UK Government Art Collection To Set Up Its Own Gallery

Posted in museums by Editor on February 26, 2017


Selections from the UK’s Government Art Collection as displayed in its current storage facility off Tottenham Court Road; photo from a blog posting (5 March 2014) at Please Don’t Touch The Dinosaurs, which noted the introduction of lunchtime tours of the GAC.

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As reported by The Art Newspaper (February 2017), p. 10.

The UK’s Government Art Collection (GAC) plans to set up its own gallery. This will open up a huge collection of 14,000 works, mainly by British artists, which is not easily accessible.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which oversees the GAC, says that the collection’s offices and stores will be moved to new premises in London which should include a “display space that everyone will be able to enjoy.” Entry will presumably be free. The location and timing have not yet been announced.

At present, the collection is stored in Queen’s Yard, just off Tottenham Court Road, in central London. The stores are not environmentally controlled to museum standards, which is another reason for the move. . .

Of the 14,000 works, around one-third are in store, with most of the remainder hanging in 100 government offices in the UK and 270 offices abroad, where there is very limited public access. . .

The works are nearly all by British artists, although there are a few paintings made by foreigners of British subjects. They date from the 16th century to the present. . .





UK Export Ban Placed on a George III Barometer

Posted in Art Market by Editor on February 26, 2017

Press release (23 February 2017) from Gov.UK’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport:

Wheel barometer, ca. 1770–80, 43 × 14 × 2.25 inches. Dial, silvered, signed ‘Whitehurst Derby’ with 3-inch scale for 29-31 inches of mercury subdivided into hundredths and inscribed for changeable, rain, fair. Case: mahogany, carved with leaves, column (housing the tube) with acanthus leaves at base, and urn finial. Made by Whitehurst of Derby.

Wheel barometer, ca. 1770–80, 43 × 14 × 2.25 inches. Dial, silvered, signed ‘Whitehurst Derby’ with 3-inch scale for 29-31 inches of mercury subdivided into hundredths and inscribed for ‘changeable’, ‘rain’, ‘fair’. Case: mahogany, carved with leaves, column (housing the tube) with acanthus leaves at base, and urn finial. Made by Whitehurst of Derby.

A rare Georgian barometer is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £160,000. Culture Minister Matt Hancock has placed a temporary export bar on the George III mahogany wheel barometer to provide an opportunity to keep it in the country. The piece is one of a small number of its design known to have been made by the renowned Whitehurst family of clockmakers, from Derby. It is one of only nine of this type known to exist, none of which are known to be in a UK public collection.

During the reign of King George III natural philosophy had become increasingly popular, with scientific instruments finding their way into the homes of the elite classes. The ornate decoration of this instrument indicates that it was intended for this purpose. The possible association of the barometer with John Whitehurst makes this item of particular interest. As a clockmaker, instrument maker, and natural philosopher, he was a member of the Lunar Society, became Stamper of Money Weights at the Mint, was painted by Joseph Wright, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said: “This beautiful barometer is more than just an instrument: it also gives us a glimpse into the 18th-century home and the increased interest in natural philosophy at the time. As a rare and important item associated with a significant regional workshop, this fine piece offers an intriguing possibility for further study. I very much hope that we can keep it in the UK for this purpose.”

The decision to defer the export licence follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by The Arts Council.

RCEWA member Christopher Rowell said: “The scientifically sophisticated design of this rare Whitehurst barometer is matched by the high quality of the carved mahogany case. No other Whitehurst barometer of this model is in a British public collection, and its retention in this country is therefore highly desirable.”

The RCEWA made its recommendation on the grounds of the barometer’s outstanding significance to the study of the Whitehurst family’s work. The decision on the export licence application for the barometer will be deferred until 22 April 2017. This may be extended until 22 July 2017 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of £160,000 (plus VAT of £2,000). Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the barometer should contact the RCEWA.



New Book | Why Preservation Matters

Posted in books by Editor on February 26, 2017

Released in October from Yale UP:

Max Page, Why Preservation Matters (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016), 224 pages, ISBN: 978  03002  18589, $25.

61locfoy19l-_sx337_bo1204203200_Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, a critique of the preservation movement—and a bold vision for its future

Every day, millions of people enter old buildings, pass monuments, and gaze at landscapes unaware that these acts are possible only thanks to the preservation movement. As we approach the October 2016 anniversary of the United States National Historic Preservation Act, historian Max Page offers a thoughtful assessment of the movement’s past and charts a path toward a more progressive future.

Page argues that if preservation is to play a central role in building more-just communities, it must transform itself to stand against gentrification, work more closely with the environmental sustainability movement, and challenge societies to confront their pasts. Touching on the history of the preservation movement in the United States and ranging the world, Page searches for inspiration on how to rejuvenate historic preservation for the next fifty years. This illuminating work will be widely read by urban planners, historians, and anyone with a stake in the past.

Max Page is a professor of architecture and history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, author of The City’s End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York’s Destruction, and winner of the Spiro Kostof Award from the Society of Architectural Historians, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize. He lives in Amherst, MA.




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