INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from Interpol
More than 19,000 archaeological artefacts and other artworks have been recovered as part of a global operation spanning 103 countries and focusing on the dismantlement of international networks of art and antiquities traffickers.
101 suspects have been arrested, and 300 investigations opened as part of this coordinated crackdown. The criminal networks handled archaeological goods and artwork looted from war-stricken countries, as well as works stolen from museums and archaeological sites.
These results were achieved during the global Operation Athena II, led by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and INTERPOL, which was carried out in synchronization with the Europe-focused Operation Pandora IV coordinated by the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) and Europol in the framework of EMPACT. Details of both Operations, which ran in the autumn of 2019, can only be released now due to operational reasons.
Law enforcement officers paid particular attention to the monitoring of online market places and sales sites, as the Internet is an important part of the illicit trade of cultural goods.
During what was called a ‘cyber patrol week’ and under the leadership of the Italian Carabinieri (Arma dei Carabinieri), police and customs experts along with Europol, INTERPOL and the WCO mapped active targets and developed intelligence packages. As a result, 8,670 cultural objects for online sale were seized. This represents 28% of the total number of artefacts recovered during this international crackdown.
This is the second time that Europol, INTERPOL and the WCO have joined forces to tackle the illicit trade in cultural heritage. Given the global nature of this crackdown, a 24-hour Operational Coordination Unit (OCU) was run jointly by the WCO, INTERPOL and Europol. In addition to assisting with information exchanges and issuing alerts, the OCU also carried out checks against various international and national databases, such as INTERPOL’s database on Stolen Works of Art and Europol’s European Information System.
“The number of arrests and objects show the scale and global reach of the illicit trade in cultural artefacts, where every country with a rich heritage is a potential target,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock. “If you then take the significant amounts of money involved and the secrecy of the transactions, this also presents opportunities for money laundering and fraud as well as financing organized crime networks,” added the INTERPOL Chief.
“Organized crime has many faces. The trafficking of cultural goods is one of them: it is not a glamorous business run by flamboyant gentlemen forgers, but by international criminal networks. You cannot look at it separately from combating trafficking in drugs and weapons: we know that the same groups are engaged, because it generate big money. Given that this is a global phenomenon affecting every country on the planet – either as a source, transit or destination, it is crucial that Law Enforcement all work together to combat it. Europol, in its role as the European Law Enforcement Agency, supported the EU countries involved in this global crackdown by using its intelligence capabilities to identify the pan-European networks behind these thefts,” said Catherine de Bolle, Europol’s Executive Director.
“The operational success of Customs and its law enforcement partners offers tangible proof that international trafficking of cultural objects is thriving and touches upon all continents. In particular, we keep receiving evidence that online illicit markets are one of the major vehicles for this crime. However, online transactions always leave a trace and Customs, Police and other partners have established effective mechanisms to work together to prevent cross border illicit trade”, said Dr Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General.
Many activities carried out during the Operation were decided on and conducted jointly between customs and police at national level, with the support and participation of experts from the Ministries of Culture as well as from other relevant institutions and law enforcement agencies.
See Original Post
Reposted from The Art Newspaper
One of the first German art museums to reopen after the coronavirus lockdown is giving visitors a chance to practice social distancing in the foyer.
At the Brandenburg State Museum for Modern Art in Cottbus, around 100km southeast of Berlin, visitors in pairs can each take one end of a selection of poles and ribbons exactly 1.5m long, the minimum distance the German government proscribes for contact between people from different households. The distance is also marked out on the foyer floor. (It instantly becomes worryingly clear that it is considerably further than the space between shoppers in a Berlin supermarket on a Saturday.)
“A museum is a free space designed to open new horizons of thought, but we don’t function independently of the reality out there,” says Ulrike Kremeier, the director of the Cottbus museum, which reopened on 1 May.
