Showing results 13 - 24 of 46 for the month of November, 2010.

November 19, 2010

A history of the world in 100 objects

Posted at 2:01 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Neil MacGregor’s immense Radio 4 series on the History of the World in 100 Objects has now finished & the book is available. What is interesting about the series though is how easily people were able to create a mental picture of the artefacts in question through MacGregor’s descriptions. In many ways a series that one would have expected to be on television because of its heavily visual aspect, in fact worked equally well on radio.

This fact (that you not only didn’t need to be there – nor even see the artefacts) at the same time could arguably undermine the British Museum’s on many issues. The museum would rather casts of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece than return the real thing – yet at the same time, it is becoming clear that actually being there with the real version of the sculptures isn’t perhaps as necessary to their understanding as the museum wants it to be.

Daily Telegraph

A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor: review
By John Adamson
Published: 6:00AM BST 24 Oct 2010

The series A History of the World in 100 Objects shouldn’t have worked on radio but did, triumphantly. John Adamson wonders how Neil MacGregor’s world history will fare on the page

By most rational calculations, the original idea behind this enterprise was entirely mad. Attempting to write a history of the world, in any guise, is usually clear evidence of megalomania. Organising it, not as broad chapters on periods or themes, but as a series of 100 short essays about physical objects would seem to make the undertaking impossible from the outset. Deciding to deliver those essays through the one medium guaranteed to render the subjects of these essays wholly invisible – radio – would seem to move from the impossible to the perverse.
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Iran identifies 800 looted Persian artefacts artefacts in two European galleries

Posted at 9:08 am in Similar cases

On a similar them to the Chinese discovery that there are potentially 23,000 looted artefacts from their country in the British Museum, Iran’s National Museum Curator has identified 800 Persian artefacts in two galleries in Europe.

Press TV

‘800 Iranian artifacts found in Europe’
Wed Oct 27, 2010

Iran’s National Museum Curator Azadeh Ardakani says the museum has identified 800 Persian historical objects in two European galleries.

“Iran’s National Museum has identified almost 800 Persian artifacts, which have been smuggled to two foreign galleries from 1940 to 1984,” Fars news agency quoted Ardakani as saying on Wednesday.
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November 18, 2010

SAFE awards Delaware Attorney for prosecuting art crimes

Posted at 10:17 pm in Similar cases

David Hall, the Assistant US Attorney for the District of Delaware, has been awarded a Beacon Award by SAFE for his efforts to prosecute art crimes.


Oct 25, 2010 posted by: Mari Lou-WGMD News
District of DE Asst US Attorney awarded for prosecuting art crimes

Two separate investigations ended in the seizure of a fraudulent Andrew Wyeth painting that was to be auctioned and the seizure of Mesopotamian antiquities that were at some time smuggled into the US unlawfully from Iraq. As a result Assistant US Attorney for the District of Delaware, David Hall is being honored with one of 4 2010 SAFE – Saving Antiquities for Everyone – Beacon Awards, for his work as the special prosecutor of the FBI’s Art Crime Team.
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The British Museum holds more looted Chinese artefacts than any other institution

Posted at 10:08 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

For some time, China has been trying to catalogue the vast numbers of looted Chinese artefacts that have ended up in museums & private collections around the world. Based on data from UNESCO, it appears that of all the Museums holding disputed artefacts, the British Museum has by far the most with twenty three thousand in its collection (only two thousand of which are part of its permanent displays).

People’s Daily

British Museum holds highest number of looted Chinese relics
15:57, October 25, 2010

Data from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) shows that a total of more than 1.6 million Chinese cultural relics looted in the past are now housed in 47 museums worldwide, and the British Museum collected the largest number of them.

Currently, it has collected a total of 23,000 Chinese relics, and about 2,000 Chinese relics are on long-term display in the museum.
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What remains of China’s Yuanmingyuan 150 years after being looted by the British?

Posted at 9:58 pm in Similar cases

One hundred and fifty years after the looting & destruction of Beijing’s Summer Palace under the instruction of the Eighth Earl of Elgin (son of the seventh earl who removed the sculptures from the Parthenon), China is still trying to retrieve some of their cultural treasures that were taken following the event.

