Showing results 37 - 44 of 44 for the tag: James Cuno.

June 21, 2008

Cuno & the credible museum

Posted at 11:51 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

In many ways, once James Cuno’s arguments are deconstructed, one can only conclude, that he has been planted in the museums world by restitution organisations to make their own campaigns appear more credible. Unfortunately though, it appears that he is for real – & more worryingly, is one of the candidates for becoming Director of the Met once de Montebello retires later this year.

Kwame Opoku (by email)

James Cuno: “There is not a credible museum in this country that has an object in it that it knows to have been stolen from someplace else.”

This statement attributed to Cuno must surely rank as one of the most blatant misrepresentations of our times.

Cuno and others have engaged a lot of people with the concept of “universal museum” which they now refer to as “encyclopaedic museum”. See “Encyclopaedic Museum Starter Kit”,
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June 20, 2008

A satirical approach to the Universal Museum concept

Posted at 11:34 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Following Andrew Marr’s interview with James Cuno earlier this week, Dr Kwame Opoku recently alerted me to an amusing satire of the Universal Museum concept, posted on the Artnose website. Cuno has been making his own efforts to re-brand the maligned Universal Museum concept as the Encyclopaedic Museum. Despite the humour of this article though, it does highlight important points – not least that the creation of a Universal Museum is impossible without colossal amounts of funding – a way of keeping it out of reach of all but the wealthiest western nations.

Kwame Opoku (by email)

A Satirical Approach to the “Universal Museum”.
18th June 2008

There has been a lot of publicity these last days for James Cuno’s book, Who owns Antiquity? including several radio discussions on the British radio station, BBC where the author presented his views and was questioned by expert participants. Cuno repeated his well-known views about antiquities belonging to all and his criticism of those he calls “nationalist retentionists”. The tone of the discussions was very polite but it was also clear that most of those who spoke were not fully convinced by the arguments in his book. Some referred very briefly to the demands for the return of the cultural objects taken during the imperial days – Elgin/Parthenon Marbles, Benin Bronzes and the Rosetta Stone. Indeed, a former museum director expressed the view that it was time to return some of these objects. He also remarked about the fact that some museums bought objects without asking too many questions about their provenance. Despite Cuno’s insistence that the speaker mentions specific institutions known for such a practice, the participant remained unspecific. But it was clear to all that the prestigious museums involved in deals with looters are too well-known and did not need to be mentioned in the small circle of discussants.
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June 16, 2008

Cuno interviewed by Andrew Marr

Posted at 10:30 am in Similar cases

I mentioned before that James Cuno was due to appear on BBC Radio 4’s Start The Week programme. The recording of this programme can now be downloaded from the BBC’s website here. The relevant section starts about 23 minutes 30 seconds into the recording & lasts for about 10 minutes.

June 12, 2008

Are all antiquity collectors criminals?

Posted at 3:37 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

To some archaeologists, there are few in the antiquities collection business who shouldn’t be classed as criminals. James Cuno of course disagrees with this point of view.

The Economist

The great heritage war
Jun 12th 2008
From The Economist print edition

“THEY are all criminals, especially the Americans,” an eminent archaeologist declares. The evidence? They collect antiquities. This sort of remark is a typical attack in the long battle over who should or should not possess or trade in ancient objects. The combatants include governments, museums, art dealers and auction houses as well as archaeologists and private collectors.

James Cuno examines the underlying causes of this conflict, reporting on the wounds it is inflicting and proposing a route to a workable truce. He spotlights a single theatre of operations. Though the museums of his subtitle suggest that they are his focus, specialist institutions (showing ceramics, say, or Islamic art) are excluded. Encyclopedic museums—devoted to the exhibition and study of “representative examples of the world’s artistic legacy”—are what he concentrates on.
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June 8, 2008

Kwame Opoku deconstructs Cuno

Posted at 3:23 pm in Similar cases

Many of Dr Kwame Opoku’s articles have previously featured on this site. Here, he analyses some of the arguments put forward in James Cuno’s new book on why retention of cultural property the the institutions of the West is a good idea.