The reopening of the museums is unfolding gradually, with variations in the guidelines issued by different states. In Berlin, museums can open this week, but only a few have announced plans to do so. “It’s not a trivial thing to reopen a museum,” Hermann Parzinger, the president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, said in an interview with Monopol magazine. One of the main concerns is the length of time visitors tend to stay in one room, which raises the risk of infection, he said.
At the Cottbus museum, a video in the foyer presented by Kremeier examines solutions devised by artists and architects of the past for personal protection in public. One work she discusses is a photograph by Weegee, Boy Meets Girl—From Mars, a couple embracing in spherical transparent helmets. Another is the Austrian architect Walter Pichler’s Big Room (1966), a pneumatic, bubble-like mobile office.
Kremeier is planning to integrate other pandemic-themed displays into the museum’s space. “Handshaking, for example, is now impolite,” she says. “How do we replace this ancient gesture, which was originally a gesture of peace—a way of showing you are unarmed?”
Home to the biggest collection of East German art in Germany, the Brandenburg State Museum for Modern Art is located in a former diesel power plant built in 1927. Its main current exhibition is a show of photography from 1990, the year of German reunification, including works by Barbara Klemm and Gerhard Gäbler. It was on view for just two weeks before the museum was forced to close in March.
The museum has introduced precautions: a plexiglass shield at the counter and hand disinfectant for visitors that “cost a fortune,” Kremeier says. “Someone is getting very rich out of this.”
Staff have calculated how many people to allow into each room to ensure 20 square metres per person, and say the museum’s full capacity is no more than 100 at a time. “Our visitors are sensible people,” Kremeier says. “I don’t anticipate problems.”
In normal times, many of the museum’s visitors are group tours, which probably will not start again until the autumn, she says. Instead, up to two visitors at a time can book a 20-minute tour for the symbolic cost of €2. Masks are not obligatory but recommended.
The museum has lost revenue. “Usually, we generate income and that’s not happening,” Kremeier says. “I don’t want to save money on artists. That would be the wrong decision.”
The German government is negotiating a “culture infrastructure fund” to help institutions struggling with a loss of revenue from the pandemic lockdown. The Kulturrat, the association of cultural institutions and creative industries, has called for a fund of €500m.
On April 30, the government announced funds of €10m to finance precautionary measures in small and medium-sized museums as they reopen after the lockdown. The national museums’ association has suggested special time-slots for vulnerable visitors, extended opening hours, increased cleaning, and masks on request for visitors.
“We have to make sure that the visitor flow is evenly distributed,” Parzinger told Monopol magazine. He did not want to give opening dates for Berlin’s state museums yet, but said only a few will open initially, with online tickets for specific time slots and a requirement to wear masks.
Among the Berlin museums reopening are the Bröhan Museum of applied arts on 12 May, with an exhibition of the painter Hans Baluschek (1870-1935), and the new wing of Schloss Charlottenburg, which opens the same day. The main palace area remains closed.
The German Historical Museum opens its exhibition about Hannah Arendt, located in the modern extension, on 11 May, but the main museum is also staying closed for now. The Barberini Museum in Potsdam opens 6 May with a Monet exhibition that is extended until 19 July.
And while Christo’s planned wrapping of the Arc de Triomphe has been pushed back to 2021, Deutsche Bank’s Palais Populaire will from 6 May open a retrospective titled Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Projects 1963-2020, Ingrid & Thomas Jochheim Collection. The show features the duo’s veiling of the Reichstag 25 years ago.
From tomorrow, Dresden's newly renovated Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister will begin welcoming a limited number of visitors (no more than 200 at a time.) Visitors to the Gemäldegalerie can register their contact details online. Should it later emerge that someone infected with coronavirus has entered the museum, they will be notified. The Schirn contemporary art museum in Frankfurt is opening on 6 May, followed by the Städel on 9 May.
