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After a series of scandals, the Met hires an in-house provenance team

12 May 2023

Max Hollein, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art ,has announced plans to hire four researchers to investigate the provenance of the collection. The announcement, made in a letter written to staff and reported by the New York Times, follows the seizure of antiquities, such as the coffin of the Egyptian priest Nedjemankh by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in 2019, and a series of revelations about the origins of objects, such as those acquired from the dealer Subhash Kapoor, who was convicted of antiquities smuggling in 2022. The District Attorney’s office in the last year alone has seized 27 antiquities (September 2022) and a headless bronze statue of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus (March 2023). In his letter, Hollein singled out artefacts acquired between the 1970 and 1990 as requiring particular scrutiny: ‘We currently estimate that this examination will include several hundred or more objects.’ The team of four will be one of the largest of its kind at an US institution.

The French culture minister has announced that when the Centre Pompidou in Paris eventually closes for renovations in 2025, it will be shut for five years. The Pompidou was originally meant to close in 2023 to allow repairs to nearly half a century of wear and tear. The date was postponed to keep it open during the Olympic Games, which will be held in Paris in 2024. The postponement means that the Pompidou will be unable to mark its 50th anniversary year in 2027 on site. During this time, the plan is for the museum to work with the Grand Palais and the Louvre on a number of satellite exhibitions, including a show devoted to art brut at the former and a display of its works at the latter.

On Thursday (11 May), Samuel Fosso was announced as the winner of this year’s Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize. The Cameroonian artist, who began his career as a studio photographer at the age of 13, uses self-portraiture to challenge social archetypes and reimagine historical figures. ‘His work has created an extraordinary platform for Black voices and artists,’ commented Shoair Mavlian, director of the Photographer’s Gallery. Fosso will receive £30,000 in prize money, with the other finalists (Bieke Depoorter, Arthur Jafa and Frida Orupabo) each awarded £5,000.

Connie Butler will be the next director of MoMA PS1. Butler is currently chief curator at the Hammer Museum and before that, she held the post of chief curator of drawings at MoMA from 2006 to 2013; she also has extensive experience with MoMA PS1, having worked on the curatorial team for major exhibitions such as ‘WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution’ (2008). She will assume her new position on 26 September. In other recent appointments, Nicolas Bourriaud, a former co-director of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, has been appointed artistic director of the 15th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, due to open next September. And in Brussels, the Bozar has appointed Zoë Gray, currently senior curator at WIELS, as director of exhibitions.