Cuts, closures and threats to cultural institutions in Berlin and Paris

Every time I check my email or Twitter at the moment it seems there is yet more sad news about proposed cuts and closures in the museum and cultural heritage sector. This is just a brief post about two particularly distressing situations in Europe, one in Germany and one in France/Netherlands, and the actions being taken to prevent them.

Titian, Self-Portrait, 1550 (Gemäldegarie, Berlin)

Gemäldegalerie, Berlin
The proposal here is to empty the Gemäldegalerie of Old Masters to make way for twentieth-century art from the Pietzsch collection, without finding an alternative forum for displaying one of the world’s foremost collections of Old Masters. Professor Jeffrey Hamburger (Harvard University) has been actively leading the charge against this proposal with a petition signed by over 12,000 so far. Many people signing the petition have left moving testimonials about the collection – not just its importance as a cultural institution of international significance, but also its role in forming people’s personal experiences of art and art’s histories. I strongly urge everyone to sign this petition and take a few moments to look through the comments.

Institut Néerlandais, Paris
The Institut Néerlandais is a Dutch cultural centre in Paris founded in the twentieth century by the collector and connoisseur Frits Lugt. Despite the Institut’s historical and cultural importance, the Dutch Government have decided to eliminate all funding to the institution (as of January 2015) leaving no other option but closure. This would have serious consequences also for the Fondation Custodia (connected with the Institut and located also within the Hôtel Turgot) and its collections of art and manuscripts, which would need to find a new home if the Institut were forced to close. The Institut is running a campaign to petition the Dutch government and will be sending its proposition on 17 August. You can find out more on their website and in Didier Rykner’s articles in The Art Tribune (on the initial threat and the proposed actions against it).

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