Officials at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels have issued strict safety measures that visitors must follow when the Old Masters Museum, part of the Royal Museums group, reopens on 19 May. The move could set a possible precedent for museums hoping to open their doors in the near future after closing for prolonged periods in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Safety measures planned for the Brussels museums include following a one-way circuit. A quota of admissions per hour will spread the number of visitors throughout the day and audio guides will not be offered “in order to reduce the risk of contamination”. The safety measures posted online also state: “Depending on the size of the rooms, more or less people will be admitted simultaneously. The allowed number will always be indicated at the entrance of each room.” The Belgian collector Alain Servais tweeted however: "But who will bear costs on lower revenues?"
The art historian Bendor Grosvenor, tweeted that “[it is] interesting to see the rules here [re: Brussels] for possible museum reopening”. In response, Tony Butler, the executive director of Derby Museums, UK, said: “Through a range of UK museum networks, we are already planning how museums can open and operate with distancing measures in place. We want to open up and share our treasures as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Meanwhile, the international museum ethics body Cimam (International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art) has issued a set of Precautions for Museums during Covid-19 Pandemic, encompassing safety measures for re-opening and resuming activity at museums.
The recommendations were prepared by three Cimam board members: Eugene Tan, the director of National Gallery Singapore and Singapore Art Museum; Suhanya Raffel, the director of M+ Hong Kong; and Mami Kataoka, the president of Cimam and director of Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. “The [precautions document] is based on the examples of these three museums in response to the outbreak of Covid-19,” says a Cimam statement.
The document comprises 20 points under headings such as “visitor safety” and “public communication”. These include: “Implement temperature screening of all visitors as well as keeping an eye out for individuals who appear unwell. These visitors must be turned away and encouraged to seek medical attention.”
All visitors and participants must wear a mask and all guided tours must be suspended, according to Cimam's experts. Another suggestion is suspending programmes and events “targeted at senior citizens and other vulnerable groups”. To ensure staff safety, it proposes “implement[ing] daily temperature checking twice daily for all staff, once on arrival and a second time at 2pm, the results of which should be recorded”.
Reposted from Artnet News
The Pérez Art Museum Miami is planning to stay closed until September and, as a result, will take a substantial financial hit.
The museum forecasts that it will lose between $3 million and $5 million in revenue this year (about 20 to 30 percent of its annual total).
To curtail the financial hemorrhaging it has made significant staff cuts. In April, 15 of the museum’s 120 full- and part-time employees were terminated and another 54 were furloughed. The layoffs hit every department, including its curatorial team, and the museum’s 49 remaining staff members are taking five to 15 percent salary cuts.
The decision to extend the closure, which began March 16, through the summer months comes as parts of the country are beginning to resume normal activities for non-essential businesses. The governor of Texas gave museums the green light to resume operations at 25 percent capacity as of May 1, but museums across the state are choosing to remain closed rather than risk endangering public health.
But by deciding in April to stay closed through September, the Pérez Museum is signaling that social distancing constraints will prevent normal museum operations longer than many had hoped. Even New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the first institutions in the country to shut down, is targeting a July reopening.
Keeping the doors shut also means that the Miami museum is canceling its spring show “Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection” and postponing “Allied With Power: African and African Diaspora Art from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection.” Summer exhibitions will also be delayed.
A spokesperson for the museum says it cannot rely solely on donors such as Jorge Pérez, a prominent real estate developer and art collector, to bail out the museum financially. (The museum renamed itself after Pérez when he donated $40 million to the institution in 2011).
“This unprecedented event demanded immediate fiscally responsible actions in addition to donor support in order to address shortfalls in the annual budget for 2020,” the spokesperson told Artnet News. “Each and every board member contributes to [the museum] in meaningful ways on an ongoing basis. That said, the museum is preparing a fundraising plan that involves the board of trustees.”
“We feel horrible that we had to do this,” museum director Franklin Sirmans told the Miami Herald, “but we will move forward, being deliberate about what we can do.”
Those currently furloughed will be brought back on September 1. The museum spokesperson said there were “no plans” for additional layoffs “in the immediate future.”