New York Times

China Remembers a Vast Crime
Published: October 21, 2010

BEIJING — In early October of 1860, the commanders of the British and French forces waging war on Qing Dynasty China held a tense conference outside the gates of the Garden of Perfect Brightness — Yuanmingyuan — on the western outskirts of Beijing.

Victory was at hand, the emperor having fled on an “autumnal hunting tour,” and the meeting concerned its spoils: Each side feared the other would obtain more booty from looting the huge complex.
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E-petition for the return of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum to Athens

Posted at 9:51 pm in Elgin Marbles

The Bring Them Back campaign for the reunification of the surviving Parthenon Marbles in the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, hopes to collect one million signatures on the petition on their website by the end of this year.

PR Newswire

E – Petition for the Return of the Parthenon Sculptures (With Video)
ATHENS, Greece, October 21, 2010 /PRNewswire/

After an impressive start of 134.000 citizens from around the world having singed the e-petition for the return of the Parthenon sculptures, initiatives and actions are now being intensified to inform the public and enhance participation. The aim of the campaign is to collect 1,000,000 signatures by December 31st, required to set the matter in the European Parliament and thus create international pressure for the return of the sculptures.

The petition voting page along with the promotional video can be found at:
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New York writer Adam Gopnik speaks about the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 2:05 pm in Elgin Marbles

Writer Adam Gopnik has a very weak argument for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, that tries to take its logical conclusion that if they were returned it would mean that every painting in the world would go back to its country of origin. This is an argument that has been disproved many times in the past, but sadly continues to be repeated by many people on a regular basis.

Kentucky Kernel

New Yorker writer speaks on art ownership, Elgin Marbles
October 18, 2010 by Martha Groppo

A butterscotch pudding in the oven made Adam Gopnik late for his Kentucky Kernel interview. It was fitting; the book author and staff writer for the New Yorker has several things cooking at any given time.

In his articles for the New Yorker, Gopnik has written about diverse topics from Winston Churchill to Shakespeare to life in Paris. Gopnik has also been an art critique and an art historian and has done work with the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Gopnik will bring his art experience to UK to discuss the Elgin Marbles on Monday night in the Worsham Theatre as the first speaker of this year’s Bale Boone Symposium.
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November 17, 2010

An interview with former Getty Curator Marion True following her trial in Italy

Posted at 11:08 pm in Similar cases

Following the End of Marion True’s trial in Italy, she is now able to speak freely about the case. What is revealed in this interview suggests that the trial was far more of a political exercise than it was one specifically aimed at her. It also suggests that the Getty was quick to distance itself from the whole thing & jumped at the opportunity to write things off as the actions of a single person – an approach that suggests a complete lack of accountability within the Museum in terms of due diligence when acquiring artefacts.

The New Yorker

October 14, 2010
Marion True on her Trial and Ordeal
Posted by Hugh Eakin

On Wednesday morning, in a Roman courtroom, the long-running criminal case against the former Getty Museum curator Marion True was dismissed. In less than ten minutes of deliberation, judges approved a motion by True’s lawyers to stop the proceedings—which, as I described in The New Yorker back in 2007, concerned classical art of allegedly illicit Italian provenance acquired by the Getty Museum in the nineteen-seventies, eighties, and nineties—because the statute of limitations on all charges had expired.

It was a paradoxical end to a trial that has run for more than five years and has been a fulcrum of Italy’s efforts to reclaim major works from leading American collections. Since the trial began, no fewer than five museums—as well as several prominent collectors and dealers—have entered agreements to relinquish prize examples of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art to Italy. The American Association of Art Museum Directors has adopted strict new guidelines for acquiring antiquities (pdf), and many museums have all but given up on buying classical art.
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A history of Neil MacGregor’s vision of the British Museum in one hundred (mostly legitimately acquired) artefacts

Posted at 10:54 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Anyone who listens to Radio Four in the UK (& many who don’t) will have found it hard to avoid Neil MacGregor’s regular appearances on the radio to tell his version of the history of the world in one hundred objects. The story he tells though is often very much the story that the British Museum wants people to hear – in cases where there are questions over the ownership of the object in question, these are glossed over, to focus on other aspects that are deemed to be more interesting. Whilst many have eulogised about the power of this series along MacGregor’s excellent ability to create an image of the object through his narration, transcending the limitations of radio, others are not entirely convinced.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010
A History of the World in Looted Objects

The most remarkable thing about the British Museum’s forthcoming collaboration with the BBC — A History of the World in 100 Objects — is the almost total lack of critical response to the project from any quarter save for a few lonely voices of indignation echoing from the African subcontinent.

