1. Italy Pledges €1 billion to Cultural Heritage
The Italian government will be allocating €1 billion ($1.14 billion) toward cultural restoration and building projects at 33 museums, monuments and archaeological sites throughout the country.
What the country’s culture minister described as the “biggest investment in cultural heritage” in Italy’s history will give €30 million to the city of L’Aquila, which was damaged by earthquakes in 2009, €40 million to expand Milan’s Pinacoteca di Brera, €40 million for renovations to Florence’s Uffizi Gallery. The plan also promises to allocate and €40 million to preserve archeological sites in Pompeii. Two Naples museums — the National Archaeological Museum of Napes and the Capodimonte Museum — will also be receiving €20 million and €30 million, respectively.
2. Armory Show Rethinks its Fair Approach
In its 2017 edition, New York’s Armory Show will restructure the ways in which it presents art on display and engages with visitors.
The fair will merge its modern and contemporary sections, transform the former modern section into a new grouping that will feature solo, two-person or themed shows of 20th century art (entitled “Insights”) and introduce a new curatorial initiative — “Platform” — which will focus on large-scale, installation and performance pieces. Benjamin Genocchio, the fair’s executive director, explained: “We want to be much more than a platform for the commercial, we want to play a greater intellectual role in the artistic life of New York, expanding our talks, programs, performances, and commissioning of new artworks.” The announcement comes amid widespread changes in how art fairs engage with their audience — with Frieze recently entering into a partnership with agency management and Art Basel beginning an urban development program.
3. Ai Weiwei Making Documentary on Refugee Crisis
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will be exploring cinematic media as he makes his first ever feature length film: a documentary on the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe.
Weiwei is working with a professional film crew for the first time and with them has already documented refugees arriving in Turkey and Europe. Traveling against the flow of people arriving in Europe, the artist and his crew has also visited the Middle East, filming migrant camps in Jordan and Lebanon, which house thousands of Syrian refugees. The documentary will only be the latest effort Weiwei has made to raise awareness about the plight of refugees. After visiting the Greek island of Lesbos (a central access point for migrants arriving in Europe) in late 2015, Weiwei has since moved his studio to the island, created many works of art across Europe drawing attention to the humanitarian crisis and used his own social media channels as a means of documenting the plight of migrants and refugees.
4. MoMA Announces Buyout Program
A week after the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it would be initiating a buyout program to downsize its staff, the Museum of Modern Art has stated that it will be following suit.
MoMA has offered buyouts to employees who are 55 year old or older and have worked at the institution for at least nine years as of July 31. In an official statement, the museum explained that upcoming renovations and construction would curb the amount of staff necessary: “The museum is in a transitional stage in terms of the scope of its operations, which are at a reduced level during the renovation period. The program is entirely voluntary and is intended to benefit staff who are considering retirement this year.”
5. François Pinault Announces New Private Museum
French billionaire art collector François Pinault has announced that he will open a new museum in Paris to showcase his own collection and curate contemporary art shows.
The museum will be housed in a former commodities exchange building from the 18th century. Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who designed the Palazzo Grassi museum in Venice that Pinault opened in 2006, will oversee renovations to the building. The museum will be the realization of a longtime dream for Pinault: “I have long nurtured the dream of an international network, based in Europe, where works, projects, ideas and views could be exchanged. With this new site, my dream is on the way to becoming reality,” he stated. Turning 80 this summer, Pinault is entering the project alongside his children, “in order to ensure continuity,” ensuring that the museum and his vision will be maintained for decades to come.