‘There Is No Excuse’: Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum in Discussions to Return Looted Colonial Art

In further news: V&A Dundee’s architect to design new museum in Turkey, and students protest tuition fee hike at CalArts

Cannon, anonymous, c.1745. Courtesy: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Cannon, anonymous, c.1745. Courtesy: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is in talks with representatives from Sri Lanka and Indonesia about returning ten objects to their place of origin, in a move described as ‘pioneering’. The objects, taken during Dutch colonial and military campaigns, are likely to include a diamond believed to have belonged to the Sultan Panembahan Adam of Banjarmasin as well as a ruby-encrusted cannon. The Rijksmuseum is thought to hold around 1000 stolen artefacts. The museum’s director, Taco Dibbets said in an interview with Dutch newspaper De Trouw: ‘It’s a disgrace that the Netherlands is only now turning its attention to the return of the colonial heritage. We should have done it earlier and there is no excuse.’

The architect behind the V&A Dundee, Kengo Kuma, will design a new museum in Turkey in June, it was announced in The Art Newspaper. The museum, named The Odunpazari Modern Museum (OMM) after a historic wood market district will open in the ancient city Eskişehir. Recalling the Dundee gallery, the museum will be constructed of interlocking stacked wooden beams, in an homage to surrounding wooden houses from the Ottoman era. The museum will exhibit Turkish and international Modern and contemporary artworks taken from the collection of Erol Tabanca, the founder of a prominent Turkish construction company.

Students at CalArts have staged a protest at Hauser & Wirth Gallery in Los Angeles after it was announced that tuition fees will be raised 4.5%, taking them over US$50,000 for the first time in the school’s history. CalArts board of trustees, which includes Hauser & Wirth co-founder Iwan Wirth, were holding a meeting inside the gallery while the protests took place. Students held signs reading ‘You are nothing without us’ and ‘stop raising tuition, stop oppressing students’. CalArts chair, Tim Disney addressed the protesters, informing them of a plan to improve financial aid, but also announced that there was no guarantee that tuition wouldn’t increase further. A note on CalArts website states that ‘tuition and fees are likely to increase between 2–4% each year.’

In prizes, appointments and gallery news: Leonor Antunes will represent Portugal at the 2019 Venice Biennale; LA’s Kohn Gallery now represents Maria Berrio and her solo show will open in June; Bortolami has added Mary Obering to their artist roster; Liu Ye will now be represented by David Zwirner; Sheela Gowda has won the 2019 Maria Lassnig prize; the Cleveland Museum of Art has appointed Emily Liebert as Curator of Contemporary Art and the Gwangju Biennale has named Defne Ayas and Natasha Ginwala as their Artistic Directors.

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