Showing results 1 - 12 of 19 for the month of November, 2006.

November 30, 2006

The UK is not going to become a haven for looted art?

Posted at 2:00 pm in Similar cases

A response from Lord Howarth of Newport to the previous letter in The Times about the implications of the new Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill. It is worth bearing in mind that this is the same Alan Howarth who as an MP frequently spoke out that the Elgin Marbles should remain in Britain, claiming that to return them to Greece would impoverish the world.

The Times

Letters to the Editor
The Times
November 29, 2006
Law on displays of looted art

Sir, The Government’s proposals would not promote an “international free-for-all” or give “complete immunity” to those who wish to display what may be stolen and looted art in public exhibitions (letter, Nov 28). Immunity from seizure will not mean immunity from suit.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport guidance on due diligence, together with the code of practice of the Museums Association and the principles promulgated by the National Museum Directors Conference, makes it clear that museums and galleries should borrow items only if they are “legally and ethically sound”. The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill allows the Secretary of State to withdraw approval, and therefore immunity from seizure, from an institution that she considers not to be performing due diligence adequately.
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November 29, 2006

“Marbles with Attitude” cartoons featured in Greek press

Posted at 4:59 pm in Elgin Marbles

I previously mentioned Lazaros Filippidis’s cartoons of the Elgin Marbles. They have now been featured in an article in Kathimerini.

Kathimerini (translation by Dimos Vlachos of Marbles Reunited

Animated ‘Marbles with an Attitude’, with sentiment and a webpage

A new website has been launched, dedicated to the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures. At you will find a series of humorous cartoons, created by the group “Marbles with an Attitude”. On their web site, the marbles speak out and express their sentiments. We read of what the Centaurs and Lapiths desire, of how the Caryatid feels, or of how the Horse of Selene ponders his fate. The Caryatid of Erechtheio, for example, declares that she feels loneliness and longing in being away from her sisters, whereas the Centaur states that he suffers gloomily, as he is unable to run along the slopes of Olympus. The text accompanying photographs of the marbles is the inspiration of a Hellene, living and working abroad in Britain. “When I first visited the British Museum in London to view the marbles, I felt as if there was something that I had to do.”, says the thirty-six year old L. Filippidis, who works as a researcher at the University of Greenwich.
When visiting the links page of the website, one can find various links to other websites dedicated to the same cause. Here one can read of the official stance of the Greek government, on the “Reunification of the Sculptures”.
The first official activity of the group, Marbles with an Attitude, will commence on the 2 December at the main entrance of the British Museum. A small group of interested volunteers will be distributing flyers with the objective of highlighting the question of the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, to visitors of the museum and the general public alike.
Marbles with an Attitude invites all who may be interested in assisting in their goal to visit their website. Visitors to the site will not only become informed of the latest developments on the topic, but will have access to methods of contributing to the international effort of reunifying the Parthenon Marbles.

Should the UK become a haven for looted art?

Posted at 1:53 pm in Similar cases

A letter to The Times, highlights the problems of a new government bill which would give immunity to stolen artefacts whilst in this country for the purposes of exhibition.
As they point out, public interest should always take precedence over achieving facilitating world class exhibitions in this country. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that a large number of museum curators would disagree with this assertion.

The Times

Letters to the Editor
The Times
November 28, 2006
Stolen art works

Sir, We are deeply concerned at the Government’s proposal to give complete immunity to those who wish to display stolen and looted art works by making them available for exhibition in this country. The proposed legislation, buried in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill, would provide automatic protection from seizure to lenders outside Britain, making them safe from the legitimate claims of the rightful owners.

The justification is that the UK’s position as a leading centre for world-class exhibitions will be jeopardised unless all loans are protected from seizure. This reasoning results from pressure exerted by museums and those overseas whose concern for the provenance of art works owned by them is at best cavalier. In fact, the result will be that Britain will become one of the few countries in the West where such ill-gotten gains can be displayed with impunity and where the rights of the true owners will be so easily frustrated.
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November 27, 2006

National gallery admits painting may be looted

Posted at 1:56 pm in Similar cases

Since the Feldmann case (although not directly related to it), many claims have been made on museums around the world that works in their collection allegedly bought in good faith, but later revealed to have been looted by the Nazis. Unlike some countries which can return these works to their rightful owners, the main institutions are forbidden from doing this by the Acts of Parliament on which they are founded – meaning that the only resolution which can be achieved is monetary compensation with the permission of the government.

