Showing results 1 - 12 of 34 for the month of February, 2008.

February 28, 2008

Problems not over between Peru & Yale

Posted at 6:33 pm in Similar cases

Peru’s agreement with Yale University was seen by many as a model for other similar future agreements for similar cases, when it was announced last year. It now appears though that following the initial optimism, things have not necessarily proceeded as planned.

Time Magazine Blogs

February 26, 2008 9:49
Machu Picchu: Sticky Wicket?
Posted by Richard Lacayo

Over the months that I was working on Time’s story this week about the antiquities wars, one thing that struck me was that last September’s “memo of understanding” between Yale University and Peru to return the Machu Picchu artifacts, which was supposed to be finalized within 60 days, never was. Now we’re getting a glimpse of how messy this could still get. Last Saturday the New York Times ran a stinging Op-Ed piece by Eliane Karp de Toledo, archaeologist and former first lady of Peru, who was a prime mover in Peru’s campaign to retrieve the artifacts.

One of her complaints is that Peru would not be granted clear title to to the entire collection, because the tentative agreement provides for Yale to keep a portion of “non-museum quality” artifacts for research purposes for 99 years. The best reporting on this story has been coming from Paul Needham at the Yale Daily News , which last month obtained from Karp de Toledo a copy of the confidential memo between Yale and Peru. A piece he wrote last week is particularly good. One crucial passage:
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The Museums Association & the “Disposal Toolkit”

Posted at 1:52 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Following lengthy discussions with various interested parties, the Museums Association has completed a review of ethical advice given to institutions on the disposal of items from their collections. The outcome of this is a shift in policy whereby museums are encouraged to take a more active approach to de-accessioning items that are no longer required. Whilst this does not overturn such statutory instruments as the British Museum Act, which regulate the country’s biggest institutions, it does represent a complete change of mindset from the views generally held in the recent past. As part of their policy change, they have created various references to help museums make decisions.

A change in approach to de-accessioning is to be welcomed – institutions will no longer be blocked from obtaining many grants & loans if they also remove redundant artefacts from their collections – something which did happen until recently. Now the individual institution is given more of a free choice in which path to take.

Spike Culture, which has often written against de-accessioning, does not agree that the new policy is a good thing.

Spiked Culture (London)

Wednesday 27 February 2008
Tiffany Jenkins
Why museums should dump the ‘Disposal Toolkit’

Contrary to the advice of the Museums Association, preserving collections is not a ‘burden’ — it’s the whole purpose of museums.

The historic protection of art and artefacts in museums and galleries received a blow this week from the very organisation that should be caring for collections. The UK’s Museums Association, the professional body for the museum sector, has issued a ‘Disposal Toolkit’, encouraging professionals to get rid of stuff from their store rooms.
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February 27, 2008

New Acropolis Museum exhibition in China

Posted at 2:23 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum, Similar cases

Greek Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis has just opened an exhibition on the New Acropolis Museum in China. He is also discussing with officials there, issues relating to the smuggling of ancient artefacts – a problem that affects both countries.

Athens News Agency

Liapis in China

Greek Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis held a meeting in Beijing with Chinese Deputy Culture Minister and President of the Cultural Heritage Protection Authority Jixiang Shan on Tuesday. A cooperation memorandum was signed between the two countries during the meeting on cracking down on antiquities smuggling.

Following a proposal made by Liapis, it was agreed that a wider initiative must be assumed between countries harmed by antiquities smuggling on the claiming and returning of cultural goods exported illegally.
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February 25, 2008

Lewis Chessmen subject to metropolitan prejudice

Posted at 2:04 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Arguments by the British Museum over the Lewis Chessmen have been revealed under the Freedom of Information Act & highlight the lack of respect for the campaign shown by the institution. The derogatory wording of internal memos has many similarities with memos released regarding the Lindisfarne Gospels in the British Library, which take a similar tone.

The Scotsman

Published Date: 24 February 2008
Source: Scotland On Sunday
Location: Scotland
Chessmen keepers reveal fear of ‘Gallic hotheads’
By Murdo MacLeod, Political Correspondent

STORNOWAY and Paris are normally difficult to confuse, but a spelling gaffe in a British Museum memo managed to mix the Gaels and the Gauls.

