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Ancient Burmese Buddhist site at risk from botched restoration

Plus: Philipp Demandt appointed director of Städel Museum and Liebieghaus | Didier Aaron and Kraemer withdraw from Biennale des Antiquaires | George Lucas abandons Chicago museum plans | and recommended reading

27 June 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

‘Inept and unsupervised’ restoration efforts pose threat to Burmese heritage site | The ancient Buddhist site of Bagan in central Burma is at risk of extensive damage due to poor restoration work by unqualified builders, reports the Times (£). Sun Oo, an architect surveying the site, fears that the government’s attempts to secure the unstable structures on the site have led to several pagodas needing to be completely rebuilt, devoid of any of the original ‘architectural value or ancient art’. ‘[The builders] use a shovel when they should be using a paintbrush,’ Sun said. Concerns about the poor maintenance of the site have been growing in recent years. Several temples have collapsed in the rain, and it is still unclear exactly how many ancient structures survive in the area.

Philipp Demandt appointed director of Städel Museum and Liebieghaus | Philipp Demandt has been appointed to head Frankfurt’s Städel Museum and Liebieghaus, following Max Hollein’s departure for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Demandt, who has been director of Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie since 2012, will take up the post in October.

Didier Aaron and Kraemer withdraw from Biennale des Antiquaires | Galerie Kraemer and Galerie Didier Aaron have withdrawn from the 2016 edition of the Biennale des Antiquaires following the arrest of dealers Laurent Kraemer and Bill Pallot, who are under investigation for the sale of allegedly fake 18th-century furniture. Kraemer has denied the allegations, but Pallot has reportedly admitted to the fabrication of furniture as an ‘intellectual challenge’.

George Lucas abandons Chicago museum plans | Film director and would-be philanthropist George Lucas has dropped plans to open a museum in Chicago due to strong opposition from local campaigning groups. On Friday, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art announced that Chicago would no longer be considered a potential site ‘in light of extensive delays caused by [the] Friends of the Parks’ group. The museum is now considering sites in California, according to officials.

Recommended reading | Many UK based art publications – including this one – have published pieces speculating on the domestic impact of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, and now the New York Times has offered an article on Brexit’s wider effect on the global market. Elsewhere in Europe, a new cultural property law is to go through the upper house of the German parliament on 8 July. The Art Newspaper has gauged the reactions of antiquities dealers, whose profession is at risk of a ‘death blow’ should the strict new legislation be passed.

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