Showing 8 results for the month of March, 2011.

March 24, 2011

Reclaiming artefacts that have gone astray

Posted at 2:06 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Looting of artefacts, particularly during invasions & times of occupation, is something that has gone on for thousands of years. More recently though, some cases have gained a much higher profile & in some instances, this has led to the disputed artefacts being voluntarily returned.

The National (UAE)

Homelands seek to reclaim art gone astray
Anna Blundy
Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011

According to the Book of Chronicles in the Bible’s Old Testament, “King Shishak of Egypt attacked Jerusalem and took away the treasures of the Lord’s temple and of the royal palace. He took everything, including the gold shields that Solomon had made.”

Seizing the artworks of a country or a people has always been used as a politically motivated cultural rape in times of conflict. Thus, artworks of disputed ownership have always been in the news. Just last week Germany again rejected Egypt’s demand to return its 3,350-year-old bust of Nefertiti, and there have been battles over ancient Etruscan artwork and Aztec artefacts, not to mention the Elgin Marbles, a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural artefacts that were part of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. They were brought to Britain by Lord Elgin in the early 1800s, remain in the British Museum and look likely to stay there.
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March 17, 2011

The case for the restitution of the William Wallace passport

Posted at 2:07 pm in Similar cases

Another week, another restitution case that gets compared to the Parthenon Marbles. While these cases may well have their own merits for return, any sort of comparison with other cases can be very misleading, particularly where the Parthenon Sculptures are concerned. setting aside any issues of how they were acquired, the Parthenon Marbles were part of a greater whole, both in terms of the remaining surviving sculptures & in terms of the building of which they formed an integral part. In other words, their context was fixed – they were not designed to be seen anywhere else other than in the context of the Acropolis. Many other artefacts however, were never designed for a specific location – their cases is purely one of ownership, meaning that it has far less weight to it than the Parthenon Sculptures do.

Slugger O’Toole

From the Elgin Marbles to An Gal Gréine via William Wallace
Sat 29 January 2011, 9:42am

This week there have been renewed demands for the “repatriation” to Scotland of the 14th Century “William Wallace Passport”, presently held in the National Archives in Kew. As The Scotsman points out:

The case is set to inflame cross-border tensions in a manner befitting Wallace himself.
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When will Germany deal seriously with Egypt’s requests for the Nefertiti bust return?

Posted at 1:45 pm in Similar cases

Despite repeated requests, various museums holding Egyptian artefacts seem reluctant to ever enter into any sort of serious negotiations over the disputed pieces, instead meeting any return requests with an immediate rebuttal.

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Fri, 28 Jan 2011

“On the other hand, even after giving away the colourful bust of Nefertiti, the Berlin Museum would still be far superior to all other collections, including that in Cairo, as regards the number and artistic value of the artworks from the Amarna period. And among our stock are many pieces that are of higher artistic rank than the elegant bust of the colourful queen”.
James Simon, 28 June 1930 (1)

The latest argument for detaining Nefertiti is clear evidence that the holders of the cultural property of others have no valid reason for depriving them of their cultural symbols. (2)
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March 14, 2011

Iran warns France over return of Louvre artefacts

Posted at 1:29 pm in Similar cases

In a similar way to last years dispute with the British Museum, Iran is now threatening to withdraw cultural ties with France, if the Louvre does not proceed with a planed exhibition within an agreed timescale.

Channel News Asia

Iran warns France over Louvre artefacts: report
Posted: 31 January 2011 2028 hrs

TEHRAN – Tehran has warned it will cut cultural ties with France if renowned Paris museum The Louvre fails to set up an exhibition of Persian artefacts in Iran as agreed, an official was Monday cited as saying.

“If this museum (The Louvre) fails to fulfill its commitment with the (Iranian) Cultural Heritage Organisation in the next two months, then we will cut cultural ties with France,” head of the organisation Hamid Baghai was quoted as saying by Tehran Emrouz newspaper.
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March 13, 2011

Are artefacts really safer in the museums of the West?

