<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-PWMWG4" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">

Greek museums forced to close by protesting archaeologists

17 February 2023

Five of the most significant museums in Greece closed this week, as archaeologists staged protests against a new law that will remove these museums from the control of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, raising fears of privatisation. The National Archaeological Museum of Athens, the Byzantine and Christian Museum, the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Byzantine Culture of Thessaloniki, and the ArchaeologicalMuseum of Heraklion, Crete, were all shut on Monday as protestors demonstrated outside. On Wednesday, as David Chipperfield’s plans for the new National Archaeological Museum of Athens were unveiled at an event attended by the Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, protests continued. The Association of Greek Archaeologists has called for strike action over the new law; Lina Mendoni, the Greek culture minister, has argued that the changes constitute a necessary modernisation.

A court in Paris has ordered the Musée d’Orsay to restitute four paintings – two by Renoir, and one each by Gauguin and Cézanne – to the heirs of the art dealer Ambroise Vollard. It had been established by another court in May 2022 that the works were stolen by experts appointed to oversee Vollard’s succession after his death in 1939, before being sold to German museums or Nazi officers; the French state will not appeal the decision. Meanwhile, the collector Ronald Lauder has reached an agreement with the heirs of Irene Beran, who fled Czechoslovakia from the Nazis, over a Gustav Klimt he bought five decades ago; The Black Feather Hat (1910) was returned to the Beran heirs before Lauder bought it back for an undisclosed sum.

Tate Britain has announced details of a major rehang of its permanent collection – the first in 10 years – to open on 23 May. Half of the contemporary artists included in its displays will be women, while women will also be better represented in its galleries of 17th–19th century art; of the 800 works on show, 70 have been acquired in the past five years. The announcement on Wednesday came a few days after a group of right-wing protestors staged a demonstration against a drag-queen storytelling event at the gallery, with one arrest made.

On Monday morning, 11 Chinese ceramics were stolen from the Princessehof Ceramics Museum in Leeuwarden. Seven were damaged as the burglars made their escape from the museum; the other four remain missing and a search is underway for the perpetrators. The museum is closed this week and will reopen on 21 February