Quote of the Day

The days when foreign museums and private collectors uncontrollably bought antiquities without any identity or passport have gone for good.

Giorgos Voulgarakis, Former Hellenic Republic Minister of Culture

April 28, 2005

Deputy director of Benaki Museum to speak in Sydney about efforts to return Elgin Marbles

Posted at 5:51 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Deputy director of Benaki Museum Stavros Vlizos is speaking at this conference in Sydney on Tuesday 3rd May about the efforts to repatriate the Elgin Marbles.

From:
Sydney Morning Herald

Museum talks: fun and war
By Alexa Moses
April 29, 2005

Lord of the Rings or Uzbekistani embroidery? No prizes for guessing which recent exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum attracted more visitors.

The balance between scholarship and audience appeal is one of the topics 450 international and Australian museum experts will grapple with at Museums Australia’s national conference, Politics and Positioning, which begins in Sydney on Sunday. Museums Australia is the professional association for museum and gallery workers. Read the rest of this entry »

April 27, 2005

Belgium museum to return limestone relief to Egypt

Posted at 12:47 pm in Similar cases

A museum in Brussels has announced that it going to return a relief that was smuggled out of Egypt 30 years ago.

From:
Egypt Election

Ancient Egypt: EGYPT – The Mystery of the Lost Antiquities
Posted on Tuesday, April 26 @ 22:25:38 EDT
Topic: Ancient Egypt Information
The unceasing mysteries of Egypt’s antiquities
Brussels museum is to return a stolen 5th dynasty relief

CAIRO: A Brussels museum will hand over to Egypt a limestone relief that had been smuggled out of the country more than 30 years ago, an Egyptian antiquities official said Monday.

The Royal Museum of Art and History in Brussels, Belgium, agreed to return the relief, which was stolen from the Giza tomb of a 5th dynasty priest, Senenu, said Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. In return, an archaeological mission belonging to the museum will be allowed to continue its work in Egypt, he said.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 25, 2005

Final piece of Axum Obelisk arrives in Ethiopia

Posted at 8:05 pm in Similar cases

At last, this chapter in the history of the Axum Obelisk is closed. There is still debate going on within Ethiopia about whether it can be re-erected in its original location, or whether this may cause other complications.

As I have mentioned previously, the Ethiopians are now turning their efforts to other treasures that have been taken from their countries in the past.

From:
The Guardian

3rd Piece of Axum Obelisk Back in Ethiopia
Monday April 25, 2005 10:46 AM

By ANTHONY MITCHELL
Associated Press Writer

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) – The third and final piece of the Axum obelisk was returned to Ethiopia from Italy on Monday, as thousands cheered the end of an almost 70-year dispute over a symbol of African civilization stolen by European troops as a war prize.

“This is the land of the Queen of Sheba, and the obelisk belongs here,” said Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giogis, wiping tears of joy from his eyes. “I never thought I would be alive to see its return.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Are antique dealers stealing the past or preserving it?

Posted at 8:00 pm in Similar cases

A fascinating article about the ethics of collectors / dealers of artworks & cultural artefacts & whether or not they are able to take the moral high ground in their belief that they are preserving rather than destroying the works.

From:
Reason Online

April 2005
Ancient Treasures for Sale
Do antique dealers preserve the past or steal it?

Steven Vincent

As you read this, criminals somewhere in the world are destroying portions of mankind’s past. With backhoe and shovel, chainsaw and crowbar, they are wrenching priceless objects from sites in the mountains of Peru, the coasts of Sicily, and the deserts of Iraq. Brutal and uncaring, these robbers leave behind a wake of decapitated statues, mutilated temples, and pillaged trenches where archaeologists were seeking clues to little-understood civilizations. The results of this looting include disfigured architectural monuments, vanished aesthetic objects, and an incalculable loss of information about the past. And it shows no signs of diminishing.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 23, 2005

British Museum agrees to loan of Ethiopian holy Tabots

Posted at 12:04 pm in Similar cases

The Ethiopians appear to be doing rather well at reclaiming their heritage at the moment.
Following on from various articles last year about how the Tabots were locked away in the Museum store, where not even the director was allowed to see them, they are now leaving the museum on (permanent?) loan to an Ethiopian church in London.

The British Museum is also co-operating on the development of new museums in Ethiopia.

I’m assuming that this announcement has little to do with the requests made by the Ethiopians earlier this week for the return of various cultural treasures, as this has to have been under discussion for a long time before that. Something seems a bit odd about the timing though, that the two events should occur in such close succession – In some ways it negates the Ethiopians request, as it appears that the BM is doing something to respond to it, whereas if they had made their request a few days later, it could have instead ridden on the back of the publicity surrounding the loan of the Tabots, to highlight how many other items still remained in the museum.

Is this a sign of a softening in approach by the British Museum towards the repatriation of cultural treasures?

From:
The Art Newspaper

Holy tabots to be transferred from British Museum to Ethiopian church
The works will probably never return to the museum

LONDON. The British Museum has agreed to transfer its Ethiopian tabots (or holy tablets) to a church in London. Later this year the Ethiopians are expected to take over a redundant Anglican church, and a crypt or secure room will then be set aside to house the symbolically-charged wooden objects, which represent the Ark of the Covenant. The museum has agreed to a five-year extendible loan and the tabots may well never again return to the museum. The arrangement has the blessing of the Patriarch, Abba Paulos.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 21, 2005

Ethiopia requests that Britain returns plundered treasures

Posted at 1:08 pm in Similar cases

Following their success in the return of the Axum Obelisk earlier this week, the Ethiopian government has now requested the Britain returns a number of looted Ethiopian artefacts.

