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Roman Shipwreck Discovered, Brazilian Film Warehouse Burns, and More: Morning Links for August 2, 2021

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The Headlines

THE ARCHAEOLOGY BEAT IS BUZZING. Let’s dive right in. A U.K. judge has nixed the government’s approval of a controversial plan to build a highway tunnel near Stonehenge, saying it failed to consider both the possible harm of the project and possible alternatives, the Art Newspaper reports. “We are disappointed in the judgment and are considering it carefully before deciding how to proceed,” a Department for Transport rep told the BBC. Off the coast of Egypt, in the sunken city of Thonis-Heracleion, fruit-filled baskets and bronze artifacts have been found, according to the Guardian. Also underwater: an ancient Roman shipwreck that was just discovered off of Sicily, as Smithsonian Magazine details. And 13 Aztec artifacts, dating as early as the 12th century and allegedly being smuggled from Mexico, were seized by the U.S. They are said to have been headed to a residence in South Carolina.

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ANOTHER PLUM MUSEUM JOB IS OPENING UP. Timothy Rub said he will retire as director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the end of next January (before his 70th birthday in March), the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Rub took the position in 2009, and oversaw an expansion project started by his predecessor, Anne d’Harnoncourt, who died of a heart attack in 2008. His tenure came under scrutiny last year, the New York Times notes, as misconduct allegations against two former managers came to light and employees raised equity issues. The Times says the museum’s board has already begun a search for a new leader. It is a heady time for the curatorial class: the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and MASS MoCA are among the other major-league institutions on the hunt for directors.

The Digest

A fire destroyed part of a warehouse owned by Brazil’s film institute, the Cinemateca Brasileira. Employees had warned of the possibility of such a disaster, accusing the nation’s government of neglect. In 2018, the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro was also devastated in a blaze. [AFP/France 24]

Lee Joon, a pioneering painter of geometric abstractions in Korea whose work addressed events like the Korean War and the partition of the country, has died at the age of 101. [The Korea Times]

Artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg has helped create an installation of more than 600,000 white flags—one for each American who has died of the coronavirus—that will appear on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in September. “People will come and they will be astounded by the visual immensity,” Firstenberg said. [Associated Press]

More movement on the museum-unionization front: Curators, editors, and other employees at the Guggenheim Museum in New York are aiming to form a union. If established, it will cover some 160 employees. [The New York Times]

Artist Anish Kapoor’s foundation is renovating an 18th-century palazzo in Venice to create a studio, gallery, and space for his work. Construction will continue until at least 2023, but Kapoor lovers in Venice next April can take in a show by the artist at the Accademia. [The Art Newspaper]

Early on Saturday morning, a thief broke into the Sacramento History Museum in California and made off with gold artifacts. It could have been worse: The museum said the burglar only managed to open one of the three display cases they tried. [The Sacramento Bee]

A sealed box of Pokémon cards went for $384,000 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, the second-highest amount ever spent on a Pokémon lot. (The top mark, for the record, is $408,000, which was spent on a box back in January.) [Press Release/ArtDaily]

The Kicker

THE SOOTHING TELEVISION PAINTER BOB ROSS IS DEAD, but his intellectual property lives on, and the Washington Post is the latest publication to delve into how it is being managed, following reports in the Daily Beast and the New York Times . Ross’s programs are being streamed vigorously, Mountain Dew licensed his image for an ad, and not everyone believes he would be pleased with this state of affairs, but his posthumous appearances are emblematic of the way culture operates now, according to branding experts. “It used to be when you thought of something fond from your childhood you’d call a friend, talk about it for a minute and move on,” one told the Post. “Now all that thinking can become a very profitable business.” [The Washington Post]

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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