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Swedes Find Stolen Atlas in New York

By Patricia Cohen from The New York Times

Wytfliet’s was the earliest printed atlas of the Americas. Photo by: Marilynn K. Yee from The New York Times

He was entrusted to guard Sweden’s cultural heritage, but instead this senior librarian spent years surreptitiously stealing and selling scores of its rare and precious books. When the thief, Anders Burius, was finally caught in 2004, the media called him the “Royal Library Man,” and his sensational crime and subsequent suicide became the subjects of a government inquiry, a radio documentary and, last year, a television mini-series.

Now, for the first time, one of the missing books — the earliest printed atlas of the Americas — has been recovered by Sweden’s Royal Library after a librarian there noticed that it was being offered for sale last year by a New York map dealer, W.

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Moscow’s Monuments Under Threat

By Sophia Kishkovsky from The Art Newspaper

Dynamo Stadium, before demolition

Preservationists are voicing growing concerns about Moscow’s architectural heritage and the state’s role in ensuring it survives. The controversial destruction of monuments has contributed to recent anti-government protests in Russia, even though a number of preservationists believe that Moscow’s authorities are doing a better job of saving landmark buildings under Sergei Sobyanin, who was elected as the city’s mayor in 2010, than under his predecessor Yuri Luzhkov, who was notorious for allowing historical architecture to be demolished.

The disputed sites include two that are now controlled by the state-owned VTB Bank: Dinamo Stadium, which is being redeveloped as a potential venue for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in a project worth at least Rb20bn ($635m), and Detsky Mir, a children’s store in Lubyanka Square, next door to the former headquarters of the KGB.

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Reflected Infrared Light Unveils Never-Before-Seen Details of Renaissance Paintings

From ScienceDaily

Part of the fresco by the Zavattaris in the Theodelinda’s Chapel, Duomo of Monza (Italy). The artworks, executed between 1440 and 1446 are extremely rich and complex, featuring different fresco techniques, gold and silver decorations and reliefs. Color photography (a), and imaging in the NIR (b), compared to the TQR image (c). (Credit: Optics Express)

When restoring damaged and faded works of art, artists often employ lasers and other sophisticated imaging techniques to study intricate details, analyze pigments, and search for subtle defects not visible to the naked eye. To refine what can be seen during the restoration process even further, a team of Italian researchers has developed a new imaging tool that can capture features not otherwise detectable with the naked eye or current imaging techniques.

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China’s Palace Museum to become world-class

From China Daily

The curator of the Palace Museum, known as the imperial Forbidden City, has described how he and his colleagues are striving to turn the site into one of the world's top museums through an improved blueprint.

Shan Jixiang said at a media briefing on Friday that the attraction will be positioned alongside Paris' Louvre Museum, New York's Metropolitan Museum, St Petersburg's State Hermitage and the British Museum as one of the top five museums in the world.

It will feature a new display layout and arrange permanent exhibitions on unique objects including bronze, jade, lacquer and imperial items, Shan explained.

“We are also planning to set up a museum for foreign cultural relics,and will develop digital technology covering most parts of the Forbidden City,” Shan added, without specifying a time scheme for any of these developments.

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At Museum on 9/11, Talking Through an Identity Crisis

By Patricia Cohen from The New York Times


Photo by Fred R. Conrad of The New York Times

It seemed self-evident at the time: A museum devoted to documenting the events of Sept. 11, 2001, would have to include photographs of the hijackers who turned four passenger jets into missiles. Then two and a half years ago, plans to use the pictures were made public.

New York City’s fire chief protested that such a display would “honor” the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center.

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Of Marbles and Men: Turkey gets tough with foreign museums and launches a new culture war

From The Economist

Photo by: heydrienne

In the spring of 1887 a Lebanese villager named Mohammed Sherif discovered a well near Sidon that led to two underground chambers. These turned out to be a royal tomb containing 18 magnificent marble sarcophagi dating back to the fifth century BC. The Ottoman sultan, Abdul Hamid II, ordered the sarcophagi exhumed, placed on rails and carried down to the Mediterranean coast, where they were sent by ship to Istanbul. The largest sarcophagus was believed to contain the remains of Alexander the Great. The coffin is not Turkish and Sidon is now in Lebanon, but the sarcophagus is regarded as Istanbul’s grandest treasure, as important to the archaeology museum there as the “Mona Lisa” is to the Louvre.

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A Museum Turns Wind Into Gold

By William Yardley from The New York Times

The new wing of the Maryhill Museum of Art, foreground, is partly financed by income from wind turbines on the museum's rural acres, in Washington State. Photo by Matthew Ryan Williams/The New York Times

The big winds that rake this nearly treeless channel of the Columbia River Gorge lightened somewhat last weekend.

 “It was calmer than usual,” said Colleen Schafroth, the executive director of the Maryhill Museum of Art, high on a bluff above the Columbia. “But the turbines were definitely turning.” And after last weekend, when Maryhill celebrated the opening of a $10 million addition, when benefactors strolled the new plaza that offers views of the river, Mount Hood and the wheat fields across the river in Oregon, and when guests dined outside the little cafe, everyone will know better than to complain when the wind picks up again.

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Against the Infantilization of the Natural History Museum

From Justin Erik Halldor Smith

It has often struck me that no greater misfortune can befall a natural history museum than for it to come into enough money for renovations. These typically take the form of interactive screens displaying 'fun facts' directed at eight-year-olds, and they require the removal of anything that reeks of the past, which is to say also the removal of the very idea of natural history, in favor of some eternally present, unceasingly entertaining, Chuck E. Cheese-like arcade.

Just think about it: what kind of adult goes to a nature museum these days? I mean an adult who does not have some child in tow: a child, it is presumed, in need of perpetual edification? I mean a proper, auto-edifying, end-in-him-or-herself adult. These days, museums that are not about art are about nature, nature is about science, science is about education, and education, as we know, is for the kids, insofar as they, finally, are the future.

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A Nobelist’s Novel Museum

By Ron Gluckman from The Wall Street Journal

Refik Anadol / The Museum of Innocence

This museum honors a work of fiction, its exhibits and artifacts reflecting events that never took place, except in the imagination of the Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk. In perhaps his most ambitious creation, possibly the world's only museum of its kind, the writer has taken literature on a course that is remarkably novel.

Yet the Museum of Innocence is also a genuine institution and, after more than a decade of planning, a huge triumph for Mr. Pamuk. The author not only curated the displays but collected all the items, grouped in 83 numbered panels, one for each chapter of his 2008 book, “The Museum of Innocence.

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Shouldn’t “The Dinner Party” be Over by Now?

"The Dinner Party" by Judy Chicago Photo from: Brooklyn Museum of Art
By Joan Altabe from the Examiner
Displaying art on the basis of gender needs to stop. It’s time already.
Granted, art by women was ignored for a very long time. But that story ended and painters like Helen Frankenthaler have been able to say, “Looking at my paintings as if they were painted by a woman is superficial, a side issue.”
Apparently, Brooklyn Museum didn’t get the memo.

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