Showing results 13 - 22 of 22 for the month of November, 2005.

November 9, 2005

The Parthenon & its Sculptures

Posted at 1:49 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology

In 2002, a conference on the Parthenon sculptures was held at the University of Missouri. Following that conference a book has been published, containing much of the material from the conference. Bryn Mawr Classical Review has recently published an in depth review of this work.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 2005.11.10
M.B. Cosmopoulos, The Parthenon and Its Sculptures.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pp. 214. ISBN 0-521-83673-5. $75.00.

Reviewed by Fiona A. Greenland, New College, Oxford
Word count: 2648 words

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]

The present book is a collection of papers that developed from the international conference “The Parthenon and its Sculptures in the Twenty-First Century,” held at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in April 2002 and organized by the book’s editor, Michael Cosmopoulos. The aim of the conference was, in the words of Cosmopoulos, “to create an opportunity for Parthenon specialists to meet and assess the current state and future direction of Parthenon studies” (“Introduction,” 1). One of the most pressing issues addressed by Cosmopoulos and the book’s contributors is the need for a new methodological framework in which to study the Parthenon marbles. In light of archaeological discoveries and rapid developments in the physical sciences, some age-old assumptions and theories about the decorative marbles on the Temple of Athena Parthenos need redressing. This book takes some promising steps towards achieving that goal.
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November 7, 2005

The Getty’s impact on other restitution cases

Posted at 10:58 pm in Similar cases

Christian Science Monitor, prompted by the problems facing the Getty, looks back at the nature of restitution cases affecting museums. Over time public perception on what is right & wrong has changed, but also the laws in place to protect artefacts have evolved & become more international in their outlook.
Interestingly, the article suggests that this court case brought by the Italians will represent a defining moment for many restitution cases, marking a wider change of attitudes.

Christian Science Monitor

Arts & Entertainment > Art
from the November 07, 2005 edition
Ancient art, modern crime

A respected art curator goes on trial next week for allegedly buying stolen antiquities. Hers is not the only major museum under scrutiny.
By Gloria Goodale | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

LOS ANGELES – Museum directors hope the artwork they display will inspire visitors – but not necessarily to ask, “Did they steal that?” Yet that is precisely the question being asked at museums from New York’s Metropolitan to California’s Getty and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). The former antiquities curator of the world’s richest museum, the Getty, goes on trial next week in Italy on charges that she helped the museum acquire stolen art.

Armed with new information from the memoirs of a controversial art dealer, Italian authorities want at least 42 items in the Getty collection returned. New York’s Met may have to return a “supergem” of its collection, a 6th century BC painted vase. They want at least 22 items back from Boston’s MFA, including a prized 2,500-year-old Greek vase.
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November 5, 2005

British Museum returns mask to Canada

Posted at 10:34 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

In an unusually positive move, the British Museum is returning a ceremonial mask to Canada which was taken in 1921. Whilst at the museum the mask was in storage & was never available for viewing.

This story does however highlight once more the ridiculousness of the British Museum Act, whereby the museum is unable to relinquish ownership of the mask, but has to instead give it back on a long term loan.

Times Colonist (Victoria, Canada)

Treasures recovered after decades-long struggle
Times Colonist
Saturday, November 05, 2005

ALERT BAY – On Andrea Sanborn’s first attempt to persuade the British Museum to let go of her people’s ceremonial mask, she showed up with an empty Adidas bag.

“What’s that for?” asked the museum boffins. “I’ve come for the mask,” she said, straight-faced.

Not only did she go home empty-handed on that trip, but they wouldn’t even let her see the artifact, which was buried in deep storage, down in the basement with the spare mummies and winter tires.
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Can new laws prevent the looting of Egypt’s antiquities

Posted at 9:18 pm in Similar cases

As one of the oldest civilisations, Egypt also has one of the longest histories of looting. By the time of the Romans, the plundering of Egyptian tombs was already a long established business.
Since becoming secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass has brought in much stronger laws to try & prevent any further looting of artefacts from Egypt.

Al-Ahram (Cairo)

27 October – 2 November 2005
Issue No. 766
New law on the way
Can the new antiquities law put an end to the antiquities trafficking business? Nevine El-Aref looks at the issues

Grave robbing has thrived in Egypt from the days of the ancients. The tombs of royals and the elite were most at risk, since they contained great riches in the form of valuable funerary objects including gold jewellery and domestic objects inlaid with precious stones, alabaster and faience. Even the graves of the poor, however, were prey to robbery for the sake of the meagre offerings and adornments entombed with the deceased.

Despite the curse-invoking texts engraved on tomb walls, certain architectural steps taken to prevent theft, severe punishments and warnings that robbers would be judged by the gods in the afterlife, grave robbers continued to plunder tombs.
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Danish & Japanese museums implicated in Getty case

Posted at 6:59 pm in Similar cases

As well as The Met, The MFA, The Getty, the Princeton & the Toledo (Ohio) museums, the institutions potentially implicated in the Italian’s case against the Getty has broadened again.
Records show suggesting that Sothebys was involved in many of these dealings now point to Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen & two Japanese museums as having acquired artefacts from one of the dealers being investigated in the case.
Neither the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek or the two Japanese Museums have yet been charged by the Italian authorities.

Bloomberg News

Smuggling Ring Used Sotheby’s 110 Times, Italian Probes Show
Nov. 4 (Bloomberg)

A smuggling ring put at least 110 Italian antiquities up for sale at Sotheby’s Holdings Inc. and supplied 96 looted objects to 10 museums around the world, according to charges contained in Italian indictments and a judge’s sentence of a convicted smuggler.

