Showing results 37 - 48 of 90 for the tag: Kwame Opoku.

August 11, 2009

What has been learned from the return of the Euphronios Krater?

Posted at 12:51 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

High profile restitution cases have created a shift in museum culture in recent years, but some of the people involved such as Philippe de Montebello, still claim to have no comprehension of why such actions took place.

From:
Modern Ghana

DO DIRECTORS OF “UNIVERSAL MUSEUMS” EVER LEARN FROM EXPERIENCE?
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | 1 day ago

It appears legitimate to question whether the directors of “universal museums” ever learn from experience. When we read the books and articles of James Cuno, Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, Neal MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, and Philippe de Montebello, former Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, we cannot escape the conclusion that, as far as restitution is concerned, these directors have not learnt anything from recent history and events. (1) This impression has been confirmed by statements made by Philippe de Montebello at Rockland, Maine, United States. (2)

Montebello, who had spoken about other issues, could not avoid discussing the question of restitution which has been brought again to the forefront by the opening of the New Acropolis Museum and the consequent pressure on the British Museum to return the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles that Lord Elgin caused to be removed from Athens in 1801 to 1812 under dubious circumstances. (3) The comments of the former Director of the Met on restitution were reported as follows:
Read the rest of this entry »

August 4, 2009

Does anyone really believe that the Greek Government copied Elgin’s actions?

Posted at 1:03 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

In a recent talk, the British Museum’s director suggested that: The Greek government has simply continued Elgin’s practice and removed the rest [of the Parthenon Marbles] now from the building. Few could sensibly argue that this was the case though. Whatever Elgin’s eventual explanations may have been, it was clear initially that he merely wanted the sculptures for his own house & was in no sense acting as a preservationist.

From:
Modern Ghana

THE AMAZING DIRECTOR OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM: GRATUITOUS INSULTS AS CURRENCY OF CULTURAL DIPLOMACY?
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.

It seems there is nobody in the whole of Great Britain who can persuade the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, to refrain from making atrocious statements about cultural matters, especially about cultural objects of others which have been looted or removed under dubious circumstance and brought to the British Museum. Apart from his equally offensive theory that the cultures of others can only be properly understood in the British Museum which has many other looted objects, he recently argued that the Benin bronzes were made from materials produced in Europe and that this somehow gives the British Museum legitimacy to hold the looted bronzes. The following insulting statement, made recently, is in line with his usual disrespect for others “The Greek government has simply continued Elgin’s practice and removed the rest [of the Parthenon Marbles] now from the building, because you can’t see them on the building. When those sculptures came to London, for the first time they were at a height where people could see them and they were in a place where tens, hundreds of thousands of people could see these were great objects.” (1)
Read the rest of this entry »

July 21, 2009

Neil MacGregor’s claims that the Elgin Marbles will not return

Posted at 12:59 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

For some reason, it appears that Neil MacGregor is now guaranteed positive coverage whenever he writes a piece for, or is interview by The Times. It seems that whatever claims he makes regarding his reasons for retention of the Parthenon Sculptures are accepted with little question or analysis.

The problem in many cases is that whilst what the British Museum is saying may be construed as a valid approach to take, it is represented as being the only valid approach, without considering the range of other possibilities or the views & sensibilities of others.

The Elgin Marbles or the Rosetta Stone may well have changed history – but there is no clear evidence that this was only the case because of the fact that they were in the British Museum.

Following the initial article are two more articles also on the British Museum, followed by a response by Kwame Opoku.

From:
The Times

July 18, 2009
Neil MacGregor lifts British Museum’s ambition to new heights
Tristram Hunt: Commentary

This is why the Elgin Marbles are not going back. With characteristic panache, Neil MacGregor is once again making the case for the British Museum as a museum of all mankind. In 100 episodes based around 100 objects from the Bloomsbury collection, Mr MacGregor aims to cement the British Museum’s Enlightenment credentials. And he’s doing so with some ambitious inter-disciplinary thinking.

To tell a story of the world in 15 minutes through a series of objects requires a sure grasp of cultural and social anthropology. Mr MacGregor, whose most celebrated exhibition during his tenure at the National Gallery was the Seeing Salvation display of Renaissance iconography, has long understood the allure of artefacts. Indeed, he is sometimes accused of seeking to blur — in an increasingly agnostic age — the boundaries between the secular and the religious by investing the British Museum’s objects with an almost spiritual significance. But in going beyond the obviously material, in explaining the broader cultural and social currency of the collection, he will give the story of these objects a relevance far in excess of their historic context.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 6, 2009

Voluntary restitution of artefacts

Posted at 10:14 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Whilst some museums refuse to return (or even allow access to) artefacts despite extensive pressure put on them to do so, one institution has returned an artefact without even being asked. The reason for this action was that the museum felt that it was the right thing to do.

From:
Modern Ghana

5th July 2009
NOT ALL HAVE ABANDONED MORALITY IN THE RESTITUTION OF CULTURAL ARTEFACTS BY WESTERN MUSEUMS
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.