UPDATE: A PAMM spokesperson has allowed for the possibility the museum will move up its planned reopening date, saying “the museum stated a September 1 reopening to be conservative and thoughtful… taking the county directives and public safety into mind. But if Florida institutions were to begin opening in June or July, they’d of course like to reopen sooner.”
As countries edge slowly out of lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, more public and private galleries are tentatively reopening though visitors will be subject to strict rules on hygiene and social distancing.
The Uffizi Galleries in Florence are due to open mid-May, after closing 8 March, according to Italian government guidelines. Its director Eike Schmidt told Apollo magazine that measures will be taken to combat overcrowding. “We will be implementing additional measures and will also have to lower the number of people who can be in the gallery at any given time—it will probably be half our normal limit of 900 people, so 450 people. The details will all depend on further government rules that we’re expecting to be communicated in the coming days and weeks,” he said.
He also added that the galleries have lost around €10m in revenue so far. “That’s certainly something that we’ll have to work with by pushing some of our building projects into 2021, by slowing some of them down,” Schmidt said, revealing also to Apollo that the Uffizi has launched its own TikTok account in order to engage with a younger demographic.
Following the Swiss governmental Federal Council’s decision to ease coronavirus measures, museums in Switzerland are permitted to re-open from 11 May. Kunsthaus Zurich’s exhibition programme has subsequently been re-scheduled: the exhibitions Ottilia Giacometti. A Portrait and The Poetry of Line—Masterpieces of Italian Drawing are extended until 19 July while Smoke and Mirrors-The Roaring Twenties now begins on 3 July and ends on 11 October.
On the commercial front, Perrotin gallery in Paris has launched an initiative called Restons Unis whereby 26 French galleries will present works at Perrotin’s gallery located in Impasse Saint Claude from mid May. “Although it may not rectify the larger systemic issues of our industry, it does underline the importance of what we accomplish on a daily basis. Online viewing rooms will never replace exhibitions,” says a gallery statement.
The show will comprise four consecutive two-week-long presentations, with each iteration due to include up to seven galleries. Frank Elbaz and Crèvecoeur will, for instance, show works from 23 May to 6 June; Air de Paris and Jocelyn Wolff will take the slot from 4 to 18 July.
“Doors will remain open in order to reduce the use of handles, all countertops will be fitted with a plexiglass screen, documentation will be accessible via QR code, we will carefully manage the flow of gallery visitors, all entrants will be asked to wear a mask, and we will forego opening events,” the gallery adds. Meanwhile, Paris Gallery Weekend, which includes 50 gallery participants, is also due to take place from 2 to 5 July.
Sprüth Magers gallery in Berlin reopened 1 May; visitors are required to book online appointments to view exhibitions dedicated to Kara Walker and Richard Artschwager. “With the health and safety of our visitors and staff in mind, the gallery will limit appointments to 30 minutes,” says a gallery statement; facemasks must be worn.
UPDATE (4 May): Hauser & Wirth is due to reopen its Zurich space 11 May. "The two featured exhibitions are Gunter Forg and Luchita Hurtado which were only open to the public for two days before they had to close," a spokeswoman says. Hauser & Wirth's gallery in Hong Kong will be open by appointment this Friday. "In both instances we're following guidelines for staff and visitors including social distancing measures such as limiting the number of people in the gallery at any one time," the spokeswoman adds.
The Giacometti Foundation in Paris has announced it will reopen 15 May. The exhibition Searching for Lost Works will be extended until 21 June. The Douglas Gordon exhibition, which should have taken place this month, has been postponed till 2021.
Reposted from ArtSentry
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, cultural properties are dealing with an unprecedented number of security, safety and financial issues. Government-mandated closures have created severe security challenges for all nationwide institutions. In response, many are attempting to develop strategies to safely reopen and enhance ongoing operational safety. Art Sentry is pleased to announce it has developed technological solutions to assist with these challenges.
