Art Industry News: Britain’s Case for the Parthenon Marbles Failed to Convince Anyone at UNESCO + Other Stories

Plus, a new wave of unionization efforts hit U.S. museums, and the Studio Museum in Harlem makes a curatorial hire.

Sections of the Parthenon Marbles at the British Museum in London. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Sections of the Parthenon Marbles at the British Museum in London. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Art Industry News is 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, May 27.


Unionization Push Continues at U.S. Museums – Some 200 workers at the American Museum of National History have decided to unionize, with 85 percent voting in favor. The union will join the Local 1559 chapter of DC 37, New York’s largest union, which already represents 78 positions at the museum. On the opposite coast, staffers at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which opened last year, also announced their intention to form a union with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. (Hollywood ReporterHyperallergic)

How NFT Collectors Feel About the Value Plunge – The Washington Post checked in with NFT true believers amid a tumble in the market for the digital assets. (An NFT of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, bought for $2.9 million last year, failed to resell last month.) “Does it hurt? Of course,” said NFT collector Frank Chaparro. “You want what you have to go up, but think about all the things you enjoy having that really don’t have value but they say something about yourself.” (Washington Post)

Britain Bungles Parthenon Marbles Messaging – A senior British official dismissed their own government’s initiative to discuss the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles with the Greek culture minister, Lina Mendoni. Speaking at a UNESCO meeting in Paris, the U.K. delegate said the British government does not have the authority to determine the fate of the sculptures, shifting the responsibility onto the British Museum. Eighteen other countries participated in the discussion, all voicing support for the Greek claim. The Venezuelan delegate called on Britain to stop this “game of ping pong.” (The Art Newspaper)

Central Council of Jews’s President Speaks Out on Documenta – Joseph Schuster, president of the German Central Council of Jews, has spoken out about claims that the Documenta 15 program is anti-semitic (a claim the organizers deny). Talks about the issue were cancelled after it leaked to press that Schuster had raised his concerns with culture minister Claudia Roth. “Both the major cultural institutions and freelance artists have a responsibility to ensure that anti-semitism is outlawed even when it cloaks itself in criticism of Israel,” Schuster said. “I expect this to be especially true for arts and cultural events that receive federal funding.” (Welt)


GCC Launches Sustainable Shipping Campaign – The Gallery Climate Coalition has launched new campaign that offers sector-wide targets for sustainable art-shipping practices. By 2024, GCC is calling on freight companies to provide standardized emissions data so that clients can make informed decisions. (Press release)

Studio Museum Creates New Curatorial Position – Amber Esseiva has been named the inaugural curator-at-large of the Studio Museum in Harlem, where she will take on a number of roles including advising on acquisitions and exhibitions. Esseiva currently serves as curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University. (Press release)

Alice Walton Foundation Gifts $10 Million Endowment – The Walmart heiress’s foundation has established a $10 million endowment for the Crystal Bridges Museum to help develop the next generation of art leaders. The museum is partnering with Spelman College and Fisk University to recruit interns from underrepresented populations within the art leadership community. The gift will also fund the creation of a new administrative position dedicated to the internship program. (Press release)

FLAG Names Jonathan Rider as New Director – The FLAG Art Foundation established by Glenn Fuhrman has named Jonathan Rider, who previously served as artistic director, to lead the New York art organization. He will be the second director in FLAG’s nearly 15-year history, succeeding Stephanie Roach, who stepped down in 2021. (Press release


Wallace Foundation Names First Grantees for $100 Million Initiative – Eighteen U.S. arts organizations working with or representing communities of color will participate in a new five-year initiative designed to promote equity in the arts. Each project will receive funding of between $900,000 and $3.75 million. Selected organizations include Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico and the Laundromat Project in Brooklyn, New York. (Press release)

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