Sometimes, certain acts occur which make us believe that there is still chance for humankind and that not all persons have allowed themselves to be swept by greed and thirst for power over others.

The report about the return by Seattle Art Museum (SAM) to Australian Aborigines of a ceremonial object, without being requested by the owners, may appear to many as a small matter in itself. However, when one takes into account the discussions on restitution of cultural objects to their rightful owners, this act acquires added significance.*
Read the rest of this entry »

June 22, 2009

Why are major African art exhibitions only shown in the Western world?

Posted at 1:18 pm in Similar cases

Museums often claim that they are popularising culture – that they are displaying artefacts from the past to people who would never otherwise have seen them. In many cases though, this creates a new split – that the original creator / owners are no longer to see their own culture. Surely understanding ones own culture should be given as much (if not more) importance as understanding that of others? Is it possible to understand other cultures without understanding your own first?

From:
Afrikanet

Datum: 23.06.09 09:32
Von: Dr. Kwame Opoku
Are major africa Art exhibitions only for the western world? Ife art exhibition begins in Spain but will not be shown in Nigeria or any other african country

A major exhibition on Ife art, Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria, opened on June 16, 2009 at the Fundación Marcelino Botin, Santander, Spain and will move from there to the Museum for Africa Art, New York, United States and later to the British Museum, London, United Kingdom. The exhibition however will not be shown in Nigeria or in any other African country. (1)

The exhibition consists of some 120 excellent bronze, terra-cotta and stone sculptures from 12th – 15th century from Ife (or more correctly, Ilé-Ife), the spiritual capital of the Yoruba in South-western Nigeria and the place where, according to Yoruba mythology, creation took place; the gods, Oduduwa and Obatala descended from heaven to create the earth as directed by the Supreme Deity, Oludumare. The objects in the exhibition have been loaned by the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) which is working in collaboration with the Fundación Marcelino Botin, the Museum for African Art and the British Museum.
Read the rest of this entry »

May 12, 2009

The problems of comparing looted artefact disputes with child custody cases

Posted at 12:48 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Kwame Opoku responds to some of the disingenuous analogies that try to draw parallels to other issues.

From:
Afrikanet

Datum: 12.05.09 09:29
Von: Dr. Kwame Opoku
Comparing disputes about looted artefacts with child custody cases

I find the proposal to apply principles developed in child custody cases to disputes regarding the ownership of looted artefacts, very interesting but also problematic and, in the end, not feasible. (1)

To compare cultural artefacts with children under any circumstances is itself very disputable. Artworks cannot be compared to children and hence from the very nature of the subjects concerned, the comparison falters. A good judge would try to ascertain the wishes of a child at the centre of marital dispute but we surely cannot ask an art object where it would like to be, Berlin or Benin?
Read the rest of this entry »

April 22, 2009

Whose Culture – continued

Posted at 1:05 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Kwame Opoku concludes his piece on James Cuno’s new book on cultural property.

From:
Afrikanet

Comments on James Cuno´s “Whose culture” – Part 2 and End
Datum: 22.04.09 14:00
Kategorie: Kultur-Kunst

Von: Dr. Kwame Opoku

IV. UNFINISHED WORK

Cuno ends his introduction with a statement which many of us could easily subscribe to in so far as it appears to be a call for dialogue: “This book will not be the final word in the debate over antiquities. But we hope it will add a new angle to the frame within which the discussion henceforth takes place. Nothing is more important to the fate of the preservation and greater understanding of our world’s common ancient past and antique legacy than we resolve the differences that divide the various parties in the dispute. Warfare and sectarian violence, which is destroying evidence of the past faster and more surely than the destruction of archaeological sites by looters, is beyond our control. Differences among museum professionals, university- and museum-based scholars, archaeologists, their sympathizers, national politicians, and international agencies should not be.” (63)
Read the rest of this entry »

Cuno´s ‘Whose Culture’

Posted at 1:04 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Kwame Opoku looks at James Cuno’s latest efforts to persuade the world that it is right that disputed cultural artefacts should be retained by the big museums of the western world.

From:
Afrikanet

Comments on James Cuno´s “Whose Culture” – Part 1
Datum: 22.04.09 14:36
Kategorie: Kultur-Kunst
Von: Dr. Kwame Opoku
WHOSE “UNIVERSAL MUSEUM”? COMMENTS ON JAMES CUNO’S WHOSE CULTURE?

“The restitution of those cultural objects which our museums and collections, directly or indirectly, possess thanks to the colonial system and are now being demanded, must also not be postponed with cheap arguments and tricks.”

Gert v. Paczensky and Herbert Ganslmayr, Nofretete will nach Hause. (1984)

I. CUNO SETS THE TONE

“Whose Culture? The modern nations within whose borders antiquities — the ancient artifacts of peoples long disappeared — happen to have been found? Or the world’s peoples, heirs to antiquity as the foundation of culture that has never known political borders but has always been fluid, mongrel, made from contact with new, strange, and wonderful things?
Read the rest of this entry »

March 17, 2009

Should museums take priority over any other concerns?