Art Sentry has developed the Elevated Temperature Monitoring system (ETM) to assist in safely reopening, and as a tool for ongoing operational safety. The Art Sentry elevated temperature monitoring (ETM) system will utilize FDA-approved thermal imaging technology, combined with the Art Sentry system, to scan and record thermal statistics of individuals entering your facility. Each employee, vendor, and patron entering the facility will pass through an area where the ETM system will collect facial temperature data and compare it to a predefined threshold. When an out of conformance temperature is detected, personnel will be immediately notified, and the actual temperature of the party can be taken with a medical grade thermometer. All monitoring is automatically recorded to provide an audit trail of each and every activity. Employees/patrons/vendors with an elevated temperature over a pre-defined threshold can then be prohibited from entering the facility in accordance with the institution’s policy.
The ETM system consists of two monitors, an FDA-approved thermal imaging camera kit, and an Art Sentry monitoring system with temperature detection software. A second camera captures and records the temperature scanning process and an image of the individual being screened. The system interfaces with the Art Sentry system to record the screening result, oversee the process, and provide an audit trail.
A people counting option is also available to ensure COVID-19 government-mandated capacity thresholds are not exceeded. This will provide the space required to maintain social-distancing guidelines. To accomplish this, optional camera(s) can be mounted above the scanning areas and exits, enabling the system to provide people counting functionality and thus monitoring the number of people in the facility.
As America reopens, many cultural properties are planning to promote the ETM as a safety measure and they believe it will ease the concerns employees and visitors may have with entering the facility. The improvements in visitor safety may lead to additional visitors, positively impacting the financial outlook of cultural properties moving forward as well as have a positive impact on public relations.
The Art Sentry system can also help maintain or enhance the security of your entire facility. Currently, stay-at-home orders, social-distancing mandates, and financial constraints have greatly impacted the ability to deploy the optimal number of security personnel within the cultural property facility. The Art Sentry product utilizes surveillance cameras and advanced software to work together with your human guard force. The software watches the entire collection simultaneously and immediately notifies the security officers when a breach of any collection piece occurs. The officers can then utilize their training and instantly react to the threat. Visit our website for more information, including case-studies and articles that describe actual results and experiences of our customers.
The future remains uncertain and it has been reported that the COVID-19 virus will likely reoccur in the Fall of 2020. It is possible that another mandatory shutdown of cultural properties will occur, and it is likely that a virus threat will be with us for years to come. Now is the time to plan for these scenarios. The Art Sentry Artwork Protection and ETM systems are designed to help cultural properties meet these challenges now and in the future.
Art Sentry, America’s leading artwork protection system, has been providing products to assist with the protection of cultural properties for over 15 years. Visit our website at artsentry.com for more information.
As Italy and Belgium ease their lockdown restrictions, many of the nations’ museums will reopen in May.
Italy, the hardest-hit country in Europe, enacted a complete nationwide shutdown on March 10. Now, it is reintroducing normal activities in stages, starting with low-traffic business such as bookstores and dry cleaners, which were allowed to reopen on April 14.
The next phase is set to start on May 4, with museums slated to welcome visitors again on May 18. They must follow safety guidelines drawn up by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, which requires that all tickets be purchased online and visitors must practice social distancing in the galleries.
In Belgium, a national commission formed to develop a reopening plan earlier this month announced that there would be three phases for reducing restrictions on businesses and public gatherings there. Museums are included in phase two, which is scheduled to begin May 18, so long that social-distancing measures are followed, reports the Brussels Times.
As countries around the world look to the end of lockdown, world leaders must strike a careful balance, making sure to maintain some safety measures while easing into normal activity. If mass gatherings resume too quickly, countries run the risk of triggering a new wave of infections and once again overwhelming hospitals and medical resources.
“If we do not respect the precautions the curve will go up, the deaths will increase, and we will have irreversible damage to our economy,” warned Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte in a press conference on Sunday. “If you love Italy, keep your distance.”
