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Paris museums returning to normal

8 January 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Paris Museums ‘Showing Signs of Recovery’ After Severe Drop in Attendance | In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris last November, the city’s cultural attractions have suffered a widely reported drop in visitors, with the Pompidou Centre and the Louvre reporting falls in attendance of 50 and 30 per cent, respectively. But as the New York Times reports, life has begun to return to normal. Though attendance has not entirely recovered, school groups – the absence of which was cited as a major cause of the drop – are beginning to return to museums, and campaigns to encourage visitors appear to be having some success.

Public Art is ‘an Unregulated Free for All’ Will Gompertz | In today’s Times (£), BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz launches a polemic against the ‘staggering’ culture of public art in the UK. The barbs are stinging, but Gompertz is more moderate than some critics in his attack. He believes that appointing arts professionals, rather than ‘amateurs’, to commission public art would make it ‘easy’ to improve the current standards. While it’s hard to argue with many of his lyrical criticisms, (‘legions of ill-conceived, badly executed sculptures have spread around the country like a nasty virus’) you do have to ask yourself whether the solution to the problem is quite as ‘simple’ as Gompertz suggests.

North American Museums Heavily Reliant on Endowments | The second annual ‘Art Museums by the Numbers’ report, conducted by the Association of Art Museum Directors, has found that the majority of museums in the USA, Mexico, and Canada still rely on endowments for the lion’s share of their funding, and that some 60 per cent of institutions in North America charge admission fees. Though the report does not address individual circumstances or differentiate between the three countries, it’s an interesting overview of the North American museum world.

Louvre-Lens Director Steps Down | Xavier Dectot, a specialist in Medieval art, has announced that he is to leave his position as director of the Musée de Louvre-Lens to take up a post as the Keeper and Principal Curator of art and design at the National Museum of Scotland. Dectot is the first director of Louvre-Lens, which opened to the public in 2012, and has been described as ‘pioneering’ by local newspaper La Voix du Nord (French language article).

Custot Gallery Delays Dubai Opening after New Year Fire | Bad news for the art lovers – and collectors – of Dubai. The opening of the new Custom gallery on Alserkal Avenue has had to be delayed after founder Stéphane Custot’s residence and office in the city state were badly damaged in a fire that broke out on New Year’s Eve. The gallery was slated to open on 18 January, but the launch has now been put back to March to coincide with Art Dubai 2016.

The Strange Story of the Art Thief Found Dead in London Canal | Finally, for a longer read, you might do well to turn to the Guardian’s investigation into the death of Sebastiano Magnanini. Magnanini, one of the thieves behind the notorious heist of Tiepolo’s The Education of the Virgin Mary from a Venice church in 1993, was found dead in a north London canal last autumn. Though police are treating the case as ‘suspicious’, it remains a mystery – one that becomes all the more confusing now we understand more about Magnanini’s eventful life.

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