February 21, 2009
The British Museum is fond of terms such as Cultural Diplomacy as a way of describing some of their current initiatives, but as I have commented before, this only ever seems to occur when it is on their terms & they are in a position to call the shots.
In the case of the Shah ‘Abbas exhibition, Cultural Diplomacy seems to take the form of leveraging your looting – lending back disputed artefacts in exchange for borrowing further artefacts.
The Art of Museum Diplomacy
By WILLIAM LEE ADAMS Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009
When western diplomats seek concessions from Iran, they typically dish out tough rhetoric and threaten sanctions. Neil MacGregor, the cherub-faced director of the British Museum, uses a more refined arsenal: cultural relics and priceless artifacts. In January, MacGregor traveled to Tehran to finalize the loan of treasures from eight of Iran’s best museums. In exchange, he promised to loan the National Museum of Iran the Cyrus Cylinder, a 2,500-year-old clay cylinder inscribed with decrees from the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great. Following a request by the Iranian Vice President’s office, he also vowed to raise international awareness of damage done to archaeological sites in Gaza during Israel’s recent military operation. The lofty maneuvering paid off: three weeks later, dozens of crates containing Persian rugs and 17th century mosque ornaments were winging their way to London.
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