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UNESCO condemns shelling of National Museum of Aleppo

18 July 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

UNESCO condemns damage to National Museum of Aleppo | UNESCO director Irina Bokova has condemned a recent series of artillery bombardments at the National Museum of Aleppo, describing them as a ‘new blow to the heritage and history of all Syrians’ and urging all factions to ‘keep cultural heritage out of the conflict.’ The ancient city of Aleppo, which has suffered irreparable damage in the course of Syria’s six-year civil war, is classified as one of six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. Mortar shells reportedly hit the city’s most important museum last week. UNESCO, which has also recently placed five World Heritage sites in Libya on its List of World Heritage in Danger, has made clear that it condemns damage inflicted on Syria’s heritage sites by all parties involved in the conflict.

Arts Council England announces changes to museum funding | Arts Council England has announced what the Museums Association describes as a ‘radical shake-up’ to museum funding, which will come into effect from 2018. As part of the restructuring all Arts Council funding is to be incorporated into three funding streams: National Portfolio Organisations, Grants for the Arts and Culture, and strategic funding programmes. ‘There will be the potential for smaller museums to apply for funding,’ said ACE director of museums John Orna-Ornstein. ’It means a broader range can be part of our portfolio.’ A full guide to details for prospective NPO applicants will be published in October along with more information about strategic funds and Grants for the Arts and Culture.

Ed Vaizey removed from role as UK culture minister | West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has taken over as UK minister of state for digital policy and culture, replacing Ed Vaizey, who held the role of minister for culture, communications and creative industries for more than six years. Hancock, who was elected to parliament in 2010, has previously served in the department of energy and also in the department for business, industry and skills.

Redundancies at the Met ‘could exceed 100’ | The Metropolitan Museum of Art may seek further cuts as part of its drive to reduce its deficit by $30 million, reports the New York Times. The museum says that around 50 employees have taken voluntary redundancy since the cutbacks were announced, but it will continue searching for savings in its core departments, with 100 jobs now at risk. Curatorial and conservation positions are likely to remain relatively secure, with a cull of around 5 per cent, but administrative positions may be cut back by up to 15–20 per cent.

Louise Hearman wins Archibald Prize for Barry Humphries portrait | Artist Louise Hearman has won the Archibald Prize for portrait painting with a likeness of the comedian and actor Barry Humphries. Since it was established in 1921, the AUS$100,000 award has become regarded as Australia’s most prestigious prize for portraiture, and is hosted annually at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. ‘Louise Hearman’s portrait took centre-stage in the end,’ said Mark Nelson, vice president of the trustees of the AGNSW. ‘It stood out as a portrait that truly captured the spirit of the sitter – she has caught Barry’s sardonic smile brilliantly.’

Damien Hirst formaldehyde works ‘not harmful’ | After speculation that Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde works of the 1990s may be leaking toxic emissions, tests have confirmed that the sculptures are safe after all. According to The Art Newspaper, the University of Milan’s Pier Giorgio Righetti who conducted the original study earlier this year has retracted his earlier report, describing it as ‘inaccurate and unreliable’.