Modern Ghana

Do present day Egyptians eat the same food as Tuthankhamun? Review of James Cuno’s Who Owns Antiquity?
By Dr. Kwame Opoku
Sun, 08 Jun 2008
Feature Article

In order to deny States the right to control excavations on their land and to prevent them from claiming ownership of artefacts found in their countries, James Cuno, Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, in his new book, Who owns antiquity? Museums and the battle over our ancient heritage, goes so far as to deny any continuity between the peoples of present States and those of ancient civilizations. He denies that the present-day Egyptians have any links with ancient Egyptians:

“What is the relationship between, say, modern Egypt and the antiquities that were part of the land’s Pharaonic past? The people of modern-day Cairo do not speak the language of the ancient Egyptians, do not practice their religion, do not make their art, wear their dress, eat their food, or play their music, and do not adhere to the same kind of laws or form of government the ancient Egyptians did.” (1) This astonishing declaration is typical of the controversial pronouncements made by Cuno in his book which can be easily proven to be unfounded or mere speculation and in any case, not very helpful in finding workable solutions to present controversies concerning the retention of illegally exported or stolen cultural objects. Some of his statements are of such a nature that one wonders whether they are worthy of detailed examination. They are probably better left uncommented but since they come from a director of one of the most important museums in the Western world, they cannot be simply ignored. Take the statement that the present Egyptians do not eat the same food as ancient Egyptians. Is this serious? When Zahi Hawass claims the return of the Rosetta Stone or the bust of Nefertiti, should we examine his diet in order to establish his links to ancient Egypt which permit him to claim on behalf of present-day Egypt? Does our consumption of particular food establish our links or affinity with other peoples? Does the consumption of rice by many Africans establish in any way their links to Asians? What about MacDonald’s food which is wide spread in our world, does that make all of us Americans or one people? What about variations in food consumption patterns within a country along north/south lines or class lines? So who cares whether Zahi Hawass eats the same food as Tutankhamen did? For most of us, it is enough to know that they are both Egyptians and the one can legitimately claim the cultural achievements of the other on behalf of the Egyptian peoples of to-day.
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June 6, 2008

Christopher Hitchens versus James Cuno

Posted at 11:49 am in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum, Similar cases

Christopher Hitchens has just released a revised & updated edition of his book on the Parthenon Sculptures: The Elgin Marbles: Should They Be Returned to Greece?
As any who have read this book will know, it takes pretty much the opposite viewpoint to James Cuno’s new book on the ownership of cultural property.
In this review, the two books are compared together. Whilst the reviewer seems to follow Cuno’s viewpoint, comments posted afterwards correct some of the inbalance in this piece.

The New Statesman

Losing our marbles?
Robin Simon
Published 05 June 2008

It is one of the most controversial issues in the art world today – should museums disperse their collections and return antiquities to their original sites? In particular, should the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum be restored to Athens?

With the opening of its glamorous new Acropolis Museum, the Greek campaign for the return of the Elgin Marbles appears to have shot itself in the foot. A few years ago, the remaining pieces of the great frieze of the Parthenon in Athens – those not on display at the British Museum – were taken down from the long-suffering temple for conservation. It is now clear that they will never be put back. They have gone on display in the museum, mounted in a gallery that has the identical dimensions of the Parthenon. Joining them, set in their correct locations, are replicas of the originals in London. So far, so good, one might think. But hang on. The replicas are covered in wire mesh veils to represent, it seems, some kind of mourning. This is not didacticism: this is propaganda.
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June 5, 2008

James Cuno’s controversial new book

Posted at 12:52 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

James Cuno seems convinced (maybe because himself) that the power of museums to good in the world is all important & it should over-rule any minor things like who is the actual owner of artefacts & where they were acquired…

Chicago Reader

Who Owns Antiquity?
In a controversial new book, Art Institute president James Cuno argues that museums should trump nations.
By Deanna Isaacs
June 5, 2008

When I was a kid, the public library in my hometown of Minneapolis had a pair of real Egyptian mummies. They were displayed in glass cases and one was partially unwrapped, his head exposed. He was small (about my ten-year-old size) and shriveled, with gaping sockets where his eyes had been. A card said he’d been a priest who lived more than 2,500 years ago, and explained that during the mummification process his brains had been pulled out through his nose. I was mesmerized. Out of time and place, his eternal rest horribly violated (even by my gaze), he seemed to me to be an emissary from an amazing and previously unimaginable culture.

Those mummies, now on loan to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, came to mind as I was reading James Cuno’s controversial new book, Who Owns Antiquity?, in which he rails against cultural property laws that have made it nearly impossible to legally export not only mummies but almost any relics from the countries in which they’re found. Cuno, president and director of the Art Institute of Chicago, contends that these laws, though regularly rationalized as a means to protect archeological sites, are actually about something else.
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June 1, 2008

James Cuno on Start The Week – 16th June

Posted at 10:54 pm in Similar cases

James Cuno, Director of Chicago’s Art Institute, is a person who’s outlook on archaeology takes the opposite view from that of this website. His new book has just been released & is getting a lot of press coverage – in many cases though, on reading it, it opens people’s minds to the fact that they should be asking more questions rather than accepting his point of view as the only way things should happen.

On the morning of 16th June, he will be one of the guests on Andrew Marr’s Start the Week programe on BBC Radio 4 a 9:00 AM.

The programme’s details are here, but are not updated until nearer the broadcast date.