Posted at 4:24 pm in Similar cases

Museums (generally those in the Western World, that have artefacts that others want returned) have long argued that they safely look after their collections, preserving them with a level of care that would not be possible elsewhere. Stories such as the one below however, remind us that there is no guaranteed safety anywhere in the world. And surely it is all the more upsetting for the original owners if they were denied access to their own artefacts, only to see them destroyed or damaged, while in the care of another institution?

An earlier article about the reconstruction of the sculptures follows at the end of the first one.

Press TV

Berlin exhibits shattered WWII statues
Thu Jan 27, 2011 6:55PM
The German city of Berlin has mounted an exhibition of ancient statues and stone reliefs nearly destructed during bombings of the World War II.

The Tell Halaf Adventure displays 3,000-year-old basalt statues unearthed in present-day Syria a century ago.

The sculptures were broken into thousands of pieces during 1943 bombings and kept in the vaults of the capital’s Pergamon Museum and then in East Berlin.
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Why now is the time for the return of Montezuma’s crown to Mexico

Posted at 4:11 pm in Similar cases

Kwame Opoku writes about the case of the crown of Montezuma, currently held by Austria. Mexico has been seeking the return of this artefacts for a number of years now, although Austria claims that it was legally acquired.

Modern Ghana

Author: Kwame Opoku, Dr.


According to information in the Austrian papers Standard, Kurier, and Kronen Zeitung, Austria seems finally willing to return the Montezuma Crown which Mexico has been claiming for decades without any success. (1) It appears the return will be a temporary loan in exchange for a temporary loan of a gilded carriage used by Emperor Maximilian I in the nineteenth century that is now in the National Museum of Mexico.

We have always been of the view that Austria should return this artefact which means very little to Austria (2) and a lot more to Mexico, the only State that protested against the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. This act alone, in our opinion, should be sufficient ground for returning Montezuma’s crown. But the Austrian authorities, misled by the ideas of the ethnologists, museum directors and the false prophets in the British Museum, Berlin, Chicago and elsewhere, have up to now refused to contemplate the eventuality of returning the crown. (3)
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The artefacts that are not on display at the British Museum

Posted at 4:02 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Deaccessioning is a problematic topic for many museums – particularly those in the UK, where the law prohibits many of them from disposing of artefacts except in certain very specific circumstances. It is however, an issue that remains on the agenda – not least because whilst budgets of museums are cut, the size of their collections is ever increasing, yet much of it is never on public display. Institutions such as the British Museum hide behind the anti-deaccessioning clauses in their governing act of parliament, as a way of avoiding any sort of serious debate in many restitution cases. Surely though, there should be some more easy mechanism for downsizing vast collections, or loaning the items out on a more long term basis.

Many museums arguing that by keeping items in the public realm, they are serving an important educational purpose. It must be considered however, that if many of the items are not on display, the public is generally unaware of their existence (yet at the same time continues to pay for their storage & upkeep).

BBC News

19 January 2011 Last updated at 06:30
London museums urged to show more ‘hidden’ artefacts

Museums in London are being urged to get more of their collections out of storage and on display as funding cuts will mean fewer landmark exhibitions.

Many museums in the capital keep more than 90% of their collections stored away.
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March 3, 2011

Nearly two hundred thousand visit the Cyrus Cylinder in Iran

Posted at 1:53 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Despite, or maybe because of the current controversy surrounding its ownership & loan, the Cyrus Cylinder has attracted large numbers of visitors, during its temporary return to Iran.

Tehran Times

Cyrus Cylinder draws about 190,000 visitors to National Museum of Iran
Tehran Times Culture Desk
January 27, 2011

TEHRAN — About 190,000 people visited the Cyrus Cylinder exhibit at the National Museum of Iran (NMI). The artifact was loaned by the British Museum on September 10, 2010 to the National Museum of Iran for a four-month show that ended on January 10.
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