A document which suggested “Gallic hotheads” might seize the Lewis chessmen has come to light, much to the bemusement of islanders who have in turn accused museum officials of “ignorance”.
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MPs criticise British Library over Lindisfarne Gospels loan rejection

Posted at 1:59 pm in Similar cases

The British Library has now rejected call for loan of the Lindisfarne Gospels, even for a temporary exhibition. The British Library’s attitude to the claim when discussing it internally has clearly not helped the situation.

The Independent

Tug-of-war starts over Lindisfarne Gospels’ future
The North wants its heritage back – but the ‘London-centric’ British Library resists
By Paul Bignell
Sunday, 24 February 2008

A row has erupted over the future of the Lindisfarne Gospels, one of Britain’s most valuable religious treasures.

Amid claims of “cultural snobbery” and political opportunism, Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State for Culture, has been forced to step in to defuse a North-South dispute between MPs in Northumbria and officials at the British Library.
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Cambridge Union debate the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 1:54 pm in Elgin Marbles, International Association

Press coverage of the results of the Cambridge Union debate on the return of the Elgin Marbles.

ABC News (Australia)

Cambridge debates Elgin Marbles
By Europe correspondent Jane Hutcheon
Posted Sun Feb 24, 2008 1:32pm AEDT

Cambridge University has debated the contentious issue of returning the Parthenon Sculptures, otherwise known as the Elgin Marbles, to Greece.

The statues were removed in the early 1800s by Britain’s ambassador to Athens, Lord Elgin.
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February 23, 2008

Blogroll update

Posted at 3:24 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

During the last few weeks I’ve cleared out a lot of the dead links from the sidebar (shame on you Greek Ministry of Culture for breaking every single link when updating your website). I’ve also added a number of new sites & blogs that I’ve discovered in the last year.

I’ll try & summarise them in the order they appear.

In Other Information, I’ve added the Hellenic Society for Law & Archaeology, The Institute for Art & Law (I’m not sure why I hadn’t added them before), the Lawyers Committee for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage. A few of the other links have been updated to point to the correct location for sites that have moved.

In Relevant Blogs, there are a number of recent additions. Mary Beard’s Blog for The Times, A Don’s Life, often covers issues relating to cultural heritage. Cultural Heritage News has regular updates on all sorts of news relating to cultural heritage. The Illicit Cultural Property blog covers any issues relating to cultural property policy. I have already referred to Richard Lacayo’s excellent blog, Looking Around for Time Magazine, in many previous posts. Looting Matters covers the ethics surrounding the collecting of antiquities. SAFE Corner is a blog connected to the Saving Antiquities For Everyone, in the Similar Cases category. The Art Law Blog covers all issues where art & law coincide – many of which are relevant to the focus of Elginism. The Assemblage similarly covers the crossover between archaeology & politics. The History Blog also has interesting & relevant articles.

In Similar Cases, I’ve added the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Centre & updated the link to the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre at Cambridge University, which sadly seems to have ceased operation, but their website still remains intact with a wealth of information available on it through the back issues of the publication – Culture Without Context.

National Geographic video on the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 2:29 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

National Geographic have made a film on the Elgin Marbles controversy as part of their Treasure Wars series. It manages to combine some amazing computer reconstructions (Which I think came from the ones originally produced by Paul Debevec – Its worth looking at the rest of his site if you are interested in finding out more about how the model was created) with a neat summary of some of the arguments from both sides.

Once again though the British Museum manages to include mis-information that they have been corrected on many times in the past – since the statement in 2000 by Pangalos, Greece has set aside the issue of ownership of the sculptures. They also manage to throw in an entirely new argument that I haven’t heard previously, where they imply that polls showing consistently that the majority of people support restitution are irrelevant because they were taken recently (The most recent major poll was in 2004 by the Marbles Reunited campaign). This is a uniquely counterintuitive line of reasoning, as they are implying that if a poll was made now it would probably not show support for reunification – yet in the last four years, there has been a significant shift (both in the UK & internationally) towards allowing restitution in certain cases.

The film can be viewed online here (you may need to install Flash to see it).

