Showing results 1 - 12 of 28 for the month of February, 2010.

February 26, 2010

Is the declaration on the importance of Universal Museums still valid?

Posted at 2:08 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

A few years ago, various major museums around the world released a declaration on the Importance & Value of Universal Museums – a declaration that was essentially an attempt at justifying their own modus operandi. Whether they call themselves Universal, Encyclopaedic or Enlightenment museums, it seems that in their own eyes they must continue to exist in their current form,, rather than dealing with the various repatriation issues that affect them.

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.

David Gill has posed the question whether the Declaration on the Value and Importance of Universal Museums should be considered as worthless in view of the fact that the main objective of providing immunity against restitution claims has not been achieved. With regard to the restitutions made by major US American institutions to Italy – Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Princeton University’s Art Museum .- he states:

“Such repatriations perhaps demonstrate the flawed thinking behind the “Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums”.
Read the rest of this entry »

February 24, 2010

Lewis Chessmen… or Norwegian Chessmen?

Posted at 10:01 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Scottish MP Angus MacNeil is annoyed about the British Museum’s depiction of the Lewis Chessmen as Norwegian with no mention of the fact that they were found in Scotland before ending up in the British Museum.

The Times

February 24, 2010
MPs angered by ‘Norwegian’ Chessmen

The British Museum has been accused of “airbrushing” history after a poster campaign claimed the world famous Lewis Chessmen were from Norway, and failed to mention any connection to Scotland at all.

Angus MacNeil, the Nationalist MP for the Western Isles, wants the posters removed or the reference to Norway replaced by Lewis. Mr MacNeil, who has raised the issue at Westminster, described the promotional campaign as a “total cheek”.
Read the rest of this entry »

Pierce Brosnan supports the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece

Posted at 9:54 pm in Elgin Marbles

Actor Pierce Brosnan has been in Athens as publicity for his latest film. Whilst doing a television interview, he was asked about the Parthenon Sculptures & expressed his support for their return.

Interviewer: I have a question about the Parthenon Marbles which are now in the British Museum
Pierce: The Elgin Marbles?
Interviewer: The Parthenon, as we say…
Pierce: The Parthenon. They Should come back. They should come back. Sure. You should have them. They’re yours.

February 22, 2010

Not everyone wants the Cyrus Cylinder to return to Iran

Posted at 8:15 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

As a reminder that there are at least two sides (& sometimes many more than that) to any issue, some Iranian’s would prefer that the Cyrus Cylinder wasn’t loaned to their country by the British Museum.

Their campaign is based on the fact that they do not believe that the government has any plans to safeguard any heritage that doesn’t relate to the Islamic Republic’s current worldview. Unfortunately though they may find that even under a different government (when they might want the artefact returned), the British Museum would be no more likely to return the artefact than they are now.

Read the petition here.

The Magdala treasures in the British Museum

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

Many years after they were originally taken from Ethiopia during a punitive exhibition by the British army, the Magdala treasures in various institutions in the UK continue to be a source of contention. There has been little headway towards any sort of comprehensive assessment of whether any of these artefacts can be repatriated, despite the fact that they have a religious & cultural significance for many Ethiopians whereas in the UK many of them are not even on public display.


Should Britain return Africa’s stolen treasures?
BY Davina Morris
Published: 21 February 2010 – Issue: 1411

FANS of the ‘90s BBC comedy show The Real McCoy may remember the sketch when pro-African activist Babylon (played by Felix Dexter) urged black Britons to head down to the British Museum with a big bin liner to “tek back your tings!”

Though the sketch was intended to be comedic (and it was), it highlighted the ongoing issue of whether British institutions should return the many cultural items they possess that were taken from Africa years ago.
Read the rest of this entry »

February 21, 2010

The New Acropolis Museum – a building of lightness & solidity

Posted at 6:32 pm in New Acropolis Museum

Although it is now more than six months since the official opening of the building, positive reviews of the New Acropolis Museum keep on coming. This review is from an architectural specification magazine, hence the focus on the materials that the building is constructed from.

