British Museum sets out plans for a revamp

Plus: Collector withdraws works from Boulder Museum exhibition | Jan Fontein (1927–2017) | and Design Museum acquires rainbow flag

4 July 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

British Museum to reconfigure galleries and Reading Room | With the publication of its 2016–17 annual review, the British Museum has introduced its future plans as well as a summary of the past year’s activity and achievement. On Tuesday, director Hartwig Fischer announced his intention to overhaul the museum’s galleries and reopen its Reading Room, which has been closed for several years. The reconfigured museum will emphasise the interconnectedness of different cultures. The announcement comes as the museum’s visitor numbers were shown to have decreased by 9 per cent this year, from 6.9 million in 2015–16 to 6.2 million. There are no plans to close the museum as part of the revamp, Fischer said.

Collector withdraws works from Boulder Museum exhibition | Following last month’s mass staff resignations at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, in which employees accused the institution of violating labour laws, collector JoAnn Gonzalez Hickey has revoked her loan of works to the museum for a current temporary exhibition. The cancelled exhibition, titled ‘Walk the Distance and Slow Down’, featured 29 artists whose works are in Gonzalez Hickey’s collection, and was originally scheduled to run until 10 September. The museum’s executive director David Dadone, responding to the Denver Post’s inquiry about the show, said that there were no plans to take down any other installations, and that the museum was ‘in the process of recruiting to fill positions […] moving quickly but thoughtfully to find the right individuals to help move the museum forward.’

Jan Fontein (1927–2017) | Asian art scholar Jan Fontein has died aged 89. Fontein served as director of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts from 1975 to 1987, where he oversaw the ambitious building and renovation programme that resulted in I.M. Pei’s new west wing, which opened in 1981. Fontein’s death on 19 May was announced in his Boston Globe obituary last week.

Design Museum acquires rainbow flag | London’s Design Museum has announced its first round of acquisitions since reopening at its new home in Kensington last year. The first new addition to the museum’s permanent collection is a rainbow flag, one of a series of 10 designed in 1978 by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker. The flag has since become a globally recognised symbol of pride for the LGBTQ community.