From:
The Times

The Times
April 20, 2005

Britain told by Ethiopia to give back treasures
By Richard Beeston

ETHIOPIA has appealed to Britain to match Italy’s gesture by repatriating hundreds of artefacts plundered by the British Army in the 19th century.

Fisseha Adugna, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to London, told The Times: “We wish to encourage all others who possess Ethiopian cultural and sacred artefacts — both institutions and individuals — to graciously return them to Ethiopia.”
Read the rest of this entry »

April 19, 2005

Joy in Ethiopia as obelisk is returned

Posted at 1:21 pm in Similar cases

The Axum Obelisk is finally back in Ethiopia

From:
CNN

Joy as obelisk returns to Ethiopia

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 Posted: 7:50 AM EDT (1150 GMT)

AXUM, Ethiopia (Reuters)
Thousands of Ethiopians cheered and cried joyously as Italy on Tuesday returned the first piece of the Axum obelisk, an ancient national treasure Rome’s fascist regime plundered 68 years ago.

Cheers erupted as the massive cargo jet carrying the first piece of the funerary monument broke through the early-morning mist of the shrouded sky of Axum, a northern city that was the center of ancient Ethiopia’s civilization.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 14, 2005

Chinese fund for the return of national treasures

Posted at 3:35 pm in Similar cases

Following on from the previous article by China Radio International here is some more information about Zhang Yongnian’s attempts to get Chinese cultural treasures returned.

From:
China Radio International

Fund to Get National Treasures Back
2005-4-13 14:14:48
CRIENGLISH.com

China has lost more than one million cultural relics through warfare over the past century or so. From the Opium War in 1840 to the founding of the new China in 1949, countless treasures have been stolen.
Anchor:

China has lost more than one million cultural relics through warfare over the past century or so.

From the Opium War in 1840 to the founding of the new China in 1949, countless treasures have been stolen.

Most of the items are preserved in foreign museums.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 10, 2005

Ethiopians celebrate return of 160 tonne souvenir

Posted at 12:29 am in Similar cases

Another article on the return of the Axum Obelisk.
It will be interesting to see what implications this has on other cases from that period.

From:
The Scotsman

Ethiopians celebrate return of 160-ton ‘souvenir’ from Italy

ANDREW HEAVENS
IN AXUM, NORTHERN ETHIOPIA

ABEBE Alemyehu was 12 when he watched Benito Mussolini’s soldiers storm into the Ethiopian town of Axum to steal its ancient obelisk.

Now the 81-year-old is preparing to go out on the streets near his family compound once again, as a new generation of Italians bring the sacred monument back.

Later this month, Italy is due to return the first part of the 24m high 160-ton tower of granite, almost 70 years after its soldiers seized it during fascist Italy’s brief occupation of Ethiopia in the build-up to the Second World War.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 8, 2005

Date set for return of Axum Obelisk

Posted at 11:08 am in Similar cases

After extensive delays the Axum Obelisk is finally going to be returned to Ethiopia by Italy next Monday. Albeit a long time after the 1947 agreement was signed where Italy agreed to return all property looted from Ethiopia by Mussolini.

From:
News24.com

Ethiopia to get obelisk back
04/04/2005 21:30 – (SA)
Addis Ababa – Italy will return to Ethiopia the first piece of the ancient Axum obelisk on April 11, a government spokesman said Monday, ending a dispute over the religious monument taken to Rome 70 years ago.

The top piece of the 1 700-year-old obelisk will leave Rome by cargo plane on April 10 and be flown directly to Axum, Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesperson Solomon Abebe said.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 7, 2005

Advert featuring the acropolis gets ok

Posted at 12:07 pm in Acropolis

For most Greeks the Acropolis is seen as not just a national treasure in the way that we might perceive Stonehenge, but more like a religious monument who’s dignity is to be protected.

From:
Kathimeni

Acropolis advert gets green light

After four weeks of agonizing over the rights and wrongs of letting the Acropolis feature in a corporate advertising campaign, Greece’s top board of antiquities has OK’d the drive, charging a multinational electronics giant 7,043 euros for the service.

In a meeting late on Tuesday, the Culture Ministry’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) gave the green light to the Greek branch of Philips to use images of the ancient citadel in print and TV adverts to be launched globally later this year.

The company provided equipment for the new lighting scheme adopted for the Acropolis ahead of the Olympics and has offered to do the same again, free of charge, for a monument of the ministry’s choice. This swayed several KAS members. Others, such as professor of architecture Haralambos Bouras, argued that Philips “is not a barbarous firm.”

But the director of the Athens Byzantine Museum, Dimitrios Constantios, voted against the campaign, claiming a favorable decision “will associate this major monument with advertising.”

KAS first discussed the controversial matter last month but postponed a ruling until, among others, ministry archaeologists could draw up a list of which monuments should not be used for such purposes. No mention was made of this list on Tuesday.

April 3, 2005

Progress on the construction of the New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 8:20 pm in New Acropolis Museum

Despite earlier delays, construction on the site of the New Acropolis Museum is now progressing once more:

From:
Kathimerini

A bulldozer yesterday…
THANASSIS STAVRAKIS/AP

A bulldozer yesterday demolished buildings expropriated by the state on the central Athens plot destined to host the new Acropolis Museum. The museum — where Greece hopes to eventually exhibit the Elgin Collection of sculptures from the Parthenon, should the British Museum ever agree to return the fifth-century-BC works — is scheduled for completion by the end of next year, according to the latest government estimates. Initially, the building, in the Makriyianni area at the foot of the Acropolis, was supposed to have been ready in time for the August 2004 Olympic Games. However, it is still at the stage of pouring the foundations.