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THE MUSEUM OF THE BIBLE IN WASHINGTON, D.C., has returned some 5,000 artifacts to Egypt that were illegally acquired, according to the Art Newspaper. The repatriation of the objects, which included manuscript fragments and statue heads, was reportedly the result of years of negotiations. Founded by Steve Green, the owner of the Hobby Lobby craft stores in the United States, the museum has run into trouble with some of its acquisitions in the past. In 2017, Hobby Lobby was fined $3 million for illegally importing Iraqi archaeological items, and last year, scholars determined that material identified as fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls were forgeries. (“We’re victims—we’re victims of misrepresentation, we’re victims of fraud,” the museum’s chief told National Geographic at the time.) In 2018, writer Greg Allen visited the museum for ARTnews, reporting that on “a crowded day the effect is somewhere between the set of a pre-warp planet on Star Trek: The Next Generation and colonial Nazareth.”
Update: An earlier version of this post stated incorrectly that the Museum of the Bible was created by Hobby Lobby founder David Green.
TEN U.S. MAYORS HAVE SENT A LETTER TO THE BIDEN-HARRIS administration, calling on it to take action in response to the pandemic-induced economic crisis in the arts, Artforum reports. The letter, whose signatories includes the leaders of San Francisco, Houston, and Los Angeles, cites statistics that the unemployment rate in the arts has been far higher than that in the general labor market during the pandemic and speaks of “the efficacy of the arts in developing the conditions that are vital to civic healing and unity, social connection and belonging, collective trust and safety, life-long learning, and economic and social justice.”
Philadelphia artist and graphic designer Jack Gerber died earlier this month at the age of 93. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
A competition opens today to design the forthcoming NGV Contemporary, a museum that will showcase art, design, and fashion, in Melbourne, Australia. [The Sydney Morning Herald]
Artist, pianist, and composer Jason Moran has just released a new collection of music, The Sound Will Tell You. [NBC News]
Denver’s auditor released a report saying that the Denver Art Museum and the city should update their operating agreement to clarify the ownership of some artworks, a move that the the museum and the mayor have said is not necessary. [The Know/The Denver Post]
Art critic and biographer Deborah Solomon weighs in on the enduring power of monoliths, reviewing a new show at Kasmin in New York. [The New York Times]
Art and architecture critic Philip Kennicott on a Trump presidential library: “even a privately funded and operated Trump presidential library, which would be devoted to whitewashing his record and rewriting history, is a terrible and even dangerous idea.” [The Washington Post]
The artist Georg Baselitz has donated six of his paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. [Artnet News]
Detroit artist Shirley Woodson, 84, has received the Kresge Foundation’s Eminent Artist prize, a lifetime achievement award that comes with $50,000. [Detroit Free Press]
Tim Marlow, the director of the Design Museum in London, says that if he won the lottery he’d “buy a modernist house overlooking the ocean and a Cézanne watercolor to hang inside,” among other items. [Elle Decoration/Yahoo! Style]
Prada’s spring 2021 women’s collection features a collaboration with Belgian artist Peter De Potter. [T: The New York Times Style Magazine]
The recent autobiography by dealer Rudolf Zwirner has been translated from German into English and published by his high-flying son’s imprint, David Zwirner Books. Judging by James Tarmy’s review in Bloomberg, it contains some gems. For instance, in 1960, when his fledgling gallery was a year old, a colleague gave him some sage advice: “Young man, you can’t expect to earn enough money with contemporary art. You also have to be active on the secondary market.” Interviewed by ARTnews in 2019, Zwirner père recalled just how different the art business was in the late 1960s. He was exhibiting major Pop artists, he said, but “there were hardly any visitors, the press ignored us.” [Bloomberg]
Thank you for reading. We’ll see you on Monday.