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Sadiq Khan gives conditional backing to Garden Bridge

Plus: Climate change protests force temporary closure of British Museum | Ai Weiwei: EU’s refugee deal with Turkey is ‘immoral’ | Cairo’s Museum of Islamic Art signs deal with Louvre | Pratt Institute president to step down | Brooklyn Museum offers staff buyouts | Milwaukee Art Museum names new director | and recommended reading

19 May 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

New London mayor backs Garden Bridge | Newly elected London mayor Sadiq Khan has given his backing to Thomas Heatherwick’s controversial ‘Garden Bridge’ project. However, the mayor’s blessing comes with the condition that it must become a ‘genuinely public and open space’, with reduced hours for private fundraising events. Khan also criticised the manner in which the procurement process for the bridge was carried out, claiming that it ‘clearly fell short‘ on transparency – something that he has promised to bring to the project.

Climate change protests force temporary closure of British Museum | The British Museum was forced to close its gates to visitors this morning after Greenpeace activists scaled its columns in protest against BP’s sponsorship of ‘Sunken Cities’, its new exhibition. According to Greenpeace, 85 activists took part in the protest in order to warn about the dangers of rising sea levels.

Ai Weiwei: EU’s refugee deal with Turkey is ‘immoral’ | At the press view for his new exhibition at Athens’s Museum of Cycladic Art, Ai Weiwei has spoken out against the European Union’s deal to return migrants to Turkey. ‘I felt like I’d dropped into a deep, dark hole,’ the artist said of his first visit to the camps of Lesbos, where the refugee population is gradually being transported back to Turkey following the deal between Ankara and Brussels. ‘It is not legal or moral,’ Ai said of the situation, ‘it is shameful and it is not a solution. It will cause problems later.’

Cairo’s Museum of Islamic Art signs deal with Louvre | The Cairo Museum of Islamic Art has come to an agreement with the Louvre, whereby the two institutions will cooperate with staff training, joint exhibitions and international conferences. (French language article.) Yannick Lintz, director of the Louvre’s Islamic Art department, told Le Monde that preparations for a joint exhibition using artefacts from the collections of both museums are already underway for 2017 in Cairo and 2018 in Paris.

Pratt Institute president to step down | Thomas F. Schutte, the president of Manhattan’s Pratt Institute, is to step down at the end of the 2016–17 academic year. Schutte took up his position at the Pratt in 1993, having previously served as president of the RISD. Schutte’s tenure has been marked by several landmark projects, including the construction of five new academic buildings and the renovation of the institution’s 14th Street campus.

Brooklyn Museum offers staff buyouts | In an attempt to redress a $3 million budget deficit, the Brooklyn Museum is offering staff voluntary buyouts, reports the New York Times. ‘The cost of running the museum has substantially grown over the past few years,’ director Anne Pasternak told the NYT. ‘The museum is therefore being proactive.’ Similar offers have recently been made to staff at MoMA, while the Metropolitan Museum has announced it is also to begin scaling down its workforce: read our round-up of funding announcements for details.

Milwaukee Art Museum names new director | Marcelle Polednik has been appointed director of Milwaukee Art Museum, and replacing Dan Keegan in August. Polednik is currently director and chief curator at Jacksonville’s Museum of Contemporary Art, where she has presided over an increase in attendance of 70 per cent.

Recommended reading | In The Art Newspaper, Tate Modern director Frances Morris talks to Louisa Buck about her monumental ‘shake-up’ of the Bankside museum. ‘We haven’t rewritten the history but we are asking questions about the history and plotting co-ordinates. It’s a bigger story’, Morris says. Meanwhile at Frieze, Sara El Adl, an employee of Cairo’s Townhouse Gallery, talks about the demolition of parts of the institution earlier this year and the current attempts to rebuild it. ‘Townhouse has existed for 18 years but is still a newborn, perpetually struggling for survival’, she writes.

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