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Liverpool loses Unesco World Heritage status

23 July 2021

Unesco has stripped Liverpool of its World Heritage status due to redevelopment projects of the historic docklands that earned the city its listing in 2004. The city had been put on Unesco’s list of world heritage sites in danger in 2012 and the final decision was made at a meeting on Wednesday. Unesco’s World Heritage Committee said of the proposed developments that ‘these constructions are detrimental to the site’s authenticity and integrity’. Liverpool is only the third site to lose its Unesco listing. The mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said she is ‘really disappointed’ by the decision and plans to appeal.

In France, a decree passed on 19 July and effective from 21 July requires that all visitors to cultural venues, including museums, must show proof of Covid vaccination, a negative PCR test or proof of recovery from the virus to gain entry. This requirement has applied to large events of more than 1,000 people since 9 June, but has now been extended to museums, fairs, concerts, cinemas, festivals and nightclubs. The decree applies to everyone over 18 and will be extended to cover 12–17 year olds on 30 August.

More than 1,000 artists, critics and other cultural figures have signed an open letter to the Polish ministry of culture criticising the end of the contract of Hanna Wróblewska, the director of the Zacheta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw. The letter, which was published in Gazeta Wyborcza on Monday, was organised by two former directors of the Zacheta gallery, which specialises in contemporary art. On 5 July, the museum was told that Wróblewska’s contract would not be extended past December 2021. The letter asks the minister of culture to rethink this decision given that Wróblewska, who has led the institution for 10 years, is at ‘the peak of her abilities’. Signatories include the artists Paweł Althamer and Joanna Rajkowska, the writer Andrej Stasiuk and the film director Agnieszka Holland.

In the UK, the Art Fund has announced its shortlist for its Museum of the Year 2021 award. Jenny Waldman, director of the Art Fund, said the shortlisted institutions ‘are all deeply embedded in their communities and alive to the possibilities of reaching far beyond their locality digitally’ and that all ‘have shown extraordinary innovation and resolve’. The five museums are the Centre for Contemporary Art Derry~Londonderry, Experience Barnsley, Firstsite in Colchester, the Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds and Timespan in Helmsdale. This winner of the award is to receive £100,000, although last year the five shortlisted museums shared the prize money between them.

In recent museum appointments, Jago Cooper has been appointed director of the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts (and Professor of Art and Archaeology) at the University of East Anglia. Cooper’s previous roles include being head of the Americas section at the British Museum and director of Santo Domingo Centre of Excellence for Latin American Research. He takes up his post in November. Meanwhile, in New York, Isolde Brielmaier has been appointed deputy director of the New Museum, taking over from Karen Wong. Brielmaier is currently curator-at-large at the International Center of Photography, New York; she was previously chief curator of exhibitions at Savannah College of Art in Design in Georgia and curator at the Bronx Museum.