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Palmyra : ISIS Blows up Triumphal Arch

5 October 2015

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

ISIS Blows up Triumphal Arch in Palmyra | In the latest of a series of shocking demolitions, ISIS have destroyed a Triumphal Arch in the ancient city of Palmyra. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has been in the hands of the self-styled ‘Islamic State’ since May, has been subject to a prolonged campaign of destruction. It is thought that the militants are destroying Palmyra’s monuments one by one so as to maximise the propaganda value of each levelling.

Suspected ‘Listening Devices’ Discovered in Ai Weiwei’s Studio | Ai Weiwei, who has returned to China after his triumphant visit to Europe, has posted photographic evidence of what he believes to be bugs planted by the Chinese authorities. He posted photographs of the devices on Instagram and Twitter – which are surely more convenient places to keep tabs on the artist.

John Whittingdale Speech Bodes Ill for UK Museums | UK Culture Secretary John Whittingdale’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference this weekend made many glowing references to Margaret Thatcher, the digital economy and indeed to his own department’s record, but only a passing nod to the country’s museums. As the next comprehensive spending review approaches, this does nothing to calm fears of huge cuts to the museum sector.

Strike Suspended at National Gallery | On Friday evening, the Public and Commercial Services union finally announced an end to a strike by the staff of London’s National Gallery that had seen much of the museum closed since mid-August. Since the action began, the museum’s visitor numbers have reportedly fallen by 35%.

Getty Acquires Earliest Known Photographs of Palmyra | The Getty Research Institute has acquired a set of photographs of the ruins of Palmyra that were taken by Louis Vignes, a French naval officer, in 1864. In light of ISIS’s ongoing campaign of destruction in the ancient city, the Getty’s acquisition could prove an invaluable historical record.

Olga Hirshhorn (1920-2015) | Olga Hirshhorn, the widow of Hirshhorn Museum founder Joseph, has died in Florida aged 95. Mrs Hirshhorn was a keen collector and philanthropist in her own right, and continued her involvement in the arts long after Joseph’s death in 1981.