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Thousands of artifacts from the British Museum's priceless collections went online Thursday in a partnership with Google that will allow web-users to take a virtual stroll through its galleries.

The deal with the Google Cultural Institute, which has 800 partners from over 60 countries, also allows objects to be scrutinized by researchers around the world thanks to high-definition Gigapixel technology.

Among artifacts viewable online is the famous Rosetta Stone, which helped unlock the secret of Egyptian hieroglyphs, and sculpture from the Parthenon in Athens.

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Questions have been raised about the authenticity of a group of works attributed to Jackson Pollock, six of which were exhibited at the Art Monaco fair in July by the Nevada-based Classic Fine Art. Around 30 paintings from the group were privately analyzed by Art Access & Research, a UK-based company, in 2010.

The Art Newspaper has seen reports written by Nicholas Eastaugh, the director of Art Analysis & Research (formerly Art Access & Research), examining the pigments used in 23 paintings. Of those, 12 were found to include CI Pigment Yellow 74, which was not commercially available before the Abstract Expressionist artist died in 1956.

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Vincent van Gogh’s reds have been turning white, but the exact reason why has remained unclear. Research published last month out of Belgium has identified a rare lead mineral in his paint as the missing link.

As reported this week by Matthew Gunther at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemistry World, a team at the University of Antwerp examined a microscopic sample of van Gogh’s “Wheat Stack Under a Cloudy Sky” (“Heuschober an einem Regentag”) from 1889 at the Kröller-Müller Museum using X-ray powder diffraction tomography, basically focusing beams to reveal crystalline compounds.

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The 18th-century cabinetmaker Nathaniel Gould left inkblots in his battered gray notebooks as he recorded the luxurious mahogany output of his workshop in Salem, Mass. His listings of clients and fees, found seven years ago in forgotten boxes at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, have enabled researchers to attribute his mostly unsigned antiques. Next weekend, about 20 of these pieces will go on view at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem in the exhibition “In Plain Sight: Discovering the Furniture of Nathaniel Gould.”

The show’s catalog blends tragic family lore with statistics. Gould’s clients lost their furniture in fires, their fortunes in bankruptcies and war and their family members in shipwrecks. Coffins for children were among his workshop’s frequent commissions.

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The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) announces the completion of a major digitization project that dramatically improves access to the library's online records. Part of a comprehensive $20 million library renovation and improvement initiative, more than 250,000 new catalog records, nearly 50,000 of which reference one-of-a-kind items unique to the Phillips Library, have been created. The records are available to countless researchers worldwide via the Phillips Library website and through OCLC/Worldcat. Boasting 400,000 volumes collected over two centuries, PEM's Phillips Library is one of the largest and oldest museum libraries in the country.

"This project marks a major leap into the modern age and is an invaluable boon to scholarly research," says Sidney Berger, The Ann C. Pingree Director of the Phillips Library.

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The Smithsonian Institution is now actively seeking volunteers to aid in the digitization of its collection. Through a new website launched today, the public can sign up for various transcription projects which will take thousands of hand-written artifact labels and make them available digitally for researchers.

Among the hundreds of thousands of documents that need transcribing are the labels attached to 45,000 bumble bee specimens in the collection of the National Museum of Natural History. The museum hopes digitizing that information will aid scientists studying the current global bee decline.

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Tuesday, 05 August 2014 11:43

Micro-Fractures Appear on Michelangelo’s David

The iconic statue of David by Michelangelo could crumble under the stress of its own weight because of "weak ankles" in the original construction of the masterpiece, warns  the National Research Council (CNR) and Geosciences Institute at the University of Florence.

Micro-fractures in its legs have appeared on the sculpture which weighs 5.5 tonnes and researchers in Florence have warned that it could collapse under its own weight. The ornamental tree stump carved behind David's right leg bears most of the statues weight and recent findings from the National Research Council show cracks.

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The Walker Art Center announces the launch of the Living Collections Catalogue, a new online publishing platform dedicated to scholarly research on its renowned multidisciplinary collections. This web-based project is an on-going serial publication that replaces the traditional printed collections catalogues of the past. As a dynamic form of publication, it will allow the Walker greater flexibility to dive more deeply into its collections and build new thinking around its diverse holdings, with free and easy access for scholars, researchers, and the public around the world.

Using a design framework that responds to a range of digital devices—whether a laptop, a smartphone, or a tablet computer—the Living Collections Catalogue provides scholars and enthusiasts access to unique documents, original interpretation, and rich media resources about select artworks from its holdings. Each volume in the series will explore a unique aspect of the Walker's collections, reflecting the multidisciplinary interest and editorial perspectives of the institution's curators.

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Tuesday, 18 June 2013 18:47

Swiss Website to Track Nazi-Looted Art

The Swiss government has launched a website that will help claimants, museums, and researchers track Nazi-looted artworks that have made their way to Switzerland. Switzerland became a hub for Nazi plundered artworks following World War II. The country was a popular place for Jewish art dealers who were fleeing the Nazis and many Swiss museums, collectors and dealers acquired works stolen from the Jews by the Nazis.

The new site will provide visitors with guidance on provenance research, links to relevant databases and archives, and details on Swiss museums’ own analyses of their collections. Switzerland is one of 44 countries that sanctioned the Washington Principles on returning Nazi-looted art in public collections in 1998. Under the policy, governments agreed to find “just and fair” solutions for the victims of Nazi plundering and their heirs as well as to allocate resources to identifying looted art. In spite of Switzerland’s cooperation, it is still believed that there is a fair amount of Nazi-looted artworks in Swiss collections. Provenance research has only been conducted among a select few of the government museums, private collections, and foundations that have artworks from this tragic period.

Switzerland’s newly launched website for tracking Nazi-looted artworks is

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After a 10-month-long restoration, New York’s Museum of Modern Art has rehung Jackson Pollock’s (1912-1956) One – Number 31, 1950. The painting, which is considered one of the most significant works from the Abstract Expressionist movement, is also one of the finest examples of Pollock’s iconic drip paintings.

The restoration process, which began last July, involved feather dusting the canvas and the removal of decades of dirt that had left the painting with a yellow tinge. MoMA’s conservators used sponges, moist erasers, and cotton swabs to gently cleanse the massive canvas, which measures 9 feet high by 17 ½ feet wide. In addition to the cleaning, conservators closely studied the painting using X-ray and ultraviolet lights.

After thorough analysis of the canvas, conservators discovered that certain portions of One – Number 31, 1950 didn’t mesh with Pollock’s signature style. The sections were texturally unusual and contained different paint than the rest of the canvas. The discovery left conservators baffled as the painting hadn’t been touched since entering the MoMA’s collection 1968 and there was no record of a previous restoration.

It soon came to light that the painting had once belonged to Pollock’s friend, the art dealer Ben Heller, and that the work had been part of a traveling exhibition during the early 1960s. Researchers were able to locate a photo taken by a scholar in 1962 that showed the painting without any of the questionable areas, which meant that the painting was altered after 1962. After examining the canvas with ultraviolet light, conservators discovered tiny cracks under the paint’s surface, leading them to believe that the alteration was an attempt at a repair. Another shocking discovery that resulted from the high-tech analysis was that some of One – Number 31, 1950 was painted while the canvas was hanging on a wall, not laying on the ground as previously believed. The painting’s drips trickle downward, which would have been impossible to achieve if Pollock had created the entire work while standing above it.

The newly restored One – Number 31, 1950 is currently on view on the MoMA’s 4th floor.

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