Apollo Magazine

The week in art news – museums and galleries in England close in new lockdown

Plus: new dates announced for Philip Guston show | French senate approves restitution of 27 colonial-era artefacts | director of communications at the MNBAQ dies in Quebec City attack | Gagosian director fired after investigation into misconduct

A view of the closed National Gallery in London in June 2020.

A view of the closed National Gallery in London in June 2020. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

Museums and galleries in England are now closed under new national restrictions imposed to control the spread of Covid-19. These restrictions, which were announced on October 31, are in place between 5 November and 2 December. Some commercial galleries in London have said they may continue to open for by-appointment viewings. Elsewhere in Europe, the Netherlands has tightened its existing lockdown for a two-week period, meaning that all museums are closed until 19 November.

The four museums organising the Philip Guston survey which was initially set to open this year have announced new dates for the exhibition. It will now open at its first venue, the MFA Boston, in May 2022, and over the following two years will tour to the MFA Houston, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and Tate Modern in London. This follows an announcement in September that the exhibition would not open until at least 2024, a delay which the organisers put down to the coronavirus pandemic and the need to provide more context for the racial commentary in Guston’s work. The decision was widely criticised, including from Tate curator Mark Godfrey, who was subsequently suspended for his comments.

The French senate has unanimously approved a bill to restitute 27 colonial-era artefacts to Benin and Senegal (26 to Benin and one to Senegal). The bill applies only to these 27 objects; a senate committee report presented last week made clear its ‘strictly exceptional, ad hoc and limited nature’. Objects in French museum collections are still, under the country’s law, considered ‘inalienable’ parts of its national heritage, and cannot be returned by individual institutions.

François Duchesne, director of communications and marketing at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts in Quebec, has been identified as one of the victims of the stabbing that took place in the city on 31 October. The museum has paid tribute to a colleague who had ‘always dreamed of working at the museum’. A 24-year-old man from Montreal has been charged with two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder in relation to the attack.

A director at Gagosian, Sam Orlofsky, has been sacked from the gallery after investigations into alleged misconduct. Last week the gallery confirmed it had hired an external investigator to look into the allegations, which surfaced on social media in mid October. Orlofsky, who joined Gagosian in 2001, was primarily responsible for the gallery’s digital operations.

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