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UK Government Launches Scheme to Protect Iraqi Heritage

28 October 2015

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

DCMS Unveils New Scheme to Protect Cultural Sites | UK Culture Secretary John Whittingdale has backed a £3m scheme to ‘assess, document and stabilise’ cultural sites that have come under threat in Iraq. According to Whittingdale, many heritage sites are being used as weapons depots for militant groups in the region. The Iraqi Emergency Heritage Management Project will be overseen by the British Museum for five years. For more information about the risks facing cultural property in war zones, read Peter Stone’s Inquiry for Apollo.

Moscow Gallery Owner Evicted Following Benefit for Political Prisoners | After holding a benefit auction for Russian prisoners of conscience at his Vinzavod gallery earlier this month, art dealer Marat Gelman has been served an eviction notice by local authorities, reports the Moscow Times. Whether or not the two events are linked is not entirely clear, but the Russian state’s attitude to art world figures who go off-message has been anything but encouraging of late.

‘Illicit’ Artefacts from Iraq may be Destined for DC Bible Museum | The FBI is investigating claims that looted artefacts from the Middle East may have found their way into the collection of Museum of the Bible founder Steve Green, reports the Daily Beast. Green denies any wrongdoing, but admits it is ‘possible’ that ‘illicit’ artefacts may be among the works his family owns. The museum is scheduled to open in Washington DC in 2017.

Heritage Experts Criticise Night Illuminations at Taj Mahal | India’s cultural heritage is being befouled – quite literally. Experts from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have warned that nocturnal illuminations around Agra’s Taj Mahal palace could be putting the famous Mughal mausoleum at risk. According to ASI, the light attracts swarms of insects, whose excreta leads to pigment deposition on the structure’s brilliant white marble.

Boris Johnson Calls for New Artists’ Spaces | London mayor Boris Johnson has called on property developers to allocate space for artists’ studios and cultural spaces in new buildings, reports The Art Newspaper. As artists are priced out of the city centre by rising rents, Johnson’s call seems timely. However, critics have been quick to point out that the mayor himself has played no small part in creating the current problem.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Names New Director | Peggy Fogelman is to take over from Anne Hawley as director of Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, reports the Boston Globe. Fogelman, who is currently director of collections at New York’s Morgan Library, is noted for her ‘interdisciplinary approach’, but filling Hawley’s shoes nonetheless represents a daunting task.

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