Who owns history

Posted at 1:57 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Once again, Richard Lacayo’s latest article in Time Magazine presents an insightful & balanced analysis of the current state of the restitution issues affecting museums.

Time Magazine

Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008
Who Owns History?
By Richard Lacayo
Update Appended: February 21, 2008

Over the past few months, I made what you could call a farewell tour, except I wasn’t the one going away. What I did was set out to bid goodbye to a few favorite works of art that would soon be departing the U.S. for good. First I headed to California and the Getty Villa in Malibu, a museum devoted to the ancient Greeks, Etruscans and Romans. I wanted a long last look at its statue of a goddess from the 5th century B.C. Scholars are divided over just which goddess she represents, but whoever she is, at 7.5 ft. (2.3 m) tall, she’s a formidable woman, one of the most powerful works in the Getty’s rich collection.

Or she was. Two years ago, Francesco Rutelli, newly appointed as Italy’s Culture Minister, embarked on a campaign to demand the return of dozens of objects held by U.S. museums, ancient works that he said had been looted from archaeological digs in his country and smuggled out. In the months that followed, one museum after another went through something like the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross stages of accepting death. They bridled, they denied, they negotiated. Finally, they came to terms. In the case of the Getty, it agreed to return 39 objects in short order but got a temporary reprieve on the goddess until 2010.
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Museum world shell shock

Posted at 1:52 pm in Similar cases

An interesting summary of current events by Richard Lacayo – in particular, the end of the article where he considers the response by the museums world to increasing numbers of successful restitution claims.

Time Magazine Blogs

February 21, 2008 8:49
News, Notes and Blogroll Update
Posted by Richard Lacayo

A lot of the art news this week is in courtrooms.

The slow motion trial of former Getty antiquities curator Marion True and dealer Robert Hecht trundles on in Rome.
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Getty curator’s trial continues in Rome

Posted at 1:42 pm in Similar cases

Despite various returns by the Getty & being out of the news in recent months, the trial of former Getty curator Marion True continues in Rome.

New York Times

Arts, Briefly
Antiquities Trial Continues in Rome
Published: February 21, 2008

More than six months after the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles agreed to hand over 40 artifacts to Italy, the criminal trial of its former curator of antiquities lumbers on in Rome. A prosecution witness painstakingly presented the court with photographs and documents on Wednesday in an effort to establish that more than a dozen looted artifacts had made their way into the Getty’s collection. Marion True, the former Getty curator, is charged with conspiring to acquire illicitly excavated antiquities for the museum. Several of the pieces discussed on Wednesday by the prosecution witness, Daniela Rizzo, are now on view at the presidential palace in Rome as part of an exhibition of objects recovered from American museums in the last two years. Ms. Rizzo repeatedly projected an image of an artifact onto a screen next to a photograph of the same piece in a dirt-encrusted, unrestored state. For most of the pieces, she said, acquisition documents provided by the Getty did not cite the object’s provenance. “If it came from an authorized dig, it would say so and give a date,” she said. “The fact that it doesn’t makes you think, doesn’t it?” Ms. True and the American dealer Robert Hecht, who is on trial with her on similar charges, have both proclaimed their innocence. The next trial hearing is scheduled for mid-March.

February 21, 2008

What will happen to the old Acropolis Museum?

Posted at 1:53 pm in Acropolis, New Acropolis Museum

I had often wondered (& never had a clear answer) what would happen to the existing (old) Acropolis Museum once the New Acropolis Museum opened. It appear now that it may be used jointly as an exhibition gallery & café serving drinks. The latter feature will definitely be welcomed by anyone who has visited the Acropolis during the day in the middle of summer.

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Thursday February 21, 2008
Old Acropolis Museum as cafe?

The old Acropolis Museum, located next to the Parthenon, may be converted into a snack bar, Culture Ministry officials heard yesterday.

Government officials and Culture Ministry representatives discussed the possibility of the renovated museum staging a photographic exhibition, outlining the history of the Acropolis, as well as a cafe of some sort. The idea of an exhibition was embraced by everyone. But reservations were expressed over the possibility of a snack bar due to fears that chairs and tables would be scattered around under the Parthenon. According to the ministry’s museums department, the old museum should only serve water and soft drinks.
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