Nicholas Cullinan to Lead British Museum—And More


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THE HEADLINES

NEW BRITISH MUSEUM LEADER. Nicholas Cullinan has been appointed the new director of the British Museum in London, following the resignation of former director Hartwig Fischer, who stepped down in the wake of a massive theft from the museum collection, which the institution alleges was committed by its former curator. Cullinan is currently the director of the National Portrait Gallery, and in his new role he will also have to address wide-ranging challenges related to calls for the return of the Parthenon Marble to Greece, as well as governance problems.

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Curving sculptures formed from steel in a gallery.

MUSEUM STRIKES. In museum worker news, union-members are flexing their muscles when it comes to demanding better job conditions, with one institution’s staff going on strike, and another reaching a wage agreement. Over 400 workers at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) went on strike Tuesday over low wages and protections against subcontracting to part-time employees. As a result, the museum has been closed since. Meanwhile, employees at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) have ended a strike after reaching an agreement with the administration. Union members voted in favor of a raise in minimum wages and improved working conditions.

THE DIGEST

Inigo Philbrick, an art dealer who pleaded guilty to a $86 million fraud, has been freed from prison after serving nearly four years of his seven-year sentence. [The Art Newspaper and Vanity Fair]

Harvard University announced it has removed a controversial human-skin binding from a 19th century book in its library, and was determining “a final respectful disposition of these human remains.” Des destinées de L’Ame (The Destiny of Souls) by Arsène Houssaye, was bound by the remains of an unknown woman who died in a French psychiatric hospital. The book has long been the subject of morbid sensationalism, but the school now says it doesn’t belong in their collection due to ethical concerns. [The New York Times]

Lauren Haynes will become the new head curator and vice president of arts and culture for the Trust for Governors Island in New York Harbor. [The New York Times]

Researchers from the West Norfolk and King’s Lynn Archaeological Society (WNKLAS) are conducting a new study to find the lost treasure of King John, who ascended to England’s throne in 1199. The king was said to have lost a baggage train containing the English Crown Jewels in tidal estuaries that would be located near today’s Walpole Marsh in the Fenlands. [Heritage Daily]

The Taipei Biennial announced Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath will curate its 14th edition opening in November. [Art Review]

Saudi Arabia will no longer be permitted to set up a four-month-long “Saudi village” during the Paris Olympics on the lawns surrounding the city’s Invalides monument and military museum, which houses Napoleon’s tomb. The controversial Saudi pavilion was reportedly meant to showcase the country’s “cultural activities,” and in exchange for the real estate, had offered an undisclosed, “generous” sum to the museum. France’s defense ministry said reasons for the cancellation had to do with a “lack of response” from the Saudi representatives. [Le Parisien]

THE KICKER

OLYMPIC HISTORY. A new exhibit about the social and geopolitical history of the Olympic Games opens in Paris’ Memorial de la Shoah tomorrow, and demonstrates how “sport is never just sport,” per the show’s co-curator Caroline Francois, speaking to The Guardian. The same can certainly be said of art. From Nazi propaganda during the 1936 Berlin games to athletes expelled from the Mexico City games in 1968 for their Black Power salute, the show makes for timely prep ahead of the upcoming Paris Olympics, held amid the backdrop of wars in Ukraine and the Middle East. “The world’s biggest sporting event has at times been exploited by totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, and at others raised serious questions about race, discrimination, colonialism, sexism,” writes Angelique Chrisafis.

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