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Museums assess flood damage in Scotland & northern England

7 January 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

UK Floods Force More Museums to Close Doors | As heavy flooding continues to dog parts of Scotland and the north of England, cultural institutions have begun to assess the damage inflicted by the deluge. The flood damage to museums is no joke. Cockermouth’s Wordsworth House & Garden is in need of repairs estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, while parts of Kendal’s Abbot Hall Gallery are still shut. York’s Jorvik Centre, which was submerged under half a metre of flood water, may be forced to close its doors for up to a year. But the ordeal is not yet over. Yesterday, two museums in the Leeds area – the Leeds Industrial Museum in Armley and the Thwaite Mills in Stourton – have closed ‘until further notice’. In Scotland, meanwhile, work has begun to stabilise Abergeldie Castle, a 16th-century tower house close to Balmoral. The historic building remains at risk of collapsing into the river Dee after its banks were washed away by a raging flow, and as Professor Donald Cook warns in The Conversation, saving the structure will be no easy task.

Court Rejects Monet Attribution | The Art Newspaper reports that a French court has definitively ruled in favour of the Wildenstein Institute over the disputed attribution of Les Bords de Seine à Argenteuil – a painting claimed to be the work of Monet by its owner, David Joel. In 2011, the work was featured on the BBC TV show Fake or Fortune, and after extensive research, the programme’s art historians decided the work was indeed a genuine Monet. However, when it was put to the Wildenstein Institute, the non-profit body that prepared the artist’s catalogue raisonné, they refused to attribute it. As TAN notes, the court’s role was to establish whether it should force the authors of the catalogue to include a painting they did not believe to be authentic, rather than to formally attribute it. Bendor Grosvenor, who worked on the programme, has also written about the verdict, asking readers to bear in mind ‘the truly bonkers French system of authenticating paintings’.

Museum of London Confirms Move to Smithfield Market | Even regular visitors to the Museum of London struggle to locate its well concealed entrance amid the postwar planning of London Wall and the neighbouring Barbican complex. For anyone who’s ever felt its location seems almost intentionally confusing, there’s good news: yesterday, the Museum confirmed that it is to move to Smithfield Market by 2021. Listing all the good reasons would defy the space limits of Art News Daily – see Thomas Marks’s piece from last year for a more comprehensive explanation.

Revolutionary War Era Shipwreck Found on Construction Site | First, we had the wreckage of the San José. Then, earlier this week, came the story of the human remains thought to have belonged to a 16th-century pirate that were dug up in Edinburgh. Now, archaeologists in Alexandria, Virginia, have uncovered the remains of a Revolutionary War-era ship on a construction site. According to the team behind the find, what remains of the vessel is uncommonly well preserved, and may well help researchers unearth new information as to how 18th-century colonists built their ships.

MoCA North Miami Beach Director Fired | After much controversy over allegations of sexual harassment and the use of ‘inappropriate’ language to staff, MoCA North Miami Beach director Babacar M’Bow has been dismissed from his post. M’Bow, who was put on administrative leave after complaints surfaced last month, has denied the claims of outreach and programming manager Tiffany Madera as ‘false…the reaction of an employee who thought I was going to fire her’.

Southern California Museums Offer Day of Free Admission | As everyone knows, it never rains in Southern California (though don’t quote us on that). But if it does, the penultimate day of the month would be the opportune moment. On 30 January, around 30 of the most prestigious museums in the area are offering free admission for the entire day. If you can tolerate the crowds of selfie enthusiasts who will no doubt take advantage of the initiative, we recommend LACMA’s colossal Frank Gehry retrospective and SBMA’s Latin American photography show.

Laurie Anderson Announced as Guest Director for Brighton Festival | Dog lovers and fans of avant-garde 1980s pop music rejoice: Laurie Anderson is coming to Brighton. The performance artist has been confirmed as the guest director of this year’s Brighton Festival – its 50th edition. So far, details are limited, but the organisers have confirmed that the programme will include a new performance from Akram Khan, and new work from Argentinian artist Lola Arias. Fingers crossed that we get a reenactment of the O Superman singer’s Heart of a DogWoof.

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