The global scale of the alleged ring’s trade — worth tens of millions of dollars and involving museums from Tokyo to Toledo, Ohio — is outlined in a series of cases that Italian prosecutors are bringing, in part to keep looted archaeological artifacts from auction houses and museums, the papers obtained by Bloomberg News show.
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British government warns museums not to acquire looted artefacts

Posted at 6:44 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

After consultations in 2003, the British Government has just published their official guidelines for museums on how to avoid accidentally purchasing looted artefacts.

One of the most relevant points in the document however is its exclusions. Any item that was acquired prior to 1970, or that’s ownership can be traced back further than 1970 is effectively exempted from these guidelines (a point that must make many museums very happy.) It appears that the British Museum were one of the key institutions involved in drawing up this document, so this previous exclusion is hardly surprising.

The full advisory document (In PDF format) can be downloaded here.

Department of Culture Media & Sport

25 October 2005
‘Don’t Buy Looted Goods By Accident’ David Lammy Tells Heritage Bodies

Museums, libraries and archives must work to ensure that they do not accidentally acquire material that has been stolen or looted, Culture Minister David Lammy said today.

New Guidelines published today by the DCMS, urge cultural institutions to:

  • ask for evidence, or provenance, of the object’s history before acquiring it;
  • refuse to accept anything when there are doubts about its origins; and
  • seek expert advice when they are unsure of how to progress.

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Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts may have received stolen artefacts

Posted at 6:03 pm in Similar cases

Following accusations against the Met last week, it appears that Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is the next institution to be confronted with evidence that their collection contains looted artefacts.
The source of these accusations appears to be the same raids in Switzerland that sparked off the allegations against the Met.
The MFA denies the allegations.

The Boston Globe

Case in Italy suggests MFA received stolen art
Museum says it received no proof

By Geoff Edgers and Sofia Celeste, Globe Staff
November 4, 2005

Italian prosecutors preparing for this month’s high-profile antiquities smuggling trial in Rome have seized photographs of three ancient objects — a vase, a jar, and a statue — that could make the strongest case yet that Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts acquired stolen art in the last 25 years.

The evidence, which has surfaced in connection with Italy’s decades-long attempt to force American museums to return looted art, has led the investigators to compile an additional list of 29 objects in the MFA’s collection that they suspect were taken from ancient sites largely throughout Italy.
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Ancient book is re-assembled

Posted at 1:23 pm in Similar cases

Between 1498-1499, Jean Bourdichon painted the prayer book known as The Hours of Louis XII for the King of France. By the seventeenth century though, the manuscript had become dismembered with its pages held by various institutions around the world. At present, the whereabouts of more than half of the pages is unknown.
A new exhibition aims to (temporarily) reunite all but one of the sixteen known surviving pages, so that they can bee seen & studied together. The exhibition is first going on display at the Getty Center in Los Angeles & will then go to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

The Independent

Book of hours is put back together after 300 years
By Louise Jury, Arts Correspondent
Published: 05 November 2005

It was one of the greatest French manuscripts of the 15th century, a prayer book of exquisite beauty created in honour of the coronation of King Louis XII.

But within a century of its production, the whereabouts of The Hours of Louis XII were unknown. By 1700 its 36 pages were scattered to the wind, only gradually reappearing in collections in Britain and France.
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Getty to review acquisition ethics

Posted at 1:11 pm in Similar cases

The Getty has recently announced that they will form a special board to look into the acquisition practices of the institute. While this is a move that should be welcomed, it will be seen by many as too little action, taken far too late – an attempt to avoid future legal proceedings based on the institute’s actions in the past.

Los Angeles Times

October 30, 2005
New Getty Panel to Examine Operations
The committee will look at the acquisition of antiquities and how the beleaguered trust and chief Barry Munitz spent tax-exempt funds.
By Jason Felch and Robin Fields, Times Staff Writers

After months of mounting troubles, the J. Paul Getty Trust announced Saturday that its board of trustees had formed a special committee to investigate its acquisition of antiquities and its use of tax-exempt funds.

The committee, composed of five board members, will review issues related to an Italian criminal inquiry into allegedly looted antiquities and an investigation by the state attorney general into spending by the trust and its chief executive, Barry Munitz.
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Restitution claims & the media

Posted at 1:01 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Adrian Ellis, a director of AEA consulting, a firm that advises cultural organisations such as museums on policy decisions, has written in the Art Newspaper about restitution claims & museums.
He suggests that the amount of restitution claims coming to light at the moment are undermining the public’s trust in museums. Part of the problem is the way in which institutions have generally tended to try & judge these claims on a purely legal (rather than a moral) basis.

The Art Newspaper

Vol. XIV, No. 163
November 2005
Restitution claims and the media By Adrian Ellis

Museum inaction is undermining public trust

Restitution claims make great newspaper copy, as can be seen in the recent media frenzy over the Getty’s restitution of antiquities to Italy (see p.4). They are innately adversarial as they bring colourful criminal acts to light, or bring to the surface deep – rooted clashes of cultures – sometimes both. They also cast museums in a harsher light than does routine press coverage, most of which is “soft” in character and hooked onto an event under the control of the museum press team: donations, openings, expansion plans, acquisitions and so forth. Restitution stories by contrast originate almost invariably with the claimant, not the museum. When press coverage is more than purely factual, it tends to cast the claimant as the underdog and the museum as either evasive or dismissive and, in either case, grudging and reactive.
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