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British Museum trustee Ahdaf Soueif resigns over BP sponsorship, repatriation and workers’ rights

Plus: Study suggests lard was used in Stonehenge construction | and Frieder Burda (1936–2019)

16 July 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Novelist Ahdaf Soueif resigns as trustee of British Museum | The novelist Ahdaf Soueif has resigned from the board of trustees of the British Museum over what she describes, on the London Review of Books blog, as the institution’s ‘immovability on issues of critical concern’ to ‘the young and the less privileged’. Soueif cites the museum’s refusal to cut ties with BP, a major sponsor; its unwillingness to rehire workers following the bankruptcy of service provider Carillion; and its response to debates around repatriation of colonial artefacts. ‘Any story the museum chooses to tell must finally be judged in context,’ she writes, ‘that is, in relation to how it behaves – where it gets its money, how it treats its workers, and who it considers partners.’

Study suggests lard was used in Stonehenge construction | Archaeologists at Newcastle University have made a surprising discovery: the megaliths of Stonehenge may have been moved into place with the help of lard, according to findings published in the journal Antiquity (£). Pottery shards found nearby have long been known to contain traces of pig fat, and researchers argue that pig remains excavated at the site indicate they were roasted to make tallow rather than to eat.

Frieder Burda (1936–2019) | The German art collector and philanthropist Frieder Burda has died at the age of 83. Burda began collecting art in 1968, with a Lucio Fontana work he came across at Documenta. In 2004, he opened the Frieder Burda Museum in Baden-Baden; paying tribute to Burda, German culture minister Monika Grütters described the museum as ‘a stroke of luck for the many art lovers who visit it, for Germany’s cultural landscape, and for the artists to whom Burda gave space’.

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