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Art News Daily

The week in art news – continuing restrictions mean a patchy reopening for European museums

Plus: The chair of the Dutch committee on Nazi-looted art has resigned | Staff at the MFA Boston vote to unionise | and the director of the Liverpool Biennial steps down after differences with the board

27 November 2020

As a second phase of national lockdowns across Europe comes to an end, the reopening of museums will proceed at an uneven pace. In the UK, when a month-long lockdown in England ends on 2 December, museums in Tier 3 will not reopen while those in Tier 2 areas such as London and Liverpool will. Museums in Northern Ireland are closed until 11 December, while institutions in Wales and Scotland have remained open over the past month. In France, art galleries can reopen from this weekend, but museums have to wait until 15 December and their reopening depends on a decline in the rate of coronavirus infections. Meanwhile in Germany, restrictions are set to continue until at least 20 December.

The chair of the Dutch committee on Nazi-looted art has resigned. Alfred Hammerstein, who has been head of the Dutch Restitutions Committee since 2016, announced his resignation would take effect from 1 December – a week before the publication of a government report considering the committee’s handling of claims.

Workers at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston have voted to form a union. After a year-long campaign, employees voted by 133 to 14 to join the United Auto Workers. The New York Times reports that the museum, which has been opposed to the move but has not taken any legal action to stop it, is challenging the right of some 40 staff to join.

The director of the Liverpool Biennial has resigned after a disagreement with the organisation’s board of trustees. In a statement to the Art Newspaper, Fatoş Üstek says, ‘Governance issues with a lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities, and processes not being followed, taken together made my role untenable.’ Two trustees, the artist Fiona Banner and the lawyer Jon Sharples, have also resigned in support. A subsequent statement from the Liverpool Biennial cited management issues and announced the appointment of an interim director, Samantha Lackey.

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