Art Industry News: Documents Reveal the U.K. Government Could Return the Parthenon Marbles ‘If We Wanted’ + Other Stories

Plus, Egypt has reopened its grand avenue of Sphinxes and Lithuania's climate change opera is headed to London.

Visitors pose in front of the British Museum's Parthenon Marbles in 2017. Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images Image.
Visitors pose in front of the British Museum's Parthenon Marbles in 2017. Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images Image.

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 on this Friday, November 26.


Egypt Reopens Sacred Avenue of Sphinxes – Egypt has reopened its 3,000-year-old Avenue of the Sphinxes, a sacred road lined with more than 1,000 statues that was once used as a parade route for the gods. The avenue walkway was being excavated between 1984 and 2000, and finally reopened on Thursday with a grand ceremony re-enacting an ancient holiday. (Daily Mail)

Archaeologists Stumble on Ancient Egyptian Trash Pile – Archaeologists excavating a temple in Luxor have unconvered an ancient trash heap filled with offerings to the goddess Hathor where they believe the temple caretakers discarded them becasue they were so numerous. Hathor is the goddess of love and fertility, and the trove of objects includes cups and plates as well as figurines. (Daily Mail)

Turns Out the U.K. Just Doesn’t Want to Return the Parthenon Marbles – Documents newly made public detailing a 1991 visit to Greece by the U.K.’s then arts minister Timothy Renton cast doubt on the U.K.’s stance on repatriating the parthenon marbles. While the U.K. has often leaned on a 1963 Act of Parliament it says prohibits the British Museum’s trustees from deaccessioning works from the collection, the recently declassified document includes a line from the then-U.K. ambasador, who wrote: “The Greeks know that we could legislate [to allow deaccessioning] if we wanted: the problem for them is that we don’t want [to].” (The Art Newspaper)

The Netherlands Considers Barring Unvaccinated From Museums – The Netherlands has proposed new Covid-19 restrictions that would bar unvaccinated people from some public indoor spaces including museums as part of its efforts to curb the spread of the virus. Officials hope to exclude a recent negative test as eligibility criteria for its Pass System and will debate the matter next week. (Newsweek)


Jacqueline Poncelet Wins Freelands Award – Freelands Foundation has named Jacqueline Poncelet and MIMA Middlesbrough as the recipients of its annual £100,000 prize, which enables an institution outside of London to hold a solo exhibition of a mid-career woman artist. MIMA will present a survey of Poncelet’s work opening on March 7. (Press release)

Ragna Bley Joins Pilar Corrias – Pilar Corrias has added the Oslo-based artist Ragna Bley to its roster. Bley, who works across painting, sculpture, text, and performance, will have a solo exhibition at Pilar Corrias Eastcastle Street in summer 2022. (Press release)

Lithuanian Pavilion Is Coming to London – The climate opera that won the Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, Sun & Sea (Marina), is headed to the London borough of Lewisham next year as part of its program as Borough of Culture. The theatre will be transformed into a beach with 10 tonnes to sand for the theatrical installation, which will be on view at the Albany Theater from June 23 through July 10. (Evening Standard)


Yoko Ono Raises Funds for Whitechapel Gallery – Artist Yoko Ono has released a limited edition work to raise funds for London’s Whitechapel Gallery. There are 100 editions of the work priced at £175. Called Mend Piece for John, it consists of a broken ceramic cup, and the owner is invited to use some enclosed glue to stick it back together, while thinking about “mending the world.” (Evening Standard)

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