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Floods close Paris museums

Plus: Archaeologist accuses Syrian government forces of looting Palmyra | Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s private collection to be auctioned at Christie’s | Stanley Spencer Memorial Trust wins Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service | and Marion Lambert (1943–2016)

3 June 2016

Paris’s museums close to protect themselves from floods | Several major museums and cultural attractions in Paris have closed their doors after flood waters raised the river Seine to six times its normal level. The institutions that have closed include the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and, most recently, the Grand Palais. Officials at the Louvre say that up to 250,000 works of art are located in areas susceptible to flooding, particularly in the museum’s basement. In his email to staff, Jean-Luc Martinez, the director of the Louvre, wrote: ‘The museum will remain closed to the public tomorrow out of precaution: there is no danger to the public or our staff but will allow us to calmly remove certain art collections should it be necessary.’ According to the Guardian, the museum has a plan in place to evacuate all works of art in affected areas within 72 hours, while the Musée d’Orsay’s contingency plans stretch to 96 hours.

Archaeologist accuses Syrian government forces of looting Palmyra | On the eve of a two-day conference on heritage sites in conflict zones, archaeologist and head of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation Hermann Parzinger has claimed that Syrian government troops are guilty of looting in the ancient city of Palmyra. Although he described the recapture of Palmyra from ISIS in March as an ‘important victory for culture’, Parzinger warned that ‘this victory has not made Assad and his backers the saviours of cultural heritage.’ ‘Assad’s soldiers too plundered the ruins of Palmyra before the IS takeover,’ he wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ‘[…] their rockets and grenades indiscriminately pounded the antique columns and walls when this promised even the slightest military advantage.’

Christie’s to auction the private collection of Ronald and Nancy Reagan | Christie’s has announced that it is to sell the private collection of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. The belongings of the former President and First Lady include furniture, decorative works of art, books, memorabilia, jewellery, paintings, drawings and prints, with estimates ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. The sale is slated for September.

Stanley Spencer Memorial Trust wins Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service | The Stanley Spencer Memorial Trust which runs the Stanley Spencer Gallery has won a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The gallery, which houses the largest collection of works by the artist in the world, is staffed entirely by volunteers.

Marion Lambert (1943–2016) | Art collector and philanthropist Marion Lambert has died in hospital after being knocked down by a bus in central London. Lambert, 73, had worked closely with art-world figures including Simon de Pury and Francis Outred, and was last year involved in a sale at Christie’s that raised some £15 million. ‘Never one to indulge in airs and graces, she was as happy directing the installation of the exhibition as she was hoovering the carpet before the opening at Ely House,’ Outred told the London Evening Standard.

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