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On Friday, January 23, 2015, collectors, first-time buyers, and a variety of art, antique, and design professionals, including dealers, interior designers, and curators, will gather at New York City’s historic Park Avenue Armory for the prestigious Winter Antiques Show. Now in its 61st year, the distinguished event will welcome seventy-three exhibitors offering fine and decorative arts from antiquity through the 1960s, with one-third of the show’s participants specializing in Americana and the rest featuring European, English, and Asian objects. The unparalleled quality of the works exhibited at the Winter Antiques Show has helped establish the event as the most esteemed antiques show in the country.

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Most of the large museums in the Netherlands had more visitors this year than last year. The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam especially had many visitors, 2.5 million and 1.6 million respectively. This is according to a survey done by the ANP.

Five museums had a record year: the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, the Spoorwegmuseum (Railway museum) in Utrecht and the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities) in Leiden.

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If you are a fan of “Downton Abbey,” you won’t want to miss “Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House” at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor before it closes Jan. 18.

Built in Norfolk in the 1720s for England’s first prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall features grand rooms designed by architect William Kent to house Walpole’s Old Master paintings, elegant furniture (some designed by Kent to go with the rooms), elaborate tapestries and Roman antiquities. Many of these rooms are recreated at the Legion as settings for luxurious furniture, silver and china, and paintings by English artists Thomas Gainsborough and William Hogarth.

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Publicly funded museums that seek to sell off "the family silver" will face tougher sanctions from the body that overseas the UK's museums. The Museums Association (MA) is to tighten up its ethics code to avoid controversial sell-offs of valuable antiquities from cash-strapped museum collections.

It is also in talks with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Art Fund, and Arts Council England to establish a "joined-up response" to those selling important objects for financial gain. They are also investigating whether to launch an official list of at-risk collections.

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A new bill introduced in Washington, DC last week seeks to block looted Syrian cultural heritage from entering the US. The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act asks Congress to appoint a cultural property protection czar and establish emergency import restrictions to protect endangered cultural patrimony. The bill aims to “deny terrorists and criminals the ability to profit from instability by looting the world of its greatest treasures,” says the congressman Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York, in a statement. Engel is co-sponsoring the legislation with Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey.

Black market sales of looted cultural objects are the largest source of funding for the Islamic State after oil, according to Newsweek.

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014 11:21

Repaired Sphinx Courtyard to Reopen in Egypt

The area surrounding the colossal limestone statue, thought to have been built during the reign of Pharaoh Khafra (2558-2532BC), has been closed for almost four years to allow for damage caused by water and air pollution to be repaired.

“The Sphinx courtyard will be opened for the first time since the restoration of the monument [began]”, Mohammed al-Damati, Egypt’s antiquities minister, told AFP. "Once the courtyard is opened, tourists can walk around the Sphinx.”

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Wednesday, 29 October 2014 11:26

Egyptian Antiquities to Embark on a Tour of Europe

An exhibition featuring artifacts discovered off the coast of Egypt is set to tour Europe. “Egypt’s Sunken Secrets” is organized by Franck Goddio, the founder of the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology, in association with Egypt’s Ministry of State for Antiquities. Artifacts have been selected from museums across the country, including 18 from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, while over 200 come from recent underwater explorations by Goddio’s team.

In a press release, Mamdouh el-Damaty, Egypt’ s head of antiquities, said that the exhibition will strengthen cultural ties between Egypt and the EU, encourage tourism to Egypt, and bring in €600,000 of funding for the ministry, as well as an additional €1 per ticket after the 100,000th visitor.

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It has been obvious for many years that few areas of the Museum of Fine Arts’s permanent collection were more poorly presented to the public than its stupendous Greek and Roman holdings. The relevant galleries, on the eastern side of the building, had almost no climate control, which meant that in summer they were baking. This made for uncomfortable viewing, but it was also, of course, totally inappropriate for the fragile objects on view. The glass cases were often dusty. Wall labels were typed out on cards.

Now, three contiguous galleries devoted to aspects of Ancient Greece have been opened to the public, and the difference they make is enormous.

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The renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York purchased a collection of 4,000-year-old Egyptian artifacts found a century ago by a British explorer, averting a plan to auction the antiquities that had drawn criticism from historians.

The Treasure of Harageh collection consists of 37 items such as flasks, vases and jewelry inlaid with lapis lazuli, a rare mineral. Discovered by famed British archaeologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, the relics date to roughly 1900 B.C., excavated from a tomb near the city of Fayum. Portions of the excavated antiquities were given in 1914 to donors in St. Louis who helped underwrite the dig.

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More than 80 prominent archaeologists and other scholars from around the world have signed an open letter calling on the United Nations Security Council to ban trade in Syrian antiquities, a market they say is now destroying Syria’s cultural heritage and providing funding for extremist groups.

“Our shared world heritage in Syria is being looted and turned into weapons of war,” the letter says.

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