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This year’s Masterpiece London cancelled and Art Basel postponed

Plus: Further cases of Covid-19 at TEFAF emerge | Cleveland and Hammer among US museums to furlough staff | and Bristol Museum responds to restitution claim over Benin Bronze

26 March 2020

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Masterpiece London cancelled and Art Basel postponed | Two major international art fairs scheduled to take place in June are the latest events to have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Art Basel announced today that it will postpone its flagship fair in Switzerland until 17–20 September, with director Marc Spiegler adding that ‘we are aware of how dynamic the Covid-19 situation is and will continue to monitor the developments closely’. Masterpiece London, scheduled to run from 25 June–1 July, announced today that it is cancelling this year’s edition; managing director Lucie Kitchener stated that ‘the health of everyone involved in Masterpiece London is our absolute priority during these unprecedented times’.

Further cases of Covid-19 at TEFAF emerge | At least 25 exhibitors and visitors who attended TEFAF Maastricht earlier this month are thought to have tested positive for coronavirus, the Art Newspaper reports. This figure is based on interviews with participants of the fair, which opened as scheduled on 7 March and closed four days early on 11 March after an exhibitor was found to have contracted the disease; it had attracted around 28,500 visitors by this time. A TEFAF spokesperson has said that ‘at this point [the fair] cannot monitor numbers reliably, nor can we confirm when and where [people] have been in touch with coronavirus’.

Cleveland and Hammer among more US museums to furlough staff  | The Cleveland Museum of Art and the Hammer Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles, have each laid off part-time staff to preserve finances while temporarily shuttered. Cleveland has furloughed all part-time staff and is temporarily laying off some of its unionised staff, while the Hammer has laid off 150 part-time student employees. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles announced staff layoffs on Monday.

Bristol Museum responds to restitution claim over Benin Bronze sculpture | Bristol Museum & Art Gallery has announced that it is open for discussion with the Benin Dialogue Group about a bronze artefact looted from the court of Benin by Britain in 1897. The return of the sculpture, a bronze portrait bust of a royal, was requested by the Prince Edun Akenzua of the Royal Court of Benin during a BBC programme on 23 March.