The week in the art news – German Minister of Culture calls for a national strategy on Benin bronzes
German Culture Minister Monika Grütters called a meeting of museums and states next month to form “a national strategy” regarding Benin bronzes held by German museums. The announcement comes after a recent meeting between representatives of the German Ministry of Culture and Nigerian officials in Benin City, which raised hopes for the restitution of the bronzes. Grütters, reports the Art journal, declared that such a strategy “should of course include restitutions, in a common dialogue with the communities of origin”. In developments in the UK, the University of Aberdeen announced that it was returning the Benin Bronze which had been in its possession since 1957.
The M + Museum is unlikely to display Ai Weiwei’s photograph Perspective Study – Tiananmen Square when the museum finally opens in Hong Kong later this year. The institution intends to comply, the president of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority told the South China Morning Post, along with the National Security Law that mainland China imposed on Hong Kong last year. After a recent press preview of the museum, a complaint was lodged with the police concerning works including those of Ai Weiwei; Carrie Lam, chief executive of Hong Kong, said authorities would be on “full alert” for any breach of security law, which prohibits acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers or external forces.
The Canadian Philanthropist Donald R. Sobey died at the age of 86. Sobey chaired the Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Canada from 2002 to 2008; he then became a founding member of the museum’s board of directors, on which he served until last year. During this time, Sobey supported important acquisitions for the museum, including works by Peter Doig and Louise Bourgeois. Through the foundation, he also sponsored the Sobey Art Award for Canadian Artists, which comes with one of the largest cash prizes in the world.
The Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London was renamed Serpentine North, in a move the institution describes as part of a “rebranding process”. A brief statement provided by the Serpentine to Apollo makes no mention of the abandonment of the Sackler name and refers only to “new guiding terminology” to help visitors distinguish its two galleries. The Serpentine’s second site in Kensington Gardens opened in 2013 and was named in recognition of a £ 5.5million donation from the Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation.
Nicolas Bourriaud was dismissed from his post as director of Montpellier Contemporain, the museum opened in 2019 with Bourriaud at the helm. The recently elected mayor of Montpellier, Michaël Delafosse, had already criticized the importance of the museum’s annual budget (6 million euros, allocated by the former mayor Philippe Saurel) and the “elitism” of its exhibition program. Conservative Numa Hambursin was named Bourriaud’s successor, although he failed to secure the required two-thirds majority in a board meeting earlier this week.