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Thieves raid historic treasury at royal palace in Dresden

Plus: Conservative Party general election manifesto promises £250m for culture | staff at MOCA in Los Angeles seek to unionise | and Matteo Salvini hits out at sculpture showing him shooting refugees

25 November 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Thieves raid historic treasury at royal palace in Dresden | At around 5am this morning (25 November), police in Dresden were alerted to a break-in at the Green Vault of the former royal palace, the Residenzschloss, home to one of Europe’s largest collections of decorative arts and jewels. Marion Ackermann, director of the Dresden State Art Collections, confirmed this afternoon that the thieves have stolen three diamond jewellery sets – part of the treasury amassed by Augustus the Strong in the 18th century. Ackermann has said that it is impossible to put a financial value on the missing objects, which are ‘too well known’ to be sold on the market. At the time of writing, the Green Vault is closed to the public, while the perpetrators remain on the run.

Conservative Party general election manifesto promises £250m for culture | The Conservative Party election manifesto, which was launched by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Telford yesterday afternoon, promises to establish a fund of £250m towards the support of local libraries and museums. The Conservative Party has called it ‘the largest cultural capital programme in a century’. The manifesto also offers ‘arts premium’ of around £109m for secondary schools, to fund ‘enriching activities for all pupils’, and a commitment to maintaining free entry to national museums – the latter is also promised in the manifestos of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats, while Labour’s manifesto includes a pledge for a £1bn Culture Capital Fund, details of which were also launched last night, at an event in east London.

Staff at MOCA in Los Angeles seek to unionise | Last Friday (22 November), a group of more than 50 employees at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles announced their intention to unionise with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The staff members cite salaries, working conditions and ‘lack of transparency’ at the institution as the main reasons behind the move, which comes in the wake of a number of recent pushes toward unionisation from staff at US museums, including the Guggenheim and the New Museum in New York and the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. In a statement provided to the LA Times, a representative for the museum said: ‘While we respect the right of employees to decide whether or not they wish to be represented by a union, we do not believe that this union is in the best interest of our employees or the museum.’

Matteo Salvini hits out at sculpture showing him shooting refugees | The Italian politician Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League party, has criticised a sculpture by Italian artist Salvatore Scuotto that depicts him shooting two refugees. The artwork, entitled La pacchia è finita! (The Free Ride is Over), is included in the exhibition ‘Virginem=Partena’ at the Nabi Interior Design gallery in Naples. Salvini has called for the removal of the work from display, while Scuotto has explained of his work that ‘I wanted to represent [Salvini] as a big boy who plays a video game populated by zombies’.

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