper the Guardian:
“Berkoff, who has appeared in a number of American movies, including Octopussy and Beverly Hills Cop, was due to perform his one-man play Shakespeare’s Villains at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and at Grand Rapids, but was stopped by immigration officials at Detroit Metropolitan airport and sent home.

The officials apparently claimed he had violated the terms of a work visa issued in 1997. He told the Grand Rapids Press, “It was a nightmare”.

Evy Warshawski, director of the Ann Arbor festival, said Berkoff “kept telling them ‘I’m not a terrorist, I’m an actor!'”

To underscore the importance of the art show, here is an excerpt from a U Record story about the exhibit of 142 paintings:

“This is one the most ambitious cultural undertakings the University has ever mounted,” says UMMA Director James Steward. “This festival really is, both qualitatively and quantitatively, unique among the many anniversary celebrations being staged in the United States. It speaks to the University’s commitment to being a leader in scholarship and in the highest levels of quality.”

Steward says the collaboration with the Hermitage is the first large-scale partnership between “one of the top museums in the world” and a North American university. The Hermitage has lent works to institutions around the world, but never on this scale to a university museum, he says.”

Author: Rob