Ahead of Italy and Belgium, Berlin is reopening its museums on May 4, with precautions including plexiglass dividers at ticket booths, self-scanning tickets, reduced visitor capacity, and more frequent cleanings. Should early attempts to reopen museums be successful, other countries around the world will likely follow suit as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.
“Museums are like parks; spaces in which the individual experience can intertwine with the public space of being together. In the coming months, as a society, we face the challenge to find a new, positive balance between personal freedom and care for our relationship with others,” Bart De Baere, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, told the Art Newspaper, adding that the institution was “ready to serve as a test room for that post-lock down experience.”
The Antwerp museum will open on May 19, as will the Old Masters Museum, one of six institutions that make up the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels. Belgian guidelines mandate that face masks must be worn in public for all people over the age of 12; the government is providing one free mask per citizen.
Museums also face a delicate juggling act when it comes to temporary exhibitions, often dependent on short-term loans of valuable artwork. The Galleria Borghese in Rome has delayed its planned April 29 opening of “Caravaggio: The Lute Player,” pairing six of its Caravaggio works with loans of two of his The Lute Player compositions, including one from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, where the show is set to travel. The two museums are working to adjust the dates of the tour, according to a representative of the Borghese.
It remains to be seen whether Rome’s Scuderie del Quirinale will extend its highly anticipated blockbuster “Raphael: 1520–1483,” for which it pre-sold 60,000 tickets. The show was only open for three days before the country went into lockdown and it is scheduled to close June 2. The museum did not respond to inquiries regarding the possibility of extending the exhibition’s run to meet visitor demand.
Reposted from Time
All it took was a few sturdy swings with a sledgehammer and a prized painting by Vincent van Gogh was gone.
A Dutch crime-busting television show has aired security camera footage showing how an art thief smashed his way through reinforced glass doors at a museum in the early hours of March 30. He later hurried out through the museum gift shop with a Vincent van Gogh painting tucked under his right arm and the sledgehammer in his left hand.
Police hope that publicizing the images will help them track down the thief who stole Van Gogh’s “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884” from the Singer Laren Museum while it was shut down due to coronavirus containment measures.
Nobody has been arrested in the theft and the painting, which was on loan from another Dutch museum, the Groninger Museum, when it was stolen, is still missing.
Police withheld other footage from inside the museum in Laren, a town east of Amsterdam, to protect their investigation. They also did not air video from outside the museum of the thief leaving.
Singer Laren managing director Evert van Os stressed in a statement that the footage didn’t show all of the burglary and defended security, which he said had been approved by the museum’s insurance company.
“The burglar broke through a number of doors and several layers of security that had been approved by security experts,” Van Os said. “The footage released does not therefore allow any conclusions to be drawn as to the quality of security at Singer Laren.”
Police said Wednesday that 56 new tips streamed in from the public as a result of the show. They also said that it’s not clear if the thief acted alone. Police are also seeking information about a white van shown on footage driving past the museum.
The 25-by-57-centimeter (10-by-22-inch) oil-on-paper painting shows a person standing in a garden surrounded by trees with a church tower in the background.
“It looks like they very deliberately targeted this one Van Gogh painting,” police spokeswoman, Maren Wonder, told the Opsporing Verzocht show in the Tuesday night broadcast.
The artwork dates to a time when the artist had moved back to his family in a rural area of the Netherlands and painted the life he saw there, including his famous work “The Potato Eaters,” in mostly somber tones.
Wonder said investigators want to hear from any potential witnesses who saw the thief arrive outside the museum on a motorcycle. She also wants museum visitors to share with police any photos or video they took in the museum in the days before it closed down, to see if anyone was casing the museum before the theft.
“People can help if they now realize that another visitor was behaving suspiciously,” she said. “It would be very helpful if visitors to the museum have photos or video recordings with other people in them.”
