Showing 10 results for the month of December, 2005.

December 30, 2005

Peru requests return of artefacts in Yale University

Posted at 1:50 pm in Similar cases

Yale University holds huge amounts of artefacts excavated from the lost Peruvian city of Machu Picchu. Peru wants many of these artefacts returned, claiming that they only ever gave the university permission for the loan of these items.

From:
Christian Science Monitor

from the December 29, 2005 edition
90 years later, Peru battles Yale over Incan artifacts
By Danna Harman | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

MACHU PICCHU, PERU – The Incas built this mysterious city here, it is told, to be closer to the gods. It was placed so high in the clouds, at 7,700 feet, that the empire- raiding Spaniards never found, or destroyed, it.

Today, visitors to Machu Picchu see well-preserved ruins hidden among the majestic Andes: complete with palaces, baths, temples, tombs, sundials, and agricultural terraces, and also llamas roaming among hundreds of gray granite houses.

But they won’t find too many bowls, tools, ritual objects, or other artifacts used by the Incas of the late 1400s. To see those, they have to travel to New Haven, Conn.
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December 28, 2005

The politics of the Met’s Euphronios purchase

Posted at 9:20 pm in Similar cases

This article interviews a worker at New York’s Metropolitan Museum, who discusses amongst other things, the arguments surrounding the concept of the universal museum, an idea of which the British Museum is particularly fond.

From:
Scoop Independent News (New Zealand)

Antiquities Whistleblower Oscar White Muscarella
Sunday, 25 December 2005, 9:05 am
Article: Suzan Mazur
The Whistleblower & The Politics Of The Met’s Euphronios Purchase: A Talk With Oscar White Muscarella
By Suzan Mazur

“[Dr. Oscar White] Muscarella’s loyalty was ill rewarded. Half a year earlier, he had responded to [Metropolitan Museum trustee/ former US treasury secretary C. Douglas] Dillon’s invitation to the staff to address any grievances to him. He wrote a long letter decrying the wretched professional and economic status of the curators – as a seasoned and much-published archaeologist, he was getting $11,500 a year – and he begged that the staff be granted academic freedom and a voice in policy similar to those accorded most university faculties. Dillon passed the letter to [Met Director Tom] Hoving, who was not pleased. Ultimately, Muscarella was dismissed three times. Unlike a score of others who resigned by request or were laid off, he stayed on through a civil suit [which he won].”
- John L. Hess, The Grand Acquisitors

I first met Metropolitan Museum ancient Near East expert Oscar Muscarella in the late 1980s. I went to see him at his office to discuss some safety pins or “fibulas” which had turned up in a couple of tumuli in southwest Turkey along with other artifacts that Turkish archaeologists identified as Phrygian.
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December 22, 2005

Acropolis restoration almost complete

Posted at 1:35 pm in Acropolis

Within a year’s time, all urgent repairs to the Acropolis monuments will be complete. There will still be a lot of additional restoration work, but the remaining tasks will be less critical to ensuring the survival of the site in its current state.

From:
The Guardian

Decades-Long Acropolis Rehab Nearly Done
Wednesday December 21, 2005 4:01 PM
By NICHOLAS PAPHITIS
Associated Press Writer

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Thirty years into a massive project to restore the 2,500-year-old Acropolis monuments, the end is at last in sight, Culture Ministry officials announced Wednesday.

All “urgent repairs” to the marble monuments – built at the height of ancient Athenian glory in the 5th century B.C. – will be completed in a year’s time, architect Haralambos Bouras told a press conference. And from 2009, he said, conservationists will be free to tackle less pressing projects on the walled Acropolis hill.
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December 21, 2005

African museums and cultural institutions in the 21st century

Posted at 1:43 pm in Similar cases

A conference was held in Mombassa to discuss various issues affecting African Museums. These discussions do seem however rather like a way for large museums in the west to exercise control over these much smaller institutions. While it is positive that negotiations are happening at all, the African museums ought to be the ones leading the discussions, rather than being led into them by museums hoping to extract even more from these countries in return from loaning them some artefacts that rightly belong to them in the first place.

