Le Corbusier furniture threatened by sewage

Elizabeth Hopkirk

Leak floods Lutyens-designed gallery in Johannesburg

Furniture designed by Le Corbusier is among £40 million of exhibits at Johannesburg Art Gallery threatened by a sewage leak.

A burst water pipe has flooded the basement with sewage, and staff are fighting to keep art works, ceramics and furniture in two storerooms safe.

Every time lavatories are flushed or a tap run, the sewage level rises, according to a report in the South African Mail & Guardian newspaper.

“We don’t have money even to call in a plumber,” it quoted one museum worker as saying.

The museum, designed by Edwin Lutyens, opened in 1915 and is one of the biggest in Africa but has been plagued by problems in recent years.

It has suffered a string of thefts, including an El Greco; rubbish reportedly washes in to the grounds after storms; the 1986 extension is leaking and requires major repairs; and the air conditioning does not work properly.

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