Specifier (Australia)

Issue 189
The New Acropolis Museum by Bernard Tschumi
Writer: Robbie Moore

In mid-2007, the Old Acropolis Museum shut its doors. Its collection of giants and centaurs, metopes, pediments and parts of the Parthenon Frieze, were wrapped in plastic shrouds and packed in reinforced wooden boxes, and hauled into the air over Athens. The artworks, some weighing two and a half tonnes, were passed between Europe’s three largest lifting cranes on their way to their new, €130 million home. Now, two years later, the New Acropolis Museum – one of the most significant and frankly political cultural projects of the last decade – has finally opened its doors.

The New Acropolis Museum is as much about the artifacts it’s missing as about the artifacts it holds. Its top-floor gallery, rotated 23 degrees to align with the Parthenon, makes a plain and eloquent case for the return of the Elgin Marbles. The gallery contains a small number of real pieces from the Parthenon, alongside replicas of artifacts taken two hundred years ago by Lord Elgin and now residing in the British Museum. The replicas were not given a fake weathered patina, but were left a perfect, toothpaste white. The contrast with the ancient stones is striking, and deliberate. This is a memorial as much as a museum, mourning a loss.

The architect of the New Acropolis Museum, Bernard Tschumi, is a supporter of the cause. His design destroys an argument used by the British since the 1970s, that Athens was too polluted with smoke and sulphur dioxide to look after the marbles. Athens’ air had already improved with the new metro system and the pedestrianisation of the historic district, but Tschumi further protects the museum’s antiquities with a sophisticated, highly controlled micro-environment. The Caryatids, for instance, were sealed behind glass in the Old Acropolis Museum, but here stand free. The interior conditions are easily preferable to those in the British Museum. The Elgin Marbles are surrounded by four walls and lit from above by diffuse daylight and spotlights, while the New Acropolis Museum’s Parthenon Gallery is open on all sides to the unblinking Greek sun. The works can be viewed, therefore, in the conditions they were intended. “Now that the building is finished and everybody will be able to see the quality of light that you get here”, Tschumi told Wallpaper*, “and the way they will be displayed here compared to the way they are displayed in the British Museum, the return [of the Elgin Marbles] will make sense straight away”.
Read the rest of this entry »

February 20, 2010

University College London’s museums ask the public what items to deacccession

Posted at 10:41 pm in Similar cases

In stark contrast to the rigid anti-deaccessioning policies of institutions such as the British Museum, University College London is asking the public to give their views on which of the items in their collection should be sold off to free up space for new artefacts.


London Museum Asks Public What to Pitch
By Gaëlle Faure / London
Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009

If you’re the type of person who has trouble throwing anything out, then the job of collections reviewer at the University College London’s museums might not be for you. The college is embarking upon a purge of its assorted collections, some 250,000 items in total, only 2% of which are currently on display. A gargantuan task, surely, but the college is not doing it on its own — officials have taken the unusual step of opening the process up to the public. They’re asking visitors what they should keep, what they should give away to other museums — one institution’s trash is another’s treasure — or, as a last resort, what they should just throw away.

“Disposal is still a dirty word. Most museum people are too scared to use it,” says Jayne Dunn, UCL’s collections manager. “We work for the public, but no one’s ever thought of asking them what they want.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Caring about the Parthenon Sculptures for the right reasons

Posted at 10:31 pm in British Museum, New Acropolis Museum

Constantine Sandis looks back at the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures following the opening of the New Acropolis Museum. The New Acropolis Museum is compared to the British Museum’s concept of the universal museum, showing that both museums exhibit universalism, but in different forms. More importantly though, he asks whether both sides have lost site of the true issue of what is best for the sculptures.

