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UNESCO director general: protection of cultural heritage a ‘humanitarian imperative’

Plus: Barbara Hepworth works raise £2.2 million for school | Franz West Private Foundation accused of embezzlement | Science Museum reveals plan for new interactive gallery | Angela Vettese named director of Arte Fiera | and recommended reading: Tate Modern past & present

15 June 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Irina Bokova: Destruction of heritage ‘inseparable from the persecution of people’ | UNESCO director general Irina Bokova has spoken out against attacks on cultural heritage, opining that the protection of sites of cultural significance is in itself a ‘humanitarian imperative’. ‘The destruction of heritage is inseparable from the persecution of people,’ Bokova said at a lecture in The Hague on Monday. ‘This is why we consider the protection of cultural heritage today as far more than a cultural issue. This has become a humanitarian imperative, and a security issue.’ Bokova’s sentiments come in the wake of last week’s news that terror group ISIS had blown up further ancient sites in Iraq and threatened the Pyramids in Egypt.

Barbara Hepworth works raise £2.2 million for school | Wakefield girls’ high school has sold two sculptures by its most famous alumnus, Barbara Hepworth, bringing in more than £2.2 million at Sotheby’s on Monday. Forms in Movement (Galliard) and Quiet Form, were acquired by the school in 1959 and 1973 respectively. The money from the sale will help the fee-paying school establish bursaries. However, certain voices have criticised the school for allowing the sculptures to leave Wakefield. ‘It is disappointing that the school chose not to work with the iconic Barbara Hepworth Gallery in the city to keep [the sculptures] safe for future generations to enjoy,’ said local MP Mary Creagh.

Franz West Private Foundation accused of embezzlement | The higher regional court of Vienna has ordered the dismissal of three board members of the Franz West Private Foundation for allegedly paying themselves over-generous salaries. According to Der Standard (German language article, via Artforum), the board members in question awarded themselves €500,000 over five months in 2012 and more than €800,000 in 2013. The court’s decision is not final, but it has ruled that the payments were not in the interests of the Foundation.

Science Museum reveals plan for new interactive gallery | London’s Science Museum has announced that it plans to launch ‘Wonderlab’, a gallery containing immersive experiences, interactive exhibits and live demonstrations. The £6 million gallery, which is set to open in October, will experiment with a new funding model, by which a family of four will be able to visit an unlimited number of times for £39.

Angela Vettese named director of Arte Fiera | Journalist and critic Angela Vettese has been appointed director of Bologna’s annual Arte Fiera contemporary art fair, replacing Giorgio Verzotti and Claudio Spadoni. This year will represent the fair’s 40th edition.

Recommended reading: Tate Modern past & present | With the excitement around the opening of Herzog & de Meuron’s ‘Switch House’ extension to Tate Modern this week, it’s easy to forget that the Swiss architects weren’t always the only gang in town. The Art Newspaper has a fascinating piece on the rival designs that didn’t make the cut for the Bankside museum. As for the critics’ reaction to the new exhibition space, most are keen. The Evening Standards Matthew Collings describes the display as ‘an impressively rich and interesting story’, while the Guardians Adrian Searle thinks that ‘the building is as much a player as the art.’ The Daily Telegraph’s Mark Hudson, however, is torn: it is ‘infuriating and exhilarating in equal measure.’

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