Van Os said the museum would draw lessons from the theft, but added: “At the moment, however, the only thing that matters is that the footage should yield useful tips and that the painting should be returned undamaged to the Groninger Museum as soon as possible.”
See Original Post and Video
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 health crisis, 95% of the world’s museums have been forced to temporarily close their doors to protect their visitors. Self-isolation measures represent a huge challenge for museum professionals who must continue to ensure the security of their collections.
The reality for each museum is different, and solutions will be specific to each institution in terms of: rotating teams, security services, confinement on site, etc. ICOM deplores recent thefts from museums in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Despite confinement measures, it is crucial to continue the improvement and upgrade of museum security.
For decades, ICOM and its International Committee for Museum Security (ICMS) have supported the museum community in securing their collections by offering advice and tools that are simple to implement in relation to security staff, intruder detection systems, CCTV, internal communication and reporting.
INTERPOL, through its Works of Art unit, continues to support the protection of cultural heritage across its 194 member countries.
In addition to existing support, ICOM and INTERPOL are now recommending the implementation or reinforcement of the following measures:
If it is not already done, museums must analyse the security situation and activate protection plans. In particular:
The majority of museums already have security protection plans. Nevertheless, a recent ICOM survey related to the COVID-19 crisis shows that around 10% of museums consider that additional security measures are insufficient. ICOM strongly recommends ensuring that procedures are adapted to confinement and availability of staff. For instance:
Police services are among the front-line professions in this crisis as respecting the quarantine measures is considered an absolute necessity to fight the pandemic. ICOM and INTERPOL encourage each museum manager to maintain close communication with their contact within the police force and to exchange information regularly with their reference/supervisory ministry, if relevant.
Regular communication and rapid exchange of information between nominated contact persons are the keystones of a system already adopted by ICOM, INTERPOL and their international partners such as the World Customs Organization (WCO), UNESCO and UNIDROIT. It is for this reason that ICOM urges museums that are victims of theft to immediately contact the appropriate police service so that the latter can make contact with their INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) and INTERPOL’s Works of Art Unit, which is responsible for registering stolen works of art in its international database.
“Our history and culture are preserved in museums. Now, more than ever, we need to step up and reinforce security measures to protect our heritage from attacks and criminals greed. INTERPOL is strongly committed to fighting the illicit trafficking of cultural property, which has been closely linked to organized crime and terrorism financing.” Stephen Kavanagh, Executive Director Police Services, INTERPOL
Museums are impacted by this crisis, but so are monuments, sites, libraries and religious buildings. Security issues are currently of great concern to all of these institutions. As a result, the solutions described above should be shared. In particular, communication with the police, which may, in consultation with the heads of these institutions, provide for enhanced surveillance around areas particularly rich in cultural heritage.
Museums are vital social platforms within their communities. When a museum is located in a residential area, the residents, themselves confined to their homes, could be made aware of the need to inform the police in the event of suspicious traffic or noise in or around the museum. Ensuring they know who to call and acting quickly in case of suspicious activity are two significant preventive measures.
“My advice is to start thinking about the way you will be reopening when the right time is there. You should start thinking about the way this will be implemented in your museum. Swift return to the normal situation is the best security measure one can have!” Anette Hansen, ICMS Chair
ICOM and INTERPOL are regularly informed of specific - even unprecedented - security initiatives which cannot, for obvious reasons, be made public. However, in this time of crisis, we must thank all those individuals who work inside and outside museums to ensure that the collections are kept safe so that the public can continue to have access to them in optimal conditions once lockdown is lifted. Thank you for your dedication.
Reposted from HeadTopics
As lockdown silences Britain’s art galleries, the staff who look after them explain how life is more serene – and eerier
It’s actually the street lights outside flickering on and off, casting strange, inconsistent shadows across the sculpture galleries. But even if you know that, says Alex Butler, assistant manager for the gallery’s “visitor services” team, these are eerie places in which to be alone.
