Art Industry News: You Can Watch the Largest and Most Complex Public Art Restoration Ever Live Online + Other Stories

Plus, the British Museum launches its first LGBTQ tour and France retreats from its radical restitution report.

Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits inspects Rembrandt's The Night Watch (1642). Photo: courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Art Industry News is normally a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know this Friday, July 5.


The British Museum Launches Its First LGBTQ+ Tour – The British Museum has launched volunteer-guided tours of artifacts on view that represent LGBTQ+ history. The tours include the “holy grail” of gay history, a Roman vessel known as the Warren Cup that depicts two men having sex. London’s Victoria & Albert Museum already offers a guided tour of works in its collection depicting same-sex and gender-fluid relationships. (Guardian)

Tania Bruguera Plans an Investigative Journalism Initiative – The Cuban artist and activist plans to launch a new initiative to promote investigative journalism in her home country at a time when the government is clamping down on freedom of expression. She hopes to launch prizes for the discipline at her Institute of Artivism Hannah Arendt, which opened in 2016. “Journalists in Cuba are not familiar with investigative journalism so we are adding to the prize an educational component where we bring in international investigative journalists to give workshops,” she says. (The Art Newspaper)

The Painstaking Restoration of Night Watch Begins – The largest and most elaborate public art restoration ever undertaken begins on Monday, when the doors of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum open to reveal the ongoing conservation of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. The process—performed in front of the public by a team of 12 experts in a glass chamber and livestreamed for the world to see online—has been dubbed “Operation Night Watch” by the museum. “It is like a military operation in the planning,” said Taco Dibbits, the museum’s director. (Guardian)

France Retreats From Radical Restitution Report – The country appears to be retreating from the controversial Savoy-Sarr report released last year, which recommended the unconditional return of African cultural heritage from French state museums. At a recent conference in Paris, France’s culture minister Franck Riester pledged only that “France will examine all requests presented by African nations”—but asked them not to “focus on the sole issue of restitution.” (TAN)


Château de Versailles Buys Back a €4 Million Chest of Drawers – A resplendent royal commode that Louis XV commissioned for his daughter from the most famous cabinet-maker of the time, Bernard II van Risenburgh, has been returned to Versailles by an anonymous American collector. The intricate chest sparked a wave of controversy when it showed up in a sale in New York after leaving France unnoticed in 1981. (TAN)

Why Borrowing Against Art Is a Growing Trend – The number of collectors leveraging money against artworks is on the rise. Industry insiders say lending against works of art has grown at a double-digit rate since 2017. That year, the accounting firm Deloitte estimated that the outstanding value of loans against art in America had reached $17 billion to 20 billion—a 13 percent increase from the previous year. (Economist)


Jerwood Prize Winners Announced – Artists Guy Oliver and Reman Sadani have won £25,000 ($31,000) each as recipients of the Jerwood/FVU Awards 2020. They will each develop significant new films responding to this year’s theme—hindsight—that will be shown from March 31 to May 31, 2020 at the Jerwood Space in London. (Press release)

Curator of TarraWarra Biennial Announced – The TarraWarra Museum of Art has appointed the Sydney-based curator Nina Miall to organize the 7th TarraWarra Biennial. The exhibition opens in August 2020 in the Australian town of TarraWarra. (Art Asia Pacific)

Leon Kossoff Dies at 92 – The British painter, best known for his lyrical paintings of London’s churches, underground stations, gardens, and inhabitants, died on July 4 after a short illness. He represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1995 and was known as one of the key figures of the School of London alongside Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and Frank Auerbach. (Press release)


Top Museum Directors Decry the Soaring Cost of Popularity – Top museum directors gathered at the Prado in Madrid to discuss the challenges facing big museums, including the rising cost of blockbuster shows and overcrowded galleries. Eike Schmidt, the outgoing director of the Uffizi in Florence, doesn’t think blockbuster exhibitions should tour the world like “rock stars.” Philipp Demandt, the director of the Städel in Frankfurt, revealed that it will cost around $95,000 to insure a single painting by Van Gogh. (ABC)

Berlin’s Humboldt Forum Will Cost an Extra €6 Million – Delays in the construction of the controversial Humboldt Forum, a major museum underway in Berlin that is fashioned after a Prussian palace, will cost an additional €6 million ($6.7 million). The ambitious project has already been estimated to cost around €32 million ($36 million), and the opening date has been pushed back from this fall to September 2020. (Monopol)

Thousands Gather to Make Noise for Peace With Yoko Ono – People gathered in droves to ring bells in unison for Yoko Ono’s “Bells For Peace” celebration last night in Manchester ahead of the Manchester International Festival, which runs through July 21. The artist and musician called on the crowd of thousands to make noise for peace and to create “an incredible vibration.” Earplugs were kindly provided. (BBC)

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