Art in Print

Museum of London given £180 million towards a new home


Plans for a new building to house the Museum of London have received a £180 million boost, it was announced today. The City of London Corporation has pledged to give £110 million and the Mayor of London’s office will be giving £70 million.

The news puts the £250 million project in West Smithfield’s disused market on track to open by 2022.

A blueprint for the new museum, which will display much of its collection in a series of underground chambers, was developed by architects Stanton Williams and Asif Khan after they won a competition to design the building. The plans, which are still to be finalised, also include a sunken garden and a well to the waters of the river Fleet, which runs under Farringdon. London Mayor, Sadiq Khan said: “I’m proud that this is the biggest ever cultural investment made by any mayor of London to date. The world’s greatest city deserves the world’s greatest museum.


Via Evening Standard


Boney steed mounted again after 200 years 

The 200-year-old skeleton of Napoleon’s horse Marengo has been pulled apart and reassembled to appear more like the steed depicted in Jacques-Louis David’s painting of the French emperor.

The Arabian stallion was captured on the battlefield of Waterloo in 1815 after Napoleon fled in defeat.

After the horse’s death, the skeleton was preserved and put on display in a “rather dull and lifeless pose”, according to the National Army Museum in Chelsea which is exhibiting his reformed skeleton.

Experts have spent two years taking the skeleton apart, to give the horse “much needed joie de vivre”. Jacques-Louis David’s Napoleon Crossing the Alps was painted between 1801 and 1805 and depicted the leader’s journey through the Great St Bernard Pass in May 1800 to retake parts of Italy from the Austrians.


Via The Times



Tate boss Sir Nicholas Serota and successor Maria Balshaw unite to defend teaching of arts in schools



Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota and his successor Maria Balshaw have joined forces to call for an end to “the erosion of the arts” in schools.

They have both backed a new report by the Cultural Learning Alliance which says changes to the national curriculum, qualifications and teacher training have damaged arts education.

“Every effort must be made to halt the erosion of the arts as an essential pillar in the structure of education.”

It includes research showing students from poor families who take part in the arts are more likely to get a degree, do voluntary work and vote. Sir Nicholas said creativity was “one of the essential ingredients of a rich and tolerant society and of personal and national identity. 

The Cultural Learning Alliance’s report was launched today at a reception at the House of Commons attended by Grayson Perry, Darcey Bussell and former arts minister Ed Vaizey.

Lord Puttnam, chairman of the alliance, said the report was “a wake-up call”, adding: “This demonstrates that the arts empower children, create a culture of citizenship and help them to achieve their true potential. “It is essential that access to arts is a right and not a privilege. There has been a decline in the number of children taking part in arts subjects in schools, a reduction in arts teaching hours, and fewer arts teachers employed in schools. 

“We have also recently announced that we’re investing more than £300m over the next four years to get more young people involved in music and the arts, ensuring opportunities are open to all, not just the privileged few.”


Via Evening Standard



Let there be light: Moses statue comes out of the gloom

A sculpture by Michelangelo that sits in a dim corner of a church in Rome has been given back its natural glow thanks to LED lamps that replicate the changing light of day. The dramatic effect, to show the biblical figure illuminated by the light of God, was snuffed out when the window was bricked up in the 1860s during the construction of a university building next door.

“Michelangelo created his sculpture around the idea of light, which was lost,” Antonio Forcellino, an art restorer who worked on the project, said.

“His turned head, and his relationship with God, was unexplained — until now.”

The restoration team unveiled the new LED lights yesterday. The brightness and colour change throughout the day, bathing the face of Moses in golden light in the late afternoon to imitate the setting sun whose light once entered the church.

The sculpture was commissioned in 1505, but its creator installed it 40 years later only after finishing his work on the Sistine Chapel. It forms part of a tomb for Pope Julius II, and is flanked by six other figures, including the pontiff.

Forcellino said that experts realised during recent restoration work how important light was to the artist. “At the time artists beat lead into thin sheets, warmed it and rubbed it on marble to make it shinier. Child’s urine, which contains an acid which helps the process, was also used, and I believe Michelangelo used it on Moses — given the effect he achieved,” Forcellino said. “It’s a level of sophistication we had forgotten about Michelangelo, and it’s a technique he took from his painting at the Sistine Chapel, where he used colours differently depending on how the light hit them.”


Via The Times