Posted at 2:29 pm in Similar cases

James Cuno has repeatedly made statements about the importance of museums & why they must continue to hold large collections of artefacts. At the same time, any other arguments are rubbished as Cultural Nationalism or in some way of lesser importance. Are museums really so important though that the maintaining of their collections (many of which are largely in storage) should over-ride all other concerns? Cuno’s revisionist view of history seems to serve only the museums, whilst neglecting the original owners of the artefacts as irrelevant.

From:
Modern Ghana

REFUSAL OF INTELLECTUAL DIALOGUE: COMMENTS ON AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMES CUNO
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The latest statements by the Director of the Art Institute of Chicago in an interview entitled “Treaty on antiquities hinders access for museums” cannot be simply ignored or dismissed (1). After all, James Cuno heads one of the leading museums in the West and is from an important city with a long established intellectual tradition, fine Law Schools and excellent faculties in the social sciences. His views should concern all of us even though his own institution, the Art Institute of Chicago has distanced itself from the views expressed in his book, Who Owns Antiquity? (2)

We have always assumed that the Western intellectual tradition is based on dialogue, between scholars and writers expressing different views and not based on a practice of repetition of mantras from a revered authority whose statements
Read the rest of this entry »

March 13, 2009

Should the culture be taken out of cultural property?

Posted at 5:29 pm in Similar cases

Kwame Opoku responds to this piece on Antiquities Watch.

From:
Afrikanet

Datum: 11.03.09 16:03
Kategorie: Kultur-Kunst
Von: Dr. Kwame Opoku
Mine is mine but yours is ours Comments on a suggestion to take culture out of cultural property

I enjoyed reading the article entitled “Yours, Mine, Ours: Taking the Culture out of Cultural Property” in Antiquities Watch (1) and I have sympathy for some of the views expressed there. It is an interesting article and offers food for thought. However, when I started to reflect on a few of the ideas expressed therein, many difficulties appeared.

The author refers to the increased interest in cultural property matters and the fact that “cultural property is drawing on an increasing range of cultures, nations, and sentiments involving both.” He poses the question whether this is “hurting the causes of restitution and cultural property protection? Are we, by politicizing art and antiquities, jeopardizing their protection, if not original meaning?”
Read the rest of this entry »

February 27, 2009

China’s claims on the Yves Saint Lauren bronze sculptures

Posted at 3:42 pm in Similar cases

China has drawn significant attention to the artefacts being auctioned by Christies that is is alleging were looted. Historically though, there was criticism at the time of the actions surrounding the acquisition of these artefacts.

From:
Modern Ghana

IS IT NOT TIME TO FULFIL VICTOR HUGO’S WISH? COMMENTS ON CHINESE CLAIM TO LOOTED CHINESE ARTEFACTS ON SALE AT CHRISTIE’S (1)
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Thu, 26 Feb 2009

In looking up the background surrounding the proposed auction by Christie’s, I came across some materials which I found very interesting and would like to share with readers. One of them was the statement attributed to Charles Gordon, British soldier, the other by the French writer, Victor Hugo. There is also the offer to return the objects in return for recognition of human rights by China.

The nature and extent of the destruction of the Old Summer Palace, the Gardens of Perfect Brightness, in Peking (now Beijing) in 1860 by Anglo-French troops and the looting even shocked soldiers who took part in the adventure. This act of aggression is regarded even to this day by the Chinese as a symbol of national shame and a warning of the dangers of foreign domination.
Read the rest of this entry »

February 22, 2009

The British Museum as a British Institution

Posted at 12:29 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Following Neil MacGregor’s lecture on the 250th anniversary of the founding of the British Museum, Kwame Opoku responds to the assertions that it is a museum for All Humanity.

From:
Afrikanet

Datum: 22.02.09 22:44
Kategorie: Kultur-Kunst
omments on a lecture by Neil Macgregor, British Museum Director
WHEN WILL EVERYBODY FINALLY ACCEPT THAT THE BRITISH MUSEUM IS A BRITISH INSTITUTION? COMMENTS ON A LECTURE BY NEIL MACGREGOR.

When I listened to the recent lecture by Neil MacGregor, Director, British Museum on the 250th anniversary of the museum, I was, at least at the beginning, very relieved. (1) I thought, finally we have the director of the museum, an avid apostle of the “universal museum”, who was recently made a saint by the British press (2), admitting openly in the museum, (or is it now a temple?) that his institution is British and actually the first important institution to have in its title, the word “British”. This came in a time British workers were also asserting their nationalism. The history of the British Museum as traced by the director clearly indicated that the museum was established by a British Parliamentary Act for the British people. I heard in the lecture phrases such as

“centrally and quintessentially British”, “first public institution to be called British”, “oldest British organization” and all this was said to be “true today”.
Read the rest of this entry »