Instead we’ve witnessed a nauseating media hagiography of British Museum director Neil MacGregor in which he single-handedly educates the world from the comfort of his beautiful Bloomsbury office. We hear of “Saint Neil”, a “suave and smooth-talking Scot”, with a “lilting highland brogue”, a “skilled diplomat” with “infectious schoolboy enthusiasm”, a “natural storyteller” and “the most fortunate man alive.”
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Yale alumni demand the return of contested Machu Picchu artefacts to Peru

Posted at 2:03 pm in Similar cases

Twenty three Yale alumni who live in Peru have written to the University, urging the return of various disputed artefacts held by the University.

Yale Daily News

Alumni demand artifacts’ return
By Drew Henderson – Staff Reporter
Monday, October 18, 2010

Yale’s reluctance to return a trove of artifacts to Peru undermines the University’s efforts to build partnerships abroad, 23 alumni who reside in Peru wrote in a letter to University President Richard Levin last month.

The authors of the letter represent the majority of the 43 alumni living in Peru, Susan Rolfe ’89 said. Rolfe has lived in Peru since 1994, and now coordinates the local Yale Alumni Association. The letter urges Levin to hasten the return of the artifacts and resolve the lawsuit currently pending in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.
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Keeping cultural treasures where they were created

Posted at 1:41 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

This is an old article, but I was only alerted to it a few weeks ago. It echoes my thoughts though, about the difference in approach to the Staffordshire Hoard (which should be kept where it was found) & the Parthenon Sculptures (which should be kept in the British Museum some 1000 miles from where they were originally designed to be).

The National (UAE)

When troves are treasured: priceless relics far from home
Ben East
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2010

Oh the irony. The popular historian David Starkey is leading a campaign to keep the largest-ever discovery of Anglo-Saxon treasure in England’s Midlands, where it was found last year. If £3.3 million (Dh20m) is not raised in three months, the hoard could be sold on the open market – and broken up. The UK’s minister of culture, Patricia Hodge, said she was “confident” the money could be found and “aware of how much the treasure had captured the imagination of the local people”.

This, of course, is all happening in the same country that “owns” Greece’s Parthenon Marbles (famously known as the Elgin Marbles), Egypt’s Rosetta Stone and Iran’s Cyrus Cylinder. The three precious treasures are stars of the historical warehouse that is the British Museum. A visit to the much-loved attraction immediately reveals that it’s barely a museum of the British at all – it’s a museum of the world. It’s difficult not to feel slightly guilty about many of the exhibits, which were plundered when the empire was at its height.
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November 16, 2010

Former Getty Museum Curator Marion True’s trial in Italy comes to an end (but with no verdict)

Posted at 10:44 pm in Similar cases

The long running trial of former Getty Curator Marion True has continued on & off for a number of years. It has now come to an end – not because any verdict has been reached, but because of the statute of limitations on the laws under which she was being tried brought an automatic end to the proceedings.

So, we are none the wiser about whether or not the trial would have been successful for Italy in securing a conviction (or securing the return of artefacts). Now that the legal action is over & people are able to speak more freely though, hopefully more details of the case will be revealed.

New York Times

Rome Trial of Ex-Getty Curator Ends
Published: October 13, 2010

ROME — The case against Marion True, the former curator of antiquities at the J.Paul Getty Museum, ended abruptly on Wednesday, after a court here ruled that the statute of limitations on her alleged crimes — receiving artifacts stolen from Italy and conspiring to deal in them — had expired.

The trial had dragged on intermittently for five years. Numerous witnesses testified for the prosecution, which argued that Ms. True knowingly bought ancient artifacts of dubious provenance for the collection of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The trial was widely believed to be the first instance of a museum curator facing criminal charges for such alleged crimes.
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