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Gainsborough’s House to receive nearly £5 million in HLF funding

Plus: Museums Association sets up group to advise on museum closures | Controversy over Dutch Royal Family’s sale of paintings | Programme announced for Fundación Arte in Buenos Aires | Design unveiled for Statue of Liberty Museum

10 October 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Gainsborough’s House to receive nearly £5 million in HLF funding | Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury, Suffolk, will receive Heritage Lottery Fund support of £4.73 million, including a development grant of £280,700, towards its £7.5 million ‘National Centre for Gainsborough’ project. The transformation of the house, where Thomas Gainsborough was born, will include enlarged displays of the artist’s work (of which the museum holds more examples than any other institution in the world), improved access, and an initiative to tell the wider story of the Sudbury area. For more on Gainsborough’s House, see Martin Oldham’s piece for Apollo here.

Museums Association sets up group to draft guidance on museum closures | The Ethics Committee of the UK’s Museums Association has established a working group to draft guidance on closure for the staff and governing bodies of museums in the wake of local authority cuts. The group, which is made up of members of the Ethics Committee alongside representatives from Arts Council England, the University of Leicester, and Museum Development North West, is assessing recent museum closures in order to learn lessons from them, and will publish a practical guide based on their findings next spring. ‘We want to ensure that governing bodies really understand the complexity and costs of closing a museum, and that museum staff and volunteers have a practical guide to closure which ensures the most ethical outcome in what is always a difficult time’, said MA policy officer Alistair Brown.

Controversy over Dutch Royal Family’s sale of paintings | Art historians have criticised the Royal Family of the Netherlands after it emerged that several paintings in its collection have been sold for profit in the past decade. According to NRC Handelsblad (Dutch language article), an unidentified member of the royal family sold a portfolio of 1,200 17th– and 18th-century drawings to a Dutch businessman in 2012, and two years later, the grandchildren of former queen Juliana sold a recently attributed work by the 19th-century Indonesian artist Raden Saleh to the National Gallery of Singapore. The Dutch government had classed the works as private property, but the French art historian responsible for identifying the Saleh work says she is nonetheless ‘very disappointed’ by the news: previously, she had attempted to persuade the royal family to donate or sell the painting to a Dutch museum.

Programme announced for Fundación Arte in Buenos Aires | The inaugural exhibition has been announced for Buenos Aires’s Fundación Arte, which was established by Federico Castro Debernardi in 2014 to promote artistic exchange between Argentina and the rest of the world. Opening on 6 December in the Palais de Glace, a former belle époque skating rink in the Argentinian capital, ‘Evolutionary Travels’ will be curated by Flavia Frigeri and explore artistic perspectives on evolutionary theory and its legacy. It features work by Argentinian artists including Amalia Pica and Jose Luis Landet alongside pieces by international figures such as Hito Steyerl and Klara Liden.

Design unveiled for Statue of Liberty Museum | Designs for a museum devoted to liberty and migration on New York’s Liberty Island were unveiled last week. Designed by architectural practice FXFOWLE, the museum is expected to cost around $70 million, much of which has been donated by patrons including Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, George Lucas and Mellody Hobson. ‘I can say we’re still trying to figure out who we are in this country’, said New York mayor, Bill de Blasio, explaining the significance of such a museum. ‘We’re still fundamentally questioning and debating what immigration means to us.’

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