From:
Daily Observer (Gambia)

African museums forge ahead
Written by Hassoum Ceesay
Wednesday, 21 December 2005

Over seventy African museums professionals recently met in Mombasa, Kenya, to discuss on the theme “African museums and cultural institutions in the 21st century: Development, management and partnership”.

The week-long conference held from 4 to 10 December was sponsored by the British Council, Centre for Heritage Development in Africa (CHDA), formerly (PMDA) and the British museum.
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Kenya involved in link with British Museum

Posted at 1:39 pm in Similar cases

A lot of publicity has been given to the co-operation between the British Museum & the National Museum of Kenya, however, as I have mentioned before, it seems more like a carefully engineered situation, to allow the British Museum to appear helpful, when in fact they are in the wrong & should be returning these artefacts rather than just offering to loan them.

From:
The East African

Kenya in major link up with the British Museum
PAUL REDFERN
Special Correspondent

The British Museum has announced a major link up with the National Museums of Kenya.

The partnership programme has been supported by the British Council and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and will involve unprecedented collaboration between the two museums.

The project’s commencement will be marked by a special exhibition, due to open in Nairobi in March 2006, titled Hazina – Traditions, Trade and Transitions in Eastern Africa.
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December 18, 2005

The curse of Aphrodite

Posted at 6:26 pm in Similar cases

Former Getty curator, Marion True’s trial in Italy continues to be the source of many related stories appearing in the word’s press. One of the reasons why there is so much discussion over this particular case is that for a long time, Marion True herself had argued for better laws to regulate the acquisitions policies of America’s museums. Everyone accepts that the current problem isn’t one that only afects the Getty, although the institute’s increased purchasing power means that it has more recent acquisitions to be scrutinised than most museums, as well as being a potentially more attractive target for lawsuits.

From:
Daily Telegraph

The curse of Aphrodite
By William Langley and Sarah-Jane Checkland
(Filed: 18/12/2005)

Elegantly dressed in a high-collared coat and wraparound sunglasses, Marion True clattered down the stone corridors of Rome’s central courthouse and out into the waiting mêlée of reporters and television crews. The Italian capital loves a spectacle, and this was one it had been waiting for – the first appearance of the former curator of classical antiquities at the centre of the biggest scandal to hit the art world in decades.

Until last October, Ms True, 57, worked as the head of antiquities at the formidably rich Getty Museum in California. Acknowledged throughout the world as an authority, even her cats carry names from Greek mythology. Now she is out of a job, her luxurious, ocean-front apartment in Santa Monica is up for sale and she could face 10 years in jail if convicted on charges of conspiring to traffic in stolen artefacts, including an $18 million statue of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.
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Other restitution cases affecting US museums

Posted at 6:19 pm in Similar cases

Although Italy’s legal proceedings against the Getty & other large museums in the United States, there are also many other smaller cases where countries are requesting the return of specific pieces that they believe were acquired improperly.
For instance, Yale University is facing a possible lawsuit from Peru over artefacts originating in Machu Pichu. While more prominence is attached to these cases now by the press due to the publicity from the Getty case, most of these other unresolved cases have already been going on for many years.

From:
Inside Higher Ed

Dec. 15
Scott Jaschik
Whose Artifact Is It?

For years, the Greek government has tried to get the British Museum to return to Athens various antiquities — most famously the Elgin Marbles — that Greece and others believe were inappropriately removed in the early 19th century. And this year, two of the most prominent museums in the United States — the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum — find themselves in increasingly messy debates over whether some priceless items in their collections were once stolen from collections in Italy.