The Sunday Times

The Sunday Times
November 26, 2006
National Gallery admits that masterwork may be Nazi loot
Richard Brooks, Arts Editor

THE National Gallery has admitted that a Renaissance masterpiece in its collection may have been looted by the Nazis from a Jewish family.

Cupid Complaining to Venus, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, the German artist, was bought by the gallery in 1963 and is worth millions of pounds today.
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November 25, 2006

Shortage of funds for Britains’s museums

Posted at 1:48 pm in British Museum

Yet again, another survey showing that the big national museums of Britain lack the spending power of many of their rivals in other parts of the world, particularly the USA.
At the same time though, they sit on vast stores of artefacts that they do not currently have the space to exhibit, many of which have never been exhibited.
It seems that the answer is clear – the museums should be allowed discretionary powers to deaccession items in their collections. This would not only remove them of some of their storage requirements, but provide them with the funding to make bigger purchases when required, to allow them to refine & enhance their collections. Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any immediate plans by the UK Government to relax the out of date anti-deaccessioning rules that form part of the charters of many of the country’s great institutions.

The Times

The Times November 24, 2006
Art heritage at risk from lack of funds
Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has 70 times the purchasing power of the British Museum and more than eight times that of the National Gallery in London, according to a report.

Britain’s leading museums lag behind other world-class institutions in terms of the money available to spend on their collections, particularly when compared with those in America, France and the Netherlands.

The world’s four highest-spending museums are the Met and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Louvre in Paris and the Getty in Los Angeles.
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November 22, 2006

Natural History Museum urged to return all Aboriginal remains

Posted at 2:01 pm in Similar cases

Leaders of Australia’s Aboriginal Community are continuing to express disquiet about the Natural History Museum’s handling of requests for the return of human remain from their collection.

ABC News (Australia)

Museum urged to return all Indigenous remains
Tuesday, 21 November 2006. 14:29 (AEDT)

A South Australian Aboriginal community says a British museum is acting disgracefully by only returning one of two Indigenous South Australian remains.

The Natural History Museum is returning the remains of one Indigenous South Australian from the Narungga people of the Yorke Peninsula and 17 from Tasmania.
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November 21, 2006

The Medici Conspiracy

Posted at 1:49 pm in Similar cases

Suzan Mazur continues to explore the events surrounding the controversial acquisitions of many of the artefacts in the Metropolitan Museum & the Getty, by talking to Peter Watson, author of a book on art dealer Giacomo Medici who is currently facing trial in Italy.

Scoop (New Zealand)

Krumpets With Medici Conspiracy’s Peter Watson
Monday, 20 November 2006, 8:36 pm
Article: Suzan Mazur
Tea & Krumpets With Medici Conspiracy’s Peter Watson

By Suzan Mazur

The Carlyle Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was the designated meeting spot, in the bar made famous by Ludwig Bemelman’s mural of Manhattan, Carlyle’s very own Euphronios masterpiece. Bemelman’s was packed at 5:30, and I ran into US News & World Report publisher Mort Zuckerman, who was happy to see me thinking I was his date. Medici Conspiracy author, Peter Watson, arrived soon after. And Peter and I settled in at a table beside one of Bemelman’s bankers on the wall.

Watson’s wife, a pretty, petite woman, who works as a “business getter” for Christie’s auction house giving lunches and dinners for customers, also stopped by briefly to say hello.
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November 20, 2006

India’s lost heritage

Posted at 1:46 pm in Similar cases

The Hindustan Times laments not only the looting & sale of India’s artefacts to other parts of the world, but also the fact that there government is making few coordinated efforts to resolve the situation.

Hindustan Times

Beyond the Brussels blitz
Ringside view | Nayanjot Lahiri
November 18, 2006

Being inheritors to a historic heritage is both empowering and humbling. It is empowering because of the remarkably old roots of our nation’s composite character. It is humbling because of the enormous responsibility it places on us to preserve it and make it accessible to others.”

