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Regional museums: Melvyn Bragg weighs in on the debate

Paris Fairs Curb American Ambitions | National Museum of Scotland Announces 10 New Galleries | Van Gogh’s Mental State ‘Revealed’ | Nairn’s London at 50

16 February 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Melvyn Bragg Condemns Museum Closure | Broadcaster Melvyn Bragg has hit out against culture cuts, describing a regional museum closure as an example of London giving the North of England ‘a kick in the teeth.’ Bragg’s comments were prompted by the announcement that Bede’s World, a museum in Jarrow dedicated to the life of the Venerable Bede, was to close, partly due to a lack of funds. Although such closures have provoked outcry from the museum sector, surprisingly few public figures of Bragg’s standing have thrown their hat into the ring to complain. And for better or for worse, celebrity involvement can make all the difference if we are to prevent regions of the country from becoming what Sharon Heal of the Museums Association refers to as ‘cultural deserts.’

Paris Fairs Curb American Ambitions | It’s been a difficult period for Parisian art fairs. Following the early closure of Paris Photo in the wake of the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of 130 people last November, it now seems as though the fair is withdrawing its stake in the US. Yesterday, organisers announced that the fourth edition of Paris Photo Los Angeles, which was due to take place between 29 April and 1 May, has been cancelled due to the ‘absence of a mature market.’ Plans for an LA edition of FIAC have also been shelved.

National Museum of Scotland Announces 10 New Galleries | The National Museum of Scotland has announced that its 10 new galleries are to open on 8 July. This significant undertaking will increase the institution’s display space by over 40 per cent and showcase some 3,000 objects, most of which have not been on display for at least a generation.

Van Gogh’s Mental State ‘Revealed’ | In news that should probably be approached with a degree of scepticism, researchers examining Van Gogh paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago have concluded that a catastrophic ‘meltdown’ caused the artist to change his palette as his mental state declined, suggesting that his condition actively changed the way he perceived colour. ‘Maybe it’s going too far to say that painting was therapy for him but in a sense it was’, says Francesca Casadio, who headed the project. For a rather different take on the ‘discovery’, turn to Jonathan Jones’s blog at the Guardian.

Nairn’s London at 50 | ‘This book is a record of what has moved me, between Uxbridge and Dagenham. My hope is that it moves you, too’, Ian Nairn wrote in the preface to his classic guidebook-cum-architectural study Nairn’s London. It’s somewhat incredible that it has been 50 years since the first edition hit the shops. In the Guardian, Rachel Cooke has penned a short but sweet tribute to this minor masterpiece. It is far from an obsolete curio: written at a time when London’s landscape appeared to be changing beyond recognition, it feels more relevant than ever.

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