With less public attention, three universities are enmeshed in international disputes over significant holdings in their collections. Italian authorities maintain that two ancient Greek vases at the Princeton University Art Museum were illegally taken from Italy. Peru is threatening to sue Yale University for the recovery of artifacts from Machu Picchu. And a group of terrorism victims who have been suing Iran for damages are now trying to obtain ownership of invaluable objects currently in a museum at the University of Chicago.
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December 16, 2005

Japan returns Bukgwandaecheopbi monument to Korea

Posted at 5:59 pm in Similar cases

The most interesting part of this article is not the main story in the text, but the introductory preface, not mentioned in any other English Language Press, that Japan is to return a monument to Korea that was taken during the Russo-Japan War of 1904-1905. Prompted by this act by the Japanese, the author then considers whether other countries that hold looted artefacts would consider returning them & following Japan’s example.

From:
The Korea Times

Koh-i-Noor: The Mountain of Lights
12-15-2005 17:17
By Prabhat K. Mukherjee

A news item a few weeks back surprised many, including foreigners. Japans’s Yasukuni Shrine announced that it would return a Korean stone monument commemorating the defeat of 16th century Japanese invaders to South Korea. The Bukgwandaecheopbi monument, which till recently was located at the Tokyo shrine, was transported to South Korea. This would be ultimately handed over to North Korea where the monument had originally been installed in 1707. The stone monument was built in memory of Korean Admiral Li Sun Sin who fought against Japanese expeditions launched by warlord Hideyoshi (1537-1598) to conquer Korea in the late 1590s. Stories of the war are engraved on it. The shrine had held on to the monument since the Japanese forces brought it to Japan during the Russo-Japan War of 1904-1905.
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December 9, 2005

Why museums should change their approach to antiquities acquisitions

Posted at 5:51 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

This editorial piece from the New York Times, prompted by the problems facing the Metropolitan Museum feels that many of America’s largest museums could easily have anticipated these current issues. For many years there was a “don’t ask – don’t tell” policy regarding the purchasing of antiquities. Can the museums that now look with indignation at these restitution requests ever have a legitimate claim on artefacts that mean so much more to the people of the country where they were originally located?

From:
New York Times

December 8, 2005
Critic’s Notebook
Regarding Antiquities, Some Changes, Please
By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN

In the latest debacle over the looting of antiquities from Italy, there’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around. The Metropolitan Museum is now negotiating with the Italian authorities over objects in its ancient Greek and Roman collection, trying to avoid the crisis facing the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, with its former curator of antiquities on trial in Italy.

Those aren’t the only museums suddenly being scrutinized. American museums always pretend to be taken aback to learn that some of what they have acquired might not have been legally exported, as if there weren’t a longstanding, tacit “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. For years, museums have permitted art brokered through cities like Geneva and London to come into their collections. Dealers have been given a nod and a wink, so that they would know better than to share dirt on the origins of what they were selling. The burden was on the Italians – or Greeks or Turks or whomever – to prove the art was illegally sold.
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December 4, 2005

Does the British Museum really understand its collections?

Posted at 6:29 pm in Similar cases

This article from the Daily Telegraph gives an interesting insight to the attitude of the British Museum to its own collections in its final paragraphs. The museum contains a collection of icons, many dating to the Byzantine period, which are all kept in the basement of the museum. Various people, including the Prince of Wales have contacted the museum, suggesting that these artefacts could be far better displayed. One wealthy Russian has offered to provide the museum with a purpose-designed space in which to better display these paintings, but the museums has ignored all these requests & offers.

From:
Daily Telegraph

Saturday 3 December 2005
Exquisite survivors from a more spiritual age

Fifty years ago, you could pick up a Russian icon for a few pounds; now these pictures, painted mostly by anonymous monks, fetch fortunes. Louise Baring reports on the West’s reappraisal of an ancient Eastern Orthodox tradition

Icons stretch back 2,000 years, yet they are an art form that remains neglected by Western art historians. Hard to classify, they are, as British icon-lover Sister Wendy Beckett puts it, “too prayerful to fit into any art categories, yet too artistic to loom large in books of spirituality”. Very often, the development of such tiny, specialist fields is dependent on one or two figures. Richard Temple, a scholarly Englishman in his late sixties, is one example.
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