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Cuts present worrying outlook for UK museums

13 January 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

UK Council Cuts Force Some Museums to Charge Entry Fees | A survey conducted by the Museums Association has found that nearly one in five UK museums that previously offered free access have implemented or plan to introduce entry charges. Somewhat more troubling was the finding that 18% of institutions have been forced to close parts or branches of their museums, and the trend sees no sign of letting up. More closures have been announced recently, with the north of England bearing the brunt of the losses. In total, the survey estimates that public funding to museums has fallen by 2%, while the sum generated from grants and donations has decreased by 4%. It may not sound meagre, but the wider picture presented by the report suggests that for some institutions, what looks like a little on a national scale really can mean a lot.

Christoph Vogtherr to Leave Wallace Collection | London’s Wallace Collection has announced that its Director, Dr Christoph Vogtherr, is stepping down to take up the directorship at the Hamburger Kunsthalle (German language article). Dr Vogtherr, who initially joined the Wallace as a curator nine years ago, has held its directorship since 2011. Since taking the reins, he has presided over a 20% increase in visitor numbers and overseen the widely admired refurbishment of its Great Gallery. Vogtherr will depart for Hamburg in October. In the meantime, the hunt is on for a successor.

Proposed Transport Network in London Puts Historic Buildings at Risk | The Victorian Society has voiced concerns over plans for the projected route of the Crossrail 2 train network, which it says puts some of London’s historic buildings at risk of demolition. The planned route, which will run through central London from Wimbledon in the south to Hertfordshire in the north, will put the future of more than a dozen listed structures into question. Crossrail 1, which is currently under construction, has attracted much criticism for requiring the demolition of landmarks including Soho’s Astoria theatre. In further news for London’s largely 19th-century sprawl, architect Terry Farrell has criticised his peer Renzo Piano’s scheme for a new skyscraper in Paddington as insufficiently ‘thoughtful’. Some claim, coming from the man responsible for Vauxhall’s SIS building, and behind the controversial ‘masterplan’ for the redevelopment of the Earl’s Court area.

Vincent Fremont Appointed Artnews CEO | Following Izabela Depczyk’s resignation last year, Warhol Foundation co-founder and sales agent Vincent Fremont has been appointed CEO of Artnews Ltd, the company that publishes ARTnews. Fremont joins the company at an intriguing juncture. Last autumn, Artnews SA and BMP Holdings announced a merger, in the process becoming one of the world’s largest art publishers.

Lego U-Turns on Ai Weiwei Bulk Order | When Danish toymaker Lego refused to grant Ai Weiwei a bulk order of its iconic bricks for an art project, it inspired global protest and a gargantuan social media storm. Now, the company has relented by dropping restrictions on bulk orders it feels will be used ‘for political purposes’, provided the recipient makes clear that Lego does not endorse their project. Whether or not the U-turn has come too late to make up for the bad PR the ban precipitated, we will just have to see.

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