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Egyptian Museum staff face tribunal over ‘botched beard’

25 January 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Egyptian Museum Staff to Face Tribunal Over Botched Tutankhamun Beard | Eight officials from Cairo’s Egyptian Museum are to face a disciplinary hearing over the notorious repairs to the beard of Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s death mask. The damage incurred after museum staff attempted to glue the beard back on required an expensive cleanup job. The officials held responsible for the fiasco have been suspended and, although there is, at present, no question of prison sentences being handed out, heavy fines and sackings are expected. The death mask is one of Egypt’s most famous artefacts and given the catastrophic effects of recent terror attacks on the country’s tourism industry, it’s hardly surprising that the botched repairs have not been taken lightly.

Sir Roy Strong : ‘What we need is not one National Trust, but two’ | Sir Roy Strong has penned a piece for the Sunday Times (£) in response to the National Trust’s plans for the refurbishment of Clandon Park. Strong criticises the NT for a perceived shift downmarket. ‘It is as though [the National Trust] has been seized with a belated fit of New Labour luvvie-dom obsessed with political correctness, inclusivity and accessibility’, Strong writes, declaring that the attentive response to the Clandon fire is an ‘anomaly in the trust’s present agenda’. Strong words, but the former V&A Director has a solution of sorts: this ‘surely lies in splitting off the houses and their surrounding gardens from the vast remit of trust-owned landscape’ as the two, as he sees it, call for ‘quite different’ expertise. Sensible though this seems in many ways, one dreads to think of the bureaucracy such a move would involve.

Banksy Named ‘Most Influential’ UK Art World Figure | In further Sunday Times related fun, the paper has published its annual ‘500 most influential’ list (£), which includes a category for ‘art’. Banksy (whose topical piece on the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp has grabbed headlines the world over) tops the ranking, followed by Iwona Blazwick, Nicholas Cullinan, and Jeremy Deller. Congratulations all round. The precise criteria for the rankings (and what luminaries such as the Sunday Times’ own art critic Waldemar Januszczak make of being left out), has sadly not been revealed.

SNP Slams ‘Astronomical’ Bill for Palace of Westminster Repairs | In echoes of the furore surrounding the construction of the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, politicians from the Scottish National Party have described the bill for badly needed repairs to London’s Palace of Westminster as ‘eye watering’; the expense is unjustifiable in times of self-imposed austerity. ‘The people coming up with these proposals must live on another planet if they think it will wash with the public,’ Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard was quoted as saying in The National. While the Grade-I listed building must of course be repaired before the damage of time becomes irreversible, perhaps the Nationalists have a point: has the time finally come for the UK Parliament to move to a new home?

Christine Macel Named Curator for 57th Venice Biennale | Christine Macel, the chief curator of the Pompidou Centre, has been appointed to put together next year’s Venice Biennale. Macel has past form in Venice: she curated the French pavilion in 2013 and co-curated Belgium’s offering in 2007. What can we expect from Macel’s Biennale? After Okwui Enwezor’s dystopian offering last year, many critics will be hoping that Macel can inject a bit more optimism into the proceedings…

Watts Studio Opens to the Public | Finally, the Watts Gallery in Compton, Surrey, will unveil the studios of George and Mary Watts to the public for the first time tomorrow. The refurbishment of the studios was carried out with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund, who supported the project with a £2.4 million lead grant. Our next day out is covered, then.