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Could the mystery of Nefertiti’s tomb soon be solved?

Plus: UK museum sector takes stock of the Budget 2016 | Federal agents seize sculptures destined for Asia Week New York | and ‘Soviet Versailles’ to be restored despite accusations of historical revisionism

17 March 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Possible ‘organic materials’ detected behind walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb | Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities has announced the discovery of what could be ‘organic material’ in an empty space behind the walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The find, made with the use of a powerful scanner, may well be one step further to establishing whether or not Queen Nefertiti was buried alongside Tutankhamun, as some specialists believe. ‘[The scans point to] different things behind the walls, different material that could be metal, could be organic,’ said Mamdouh el-Damaty at a press conference today. Whatever is eventually revealed, this is going to be interesting.

UK museum sector takes stock of the Budget 2016 | George Osborne’s eighth budget, announced yesterday, saw a significant boost in funding for several museums and arts projects. The Chancellor earmarked £5 million for the V&A Dundee, £1 million for S1 Artspace in Sheffield to support the creation of a new arts complex, and an extra £13 million for Hull’s tenure as UK City of Culture next year. In addition to this, Osborne also invited cities in northern England to bid to host a ‘Great Exhibition of the North’ for 2018. In London, beneficiaries included the Royal College of Art, to which Osborne pledged £54 million between now and 2022 – significantly more than any other institution. As reported yesterday, new guidelines for VAT refunds were also issued to support free entry to museums. Alistair Brown of the Museums Association has stated that he is ‘delighted’ at the initiatives. However, with further cuts to local council spending imminent, he also warned that the ‘fundamental problem’ of diminishing regional funds was far from resolved.

Federal agents seize sculptures destined for Asia Week New York | Federal agents in Manhattan have seized a number of antiquities in recent days, reports the New York Times. Last Friday, two sculptures that were intended for sale at Christie’s were intercepted: the auction house denies any knowledge of foul play and is cooperating with the investigation. On Tuesday, agents seized a 2nd-century Gandharan Bodhisattva head as it was in transit to an unnamed customs house, and the following day an ancient Afghan statue was also confiscated. The seizures coincide with Asia Week New York and form part of Operation Hidden Idol, which aims to recover items stolen from Asia’s heritage sites.

‘Soviet Versailles’ to be restored despite accusations of historical revisionism | A Moscow fairground created during the Stalin era is to be restored to splendour, reports The Art Newspaper. The VDNKh fairground complex, known as the ‘Soviet Versailles’, was created in the 1930s to glorify the USSR’s economic achievements, but has fallen into disrepair since the 1990s. On the one hand, the drive to restore the park can be seen as a welcome sign of Russia’s pragmatism in improving the state of its heritage attractions. On the other, though, there are worries that parts of the redeveloped amusement park will be used to ‘rehabilitate Stalin’s image’, says TAN. A new addition to the complex will be a ‘history park’, part of which will apparently be devoted to praising Stalin’s achievements as leader of the Soviet Union.

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