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UK government proposes creating tax-free zones after leaving the EU

Plus: medieval bridge dismantled in Belgium despite protests | Baltimore Museum of Art pledges year of exhibitions dedicated to women artists | and 16th-century painting back on display at London’s National Gallery after seven-year conservation project

2 August 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

UK government proposes creating ten tax-free zones after leaving the EU | Liz Truss, the UK government’s new International Trade Secretary, has announced that the country could create as many as ten Singapore-style tax-free zones across Britain’s coasts after it leaves the European Union. These ‘free ports’, which were praised by Boris Johnson after his appointment as prime minister last week, are often used to store high-value items such as artworks and antiques. Last year the European parliament criticised free ports for facilitating money-laundering and tax evasion, and today the move from Truss received criticism from the opposition, with Labour MP Owen Smith warning that these zones will create a boom in ‘self-storage for art thieves’.

Medieval bridge dismantled in Belgium despite protests | Dismantling work on the gothic Pont des Trous (or “Bridge of Holes”) in Tournai, Belgium, started this morning, amongst scathing criticism from a minister in the federal government and local protests. The bridge, built between 1281 and 1304, and one of only three remaining 13th-century military bridges worldwide, is being knocked down to make way for a new bridge that will accommodate larger boats. Opposition to the dismantling has gained momentum over the last few years, with a petition garnering over 200,000 signatures and support from French broadcaster Stéphane Bern.

Baltimore Museum of Art to hold a year of exhibitions of women artists | The Baltimore Museum of Art announced yesterday that it will be programming a year of exhibitions centring on women artists. The initiative, titled 2020 Vision, will commence in October with a show dedicated to Georgia O’Keefe, Maria Martinez, Grace Hartigan, and other women who shaped early 20th-century visual art. Christopher Bedford, the museum’s director, explained that ‘the goal for this effort is to rebalance the scales and to acknowledge the ways in which women’s contributions still do not receive the scholarly examination, dialogue and public acclaim that they deserve’.

Sixteenth-century painting back on display at London’s National Gallery after seven-year conservation project | A 16th-century Italian altarpiece returned to the public space of the National Gallery today after a seven-year conservation project; one of the longest in the London museum’s 195-year history. The Virgin and Child with Saints, which was painted between 1500 and 1505 by Giovanni Martini da Udine, was acquired by the museum in 1867, but was never displayed in the main collection due to its poor condition. A decision to restore the 2.5-metre high painting was made in 2011, with a complex, multifaceted scheme headed by conservator Britta New.

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