In London, meanwhile, at the Royal Academy of Arts, ghosts dressed in habits have been spotted hurrying along the Nun’s Walk, between Burlington House and Burlington Gardens, and on the Keeper’s House staircase. Stopping for a quick chat with her favourite sculpture every day, security officer Nicky Elworthy has recently had the disquieting feeling that it’s about to answer back.
And down the road at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Vernon Rapley, the director of cultural-heritage protection and security, listens for the traffic noise on the Cromwell Road. It usually carries on throughout the night. But that hum, and the regular hustle-and-bustle on Exhibition Road, have vanished, leaving a peculiar silence in their wake.
No, this isn’t how you announce a fourth instalment for the Night at the Museum films – this is reality for the British art galleries closed to the public under the coronavirus lockdown, and for the staff who are still at work in them.Few major galleries, in fact, are truly empty. Security staff, managers and curators are all on site, carrying out essential tasks to preserve and protect the exhibits. But the visitors who usually provide the footfall and the noise are gone, and without them, says Rapley, these museums “appear to be in an induced coma”.
Which is not to say the emptiness is unpleasant. Delroy Grey, security shift leader at the National Portrait Gallery, might on a typical day be cautioning visitors for touching the artworks; occasionally, he might foil a shoplifter. But since the lockdown began, he says, it feels like your own daily private view.
The closed cafés and absence of school groups have lent his job a certain serenity, and given him a newfound appreciation for the picturesque setting in which he works. “You notice the little things, like when the sun hits certain galleries in the morning and seems to bring them alive.”
Over at the Royal Academy, Elworthy is getting to know some of the artworks better. “The Farenese Hercules statue and I are building quite a rapport. I’m just worried that he may start answering me back if I’m with him much longer…”Butler, for his part, has found that he’s paying more attention to some of the smaller paintings he wouldn’t notice on a normal day, nestled away from the Walker’s main attractions. He’s becoming especially fond of John Lavery’s 1918 painting Hazel in Rose and Gold. “It’s essentially just a very simple figure of a woman, and it’s one of those paintings I walk past a lot, but I’m just beginning to appreciate the colours.”
There’s also John Williamson’s 1791 portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, hung high on a gallery wall. “It’s a very austere portrait, but there’s a life to it that you notice more when you’re walking around the empty galleries.”Of course, those empty galleries bring new challenges as well. At the V&A, Rapley’s biggest security challenge is the mere lack of eyes. “Of course we have security officers on site 24/7, and have nearly 1,000 CCTV cameras watching our collections, but our visitors, volunteers and staff are our eyes and ears.
“They are so often the ones who tell us when something is wrong or when someone is doing something that they shouldn’t. Without them it’s a big task for our security team to do everything that thousands of people do for us on a normal day.”And there’s the dust: the absence of visitors tramping around and dislodging it means that after just one week of closure, the exhibits were noticeably tattier than usual.
The lack of day-to-day human contact for the on-site staff can be lonely too. “It’s a bit bittersweet to have the exhibitions to ourselves,” says Butler. Rapley agrees: “The collections have lost a bit of their sparkle – they come to life when our galleries are busy.”
“The galleries are very much their audiences as much as the artworks within them,” Butler explains. “When they’re empty, they yearn for an audience. It’s the discussion our visitors have about the work that brings life to them.”He quotes the late critic John Berger: “What any true painting touches is an absence – an absence of which without the painting, we might be unaware. And that would be our loss.”
Like Rapley at the V&A, Butler talks of looking forward to the Walker’s reopening – whenever that might be. Reimagined tour routes and fresh exhibitions are already in the works, or at least the imaginations of curators across the country who suddenly have time on their hands.
ConferenceMembershipTraining & CertificationDonate to IFCPP
TRAINING & EVENTS
1305 Krameria, Unit H-129, Denver, CO 80220 Local: 303.322.9667
Copyright © 2015 - 2018 International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection. All Rights Reserved