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Iraqi forces recapture key sites in Mosul

Plus: UNESCO advisors issue warning over Stonehenge tunnel | Institute of Arab and Islamic Art to open in New York | LA’s MOCA to honour Jeff Koons | Seoul museum director resigns

7 March 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Iraqi forces recapture key Mosul sites | Iraqi forces fighting to recapture ISIS-occupied territory in Mosul have taken control of several key sites on the city’s western bank, it was reported today. Federal police units have captured government buildings which have been under ISIS control since October 2014, including the city’s main administration buildings, its Central Bank, and the Mosul Museum, whose collection of artefacts has suffered extensive looting and destruction. The Iraqi government, which launched its fight to retake the city last October and has been concentrating its forces on the west bank since this February, continues to battle for the old city amidst concerns for the safety of the 750,000 civilians in western Mosul as well as for the fate of the many historic buildings in the region.

UNESCO advisors issue warning over Stonehenge tunnel | The proposed tunnel to be built beneath Stonehenge would have a ‘negative and irreversible impact’ (£) on the site, an advisory group to UNESCO has warned. The International Council on Monuments and Sites UK (ICOMOS) suggested that alternative routes for Highway England’s planned bypass ought to be considered, adding that its current proposed length ‘appears to be based on cost rather than cultural heritage considerations.’ For more on this ongoing debate, see Apollo’s coverage here.

New York Institute of Arab and Islamic Art to open in May | A cultural centre for Arab and Islamic art is to open in New York this May, the Art Newspaper reports. The institute’s founder, New York-based Qatari national Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al-Thani, has described his project as an effort to ‘challenge certain stereotypes and misconceptions that hinder cross-cultural understanding’ by exposing Americans to the ‘breadth of art and culture from the Arab and Islamic worlds.’ The venue for the space, which will host a residency programme alongside quarterly exhibitions travelling from Arab and Islamic countries, has yet to be announced.

LA’s MOCA to honour Jeff Koons | The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles has named Jeff Koons as the honouree for its 2017 Spring Gala, the LA Times reports. Koons, whose multiple donations over the last few years have earned the museum over $5 million, has been chosen as the guest of the honour at this year’s gala in recognition of his contributions both as an artist and a philanthropist; in a statement released by the museum, MOCA director Philippe Vergne described the event as ‘our chance to say thank you and celebrate his monumental contributions to culture and his unsung philanthropy’.

Seoul museum director resigns for second time | Hong Ra-hee, director of Seoul’s Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, and the Ho-Am Art Museum in Yongin, has resigned from her position at both institutions due to ‘personal reasons’, according to a statement released by the Leeum museum on Monday. Hong has directed the Ho-Am Museum, which houses the private collection of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul, since January 1995, becoming head also of the Leeum when it was opened in 2004. However, she temporarily resigned from the latter post in 2008 when her husband, the Samsung Group chairman, was charged with tax evasion. Yesterday’s resignation has been similarly linked to a family scandal, this time involving charges of bribery and embezzlement brought against Hong’s son.

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