The Liberal

The New Acropolis
by Constantine Sandis

Dull is the eye that will not weep to see
Thy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removed
By British hands, which it had best behoved,
To guard those relics ne’er to be restored.

Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto XV, 3-6.

Last summer, the New Acropolis Museum in Athens opened its gates, not only to the public but also to a flood of arguments and emotions old and new. The root cause of this commotion lies in the fact that nearly half of the sculptures which originally graced the Parthenon have been residing in the British Museum, ever since they were purchased from the bankrupt Lord Elgin in 1816. Numerous smaller fragments, it is often forgotten, are kept by other museums across Europe.
Read the rest of this entry »

Ten famous cases of disputed artefacts in museums

Posted at 10:17 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Among the vast numbers of disputed artefacts in museums & galleries, some have a high profile, whilst others are barely known. Time Magazine has attempted to draw up a list of what they feel are some of the most currently significant cases.

This article was published a few months ago, but I only recently came across it – explaining the fact that the information on the Louvre’s Egyptian Frescos is already out of date.


Top 10 Plundered Artifacts
History is big business. Plundered art and antiquities trade to the tune of at least $3 billion a year, much to the chagrin of nations struggling to reclaim their lost artifacts. In honor of a recent spat between the Egyptian government and the Louvre museum in Paris over the fate of fresco fragments, TIME examines 10 plundered antiquities and the conflicts they’ve created.

The Louvre’s Egyptian Frescos

A set of ancient fresco fragments is at the center of a nasty feud between Paris’s Louvre Museum and the Egyptian government. Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt’s antiquities department, claims the Louvre bought the fragments last year despite knowing they were taken from a tomb in Egypt’s storied Valley of the Kings in the 1980s, a prime spot for grave-robbers. Egypt, which has made reclaiming ancient art taken from its country a top priority, said they would sever cooperation with the Louvre unless the fragments were returned. A museum representative claimed on Oct. 7 that the Louvre was unaware the fragments were stolen, and said the museum would consider sending the fresco pieces back to Egypt.
Read the rest of this entry »

Three different viewpoints on museums and restitution

Posted at 7:56 pm in Similar cases

The journal of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, the Museological Review, has chosen to focus their most recent edition on the issues surrounding museums, deaccessioning & restitution.

In the first piece, Clare Blakey writes about some of the restitution demands made by Italy to the Getty Museum & the Metropolitan Museum in the USA.

The second article by Jennifer Jankauskas examines some of the ethical concerns which underpin the issue of deacccessioning in American Art Museums.

Finale, Dietrich Heißenbüttel takes a look at German art from the 1930s & 1940s, arguing for museums to take a different approach to restitution demands.

You can read the entire magazine online here.

February 19, 2010

Could new documents prove legitimate ownership of the Codex Sinaiticus by the British Library?

Posted at 2:03 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

New research suggests that the portions of the Codex Sinaiticus in the British Library may have been legally acquired. I doubt that this will be the end of disputes surrounding the document however.


Controversy over ancient Greek Bible resolved in Russia
Published 18 February, 2010, 18:05

A document which confirms the British Library’s ownership of Codex Sinaiticus, an ancient hand-written copy of the Greek Bible, has been found in the archives of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The agreement was signed in 1869 by the archbishop of the St. Catherine Monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai and a representative of the Russian Empire.
Read the rest of this entry »

New Acropolis Museum president to visit Cyprus

Posted at 1:55 pm in New Acropolis Museum

Professor Dimitrios Pantermalis is visiting Nicosia next week to give a lecture about the New Acropolis Museum.

Cyprus Mail

President of Acropolis Museum in Cyprus
Published on February 17, 2010

PRESIDENT of the New Acropolis Museum, archaeologist Dimitrios Pantermalis, will visit Cyprus next week and will give a lecture in Nicosia.

According to an announcement issued by the Cyprus Department of Antiquities, which is organising the lecture, Pantermanis will speak on the New Acropolis Museum, its Architecture and its Exhibition Programme.