The Week in Art News – German Culture Minister Calls for National Strategy on Benin Bronzes

German Culture Minister Monika Grütters has convened a meeting of museums and states next month to develop “a national strategy” regarding Benin bronzes held by German museums. The announcement comes after a recent meeting between representatives of the German Ministry of Culture and Nigerian officials in Benin City, which raised hopes for the return of the bronzes. Grütters, reports the art diary, said that any such strategy “should of course include restitution, in the framework of a common dialogue with the communities of origin”. In developments in the UK, the University of Aberdeen announced that it was returning the Benin Bronze which had been in its possession since 1957.

The M+ Museum is unlikely to display Ai Weiwei’s photograph Perspective study – Tiananmen Square when the museum finally opens in Hong Kong later this year. The institution intends to comply, the chairman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority told the South China Morning Post, with the national security law that mainland China imposed on Hong Kong last year. After a recent press preview of the museum, a complaint was filed with the police regarding works including those of Ai Weiwei; Carrie Lam, chief executive of Hong Kong, said authorities would be on “full alert” for any breaches of security legislation, which prohibits acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers or external forces.

The Canadian philanthropist Donald R. Sobey died at the age of 86. Sobey chaired the board of trustees of the National Gallery of Canada from 2002 to 2008; he then became a founding member of the museum’s board of trustees, on which he served until last year. During this time, Sobey supported important acquisitions for the museum, including works by Peter Doig and Louise Bourgeois. Through the foundation, he also sponsored the Sobey Art Award for Canadian Artists, which comes with one of the biggest cash prizes in the world.

the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London was rebranded Serpentine North, in a move the institution describes as part of a “rebranding process”. A short statement provided by the Serpentine to Apollo makes no mention of dropping the Sackler name and only refers to “new wayfinding terminology” to help visitors distinguish between its two galleries. The Serpentine’s second venue in Kensington Gardens opened in 2013 and was named in recognition of a £5.5million donation from the Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation.

Nicolas Bourriaud was dismissed from his position as director of Montpellier Contemporain, the museum opened in 2019 with Bourriaud at the helm. The recently elected mayor of Montpellier, Michaël Delafosse, had previously criticized the size of the museum’s annual budget (6 million euros, allocated by former mayor Philippe Saurel) and the “elitism” of its exhibition programme. Conservative Numa Hambursin was named as Bourriaud’s successor, despite failing to secure the required two-thirds majority at a board meeting earlier this week.