Briefing

Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art announces major expansion plans; Hepworth Wakefield named UK museum of the year

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Rendering of the proposed Hotel Mona (Homo). Courtesy: The Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart

Rendering of the proposed Hotel Mona (Homo). Courtesy: The Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart

Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) in Tasmania has announced plans for a major expansion, including a new on-site hotel, a three-storey public library, a 1,075-seat theatre, an outdoor stage and extra gallery space. Named ‘Homo’, an acronym of Hotel Mona, the 172-room, five-star hotel is set to be built on the museum’s current site in Berriedale featuring ‘special experience’ rooms developed with artists and what its website calls ‘an extremely expensive spa’. Opened in 2011 by multimillionaire gambler and collector David Walsh, Mona — which is built into the side of a cliff with three subterranean levels — was designed by architects Fender Katsalidis who are also responsible for the planned expansion. Walsh commented: ‘I liked building a museum that was in a sense critical of the museum industry … a piece of commentary. Now I am what I used to criticise.’ If approved the project is set to cost more than AUS$300 million and completed in 2022.

The Hepworth Wakefield has been named the 2017 Art Fund UK museum of the year receiving GBP£100,000 in prize money. Judges hailed the success of the gallery’s inaugural Hepworth prize for sculpture in 2016, which was won by Helen Marten, and the strength of the exhibition programme including a Stanley Spencer retrospective and a show by photographer Martin Parr. Opened in 2011 the gallery is housed in a David Chipperfield-designed concrete building on the banks of the river Calder in Yorkshire. Stephen Deuchar, the Art Fund director who chaired the judging panel, said it was ‘the museum everyone would dream of having on their doorstep.’ For the first time, each of the other shortlisted museums will receive GBP£10,000. They are Tate Modern, which last year opened its GBP£260m 10-storey extension the Switch House; Sir John Soane’s Museum in London; the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in Newmarket; and Lapworth Museum of Geology in Birmingham.

Turkey has lodged a protest against an art work installed in front of the German Chancellery in Berlin that portrays Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a dictator, claiming it ‘makes a direct call to violence.’ The installation features a black Mercedes draped with a banner printed with pictures of Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz and emblazoned with the phrase ‘Do you want this car? Kill dictatorship’. The work is by art collective Center for Political Beauty led by Phillip Ruch, which is responsible for several stunts in the past including displaying four tigers in the centre of Berlin to protest refugee policies. Critics of Erdoğan accuse him of acting like a despot, citing the purge of thousands of state officials and the arrests of journalists following a failed coup last July. The Turkish protest came a day after the German government urged Erdoğan to respect its request that he not address Turks living in Germany when he attends this week's G20 summit in Hamburg.

In the latest tightening of censorship in China, new regulations issued by Bejing prohibit portrayals of homosexuality, prostitution and drug addiction online. The China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) is targeting what it considers ‘abnormal’ sexual activity. The rules which were issued on Friday demand that online video platforms hire at least three ‘professional censors’ to view entire programmes and take down any considered not sticking to the ‘correct political and aesthetic standards.’ The move follows new cyber security laws implemented in June promting authorities to target celebrity gossip on social media platforms WeChat and Weibo. Sixty accounts were closed down, including that of the popular film blog Dushe Dianying. Younger users of social media platforms ‘are feeling nervous for the first time’, says Xu Wenkai, a Shanghai- and Berlin-based media artist and blogger who goes by the name Aaajiao.

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