What did Sonia Gandhi mean when she used these words to inaugurate the ‘Tejas’ exhibition in Brussels on November 19? Was she articulating a polite platitude? Or did she allude to the real condition of our heritage, obscured when it is aggressively marketed in cultural festivals abroad? Was she aware that the exhibition which she inaugurated at Palais de Beaux Arts, forms part of a heritage which is neither preserved properly nor widely accessible?
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More on the Natural History Museum’s restitutions

Posted at 12:04 pm in Similar cases

Further coverage of the Natural History Museum’s decision to return some of the aboriginal human remains in their collection.
One thing to bear in mind is that prior to a change in the law last year, any returns from the Britain’s major museums were impossible, but after negotiations between Britain & Australia it was agreed that recent (less than one thousand years old) human remains could be treated as a special case by museums.

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

UK museum to return Aboriginal remains
November 19, 2006 – 11:14AM

Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough has welcomed a British museum’s decision to return Aboriginal remains.

Britain’s Natural History Museum on Friday agreed to return the remains of 18 Aborigines to Australia.
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November 19, 2006

Not everyone is happy with the restitution of aboriginal human remains

Posted at 12:12 pm in Similar cases

Although aboriginal groups have welcomed the return of human remains by Britain’s Natural History Museum, some scientists are arguing that the return of the remains represents a tragic loss to the museum. This loss is compounded by that fact that in accordance with their traditional beliefs, the aboriginal communities are planning to cremate the remains, thus destroying them forever.
As a counter to this though, it should be argued that not only was little attention paid to these particular items for most of the time that they were in the museum, but that more importantly, permission was never given in the first place by the aboriginal communities for the removal of these remains to the museum. It may be a loss to science, but this doesn’t just mean that scientists should be able to ignore the rules whenever they think that something is important to their personal area of study.

The Guardian

Scientists mourn loss of Aboriginal remains to be sent back to Australia
· Change in law allows fragments to be returned
· Cremation expected in keeping with beliefs
Ian Sample, science correspondent
Saturday November 18, 2006
The Guardian

The Natural History Museum is to repatriate the remains of 17 Tasmanians and a skull from the Australian mainland to the country’s government, trustees announced yesterday.

The Australian government requested the return in November 2005 on behalf of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, which says it will cremate the material in keeping with Aboriginal beliefs.
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November 18, 2006

Natural History Museum to return some aboriginal remains

Posted at 11:58 am in Similar cases

In what appears to be a positive step forward from their earlier position on the issue, Britain’s Natural History Museum has agreed to return the remains of eighteen Australian aboriginal people back to their country of origin. This is just a start though, as there are many other pieces still in their collection on which no decision has yet been made.

International Herald Tribune

Britain’s Natural History Museum to return remains of 18 aboriginal people to Australia
The Associated Press
Published: November 17, 2006

LONDON: Britain’s Natural History Museum said Friday that it will return the remains of 17 Tasmanians and the skull of an Australian Aborigine to the Australian government.

The museum’s trustees announced the decision to return the remains by March a day after an independent panel presented an ethics review and guidelines for dealing with future claims.
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Collecting versus cultural heritage

Posted at 11:50 am in Similar cases

In recent years, as cultural values have gradually shifted towards favouring restitution, incompatibilities between the views of archaeologists & the museum / art dealing community have been accentuated.
While Museums & art dealers value pieces as a part of a collection (ideally their own), archaeologists attach more value to the study of the artefacts within their original context.
This conflict is something that might be more publicly debates in the USA at present, but which is equally applicable to the museums in many other countries as well.

New York Sun

Collecting vs. Cultural Heritage
November 17, 2006

In two different parts of town last night, two very different voices in the debate over museums and antiquities made their arguments heard. Uptown at the Metropolitan Museum, the Met’s director, Philippe de Montebello, delivered to a rapt audience an impassioned defense of museums continuing to collect antiquities –– while, downtown, Peter Watson, the author of “The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities — From Italy’s Tomb Raiders to the World’s Greatest Museums,” spoke to a group at the Chelsea Art Museum about the responsibility of museums not to contribute to the illegal trade in antiquities. After his talk, Mr. Watson was honored at the gala of Saving Antiquities For Everyone (SAFE), a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving cultural heritage.

Mr. Watson spoke primarily about his book, which is named for the Italian dealer Giacomo Medici, who was convicted in 2004 on charges of antiquities trafficking. He predicted that the recent agreements between the Met and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Italian government, which involve returning disputed objects to Italy in exchange for loans of comparable ones, will not end the battle over cultural property. The MFA, for instance, has agreed to return only 15 objects, but Mr. Watson said that in his research he discovered nearly a hundred with hazy provenance in the museum’s collection. He also predicted that other countries, including Greece and India, will start bringing cases against museums.
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