September 3, 2006

Imperialism, Art & Restitution

Posted at 11:38 am in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology

William St Clair has notified me of the publication of a new book relating to the Elgin Marbles. I understand from him that his paper in this book was originally intended to be in a follow-up to the book The Parthenon & Its Sculptures published in 2004. That book was based on a series of lectures given a conference on the Parthenon Marbles at the University of Missouri. The first book in the series reflected on the archaeological aspects of the case & originally the second book was supposed to contain those lectures that referred to the political aspects. For various reasons, the second volume was unpublished. Some of the papers that would have been contained in the later volume have been added to other lectures from a different conference in this new book edited by John Henry Merryman.

Cambridge University Press

Imperialism, Art and Restitution
Edited by John Henry Merryman
Stanford University, California
(ISBN-13: 9780521859295 | ISBN-10: 0521859298)
Published August 2006 | 278 pages | 228 x 152 mm


This book is about the repatriation, or not, of great works of art and antiquity taken during the Age of Imperialism and held today by European and American museums. The Elgin Marbles are the most famous example, but there are thousands of others. The nations of origin, supported by UNESCO, want these cultural treasures returned, while the museums unsurprisingly prefer to keep them. Public interest in the outcome runs high. In this volume prominent museum and government officials and leading scholars consider the ultimate disposition of the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum, the bust of Nefertiti in Berlin, and American Indian artifacts and human remains in American museums.

John Henry Merryman is the Sweitzer Professor of Law Emeritus and Affiliated Professor in the Department of Art Emeritus at Stanford University.



Willard L. Boyd, Rawlings–Miller Professor of Law and President Emeritus, University of Iowa, and The Field Museum of Chicago

Michael F. Brown, Lambert Professor of Anthropology and Latin American Studies, Williams College

Margaret M. Bruchac, Abenaki, Repatriation Research Liaison for the Five College Repatriation Committee in the Connecticut Valley of Massachusetts, and Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

James Cuno, President and Director, The Art Institute of Chicago

John O. Haley, Wiley B. Rutledge Professor of Law and Director, The Whitney R. Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies, School of Law, Washington University in St. Louis

Talat Halman, Turkey’s First Minister of Culture

John Henry Merryman, Sweitzer Professor of Law Emeritus and Affiliated Professor in the Department of Art Emeritus, Stanford University

Kurt G. Siehr, M.C.L. (Ann Arbor), Dr. iur. (Hamburg), Ph.D. (Zürich)

William St Clair, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge

David Hurst Thomas, Curator, Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History

Stephen K. Urice, Director, Project for Cultural Heritage Law and Policy, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Lecturer-in-Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School


The papers collected in this volume were first presented at a conference held at the Washington University School of Law on March 26–27, 2004. The conference was the fourth in a series of annual symposia organized and sponsored by the Whitney R. Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies. The complete proceedings, including the original presentation of each article in this volume with the discussion that followed, remain available in the Institute’s electronic archive of all of its principal conferences at–2004/ImperialismArtResti- tutionConf04.html.

The topic and title of the conference – Imperialism, Art and Restitution – originated with John Henry Merryman. His intellectual vision and organizing acumen made the event possible. Without his efforts neither the conference nor this volume could have been realized. Others also share credit. First and foremost are those who participated in the symposium as principal presenters, whose contributions are collected here, as well as the moderators and discussants: Michael Cosmopoulos (University of Missouri–St. Louis), Steven Gunn (Washington University), Michael Kelly (Creighton University), Serena Stier and Pamela Trimpe (University of Iowa), Susan Rotoff and Sarantis Symeonoglou (Washington University), Frederike Seligman and Mark Weil (Washington University).

A special note of appreciation needs to be extended to the Washington University School of Art, which, with the support of its Dean, Jeffrey Pike, cosponsored the event. Others whose guidance, support and various forms of assistance require mention here include Joel Seligman, currently President of the University of Rochester, whose leadership and enthusiasm have been vital to the life of the Harris Institute since its founding during his tenure as Dean of the School of Law. Whitney and Anna Harris were active participants and from inception enthusiastic supporters of the conference. Robert Archibald, President of the Missouri Historical Society, provided useful advice. No program of this magnitude could have been successful, however, without the energy and dedication of Linda McClain, the Harris Institute’s especially able conference coordinator.

I would like to extend a final word of appreciation to the editors of Cambridge University Press, who by making this volume possible have given permanence to the presentations in St. Louis, thereby enabling the ideas and intellectual contributions of the authors to reach a broader audience in both place and time.

John O. Haley

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