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Vatican closes St Peter’s Square to contain Covid-19

Plus: French culture minister tests positive for Covid-19 | Shell ends relationship with Southbank Centre | Security guards investigated over jewellery theft at Dresden’s Royal Palace | and Pam Masi named interim executive director of Erie Art Museum

10 March 2020

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Vatican closes St Peter’s Square to contain Covid-19 | It was announced today that St Peter’s Basilica and Square have been closed to tourists and guided tours, with no plans to reopen until 3 April at the earliest. The Vatican supermarket and pharmacy will remain open but will restrict the number of visitors permitted inside at one time while the offices of the Holy See and Vatican City State will receive meals by delivery. Individuals will be permitted to enter the basilica to pray.

French culture minister tests positive for Covid-19 | The French culture minister Franck Riester has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, it was announced yesterday evening. Five French MPs have so far been known to contract the virus. Plans for Riester to meet with arts representatives today to discuss the response of the sector to the growing outbreak following France’s new restriction on gatherings of over 1,000 people have been called off, as the minister rests at home. 

Shell ends relationship with Southbank Centre | Shell will not renew its corporate membership deal with the Southbank Centre, which expires this year, putting an end to a 14-year relationship that began in 2006. Spokespeople for both Shell and the Southbank Centre have confirmed that the decision was mutually agreed on by all parties last year. The British Film Institute has also agreed not to renew its deal with Shell, following in the footsteps of the National Galleries Scotland, National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company, who all severed ties with the oil company in 2019.

Security guards investigated over jewellery theft at Dresden’s Royal Palace | Four security guards are being investigated as suspects in the theft, in the early hours of 25 November last year, of three sets of 18th-century jewellery stored in the Green Vault at Dresden’s Royal Palace. Investigators believe that the heist was probably carried out with the cooperation of insiders, and do not believe that the two security guards on duty at the time of the heist made reasonable efforts to prevent the crime. The two other security guards are accused of providing the thieves with a layout of the vault and interfering with the alarm system.

Pam Masi named interim executive director of Erie Art Museum | Pam Masi has been named the interim executive director of Erie Art Museum in Erie, Pennsylvania. Masi, who has spent the past 12 years as executive director of the NWPA Red Cross, replaces Joshua Helmer, who stepped down in January after an article in the New York Times published multiple allegations of sexual misconduct said to have taken place at Erie and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Helmer worked previously. Masi assumes the role in early April. 

Lead image: used under Creative Commons licence (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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