Showing results 13 - 24 of 29 for the month of February, 2006.

February 20, 2006

An interview with the Metropolitan Museum’s director

Posted at 9:00 pm in Similar cases

The New York Times interviews Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum who have recently agreed to return the Euphronios Krater to Italy. From the way he speaks about the case & about the Italians, he clearly isn’t entirely happy with the outcome of the situation – although this attitude is not helped by some rather inane comments by the interviewer. I’d have thought that he ought to be rather happy about how much worse it could have ended up. If you look at the facts, they had in their collection a number of looted artefacts (clearly they are (now) certain that they were looted otherwise they would not have agreed to return them). In return for the restitution of these artefacts however, they receive on long term loan other items of a similar value – compensation for theft, or at the very least, compensation for not doing their research well enough before purchasing?
De Montebello seems to feel that the Met if being unfairly targeted. If he knows of European collectors are who are buying looted artefacts “en masse” then why doesn’t he report them to the relevant authorities? One would have thought that for someone holding such a senior position in the art world this is what he ought to be doing – if of course these othe collectors even exist?

New York Times

Questions for Philippe de Montebello
Stolen Art?
Published: February 19, 2006

Q: You’re scheduled to be in Rome this week, finalizing the details of the return of a group of looted antiquities that includes the celebrated Euphronios krater, a jumbo-size Greek vase, which has been a centerpiece of the Metropolitan Museum’s holdings for more than 30 years.

The world is changing, and you have to play by the rules. It now appears that the piece came to us in a completely improper way — through machinations, lies, clandestine night digging. As the representative of an honorable institution, I have to say no, this is not right.
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February 13, 2006

Are museums guilty of stealing history?

Posted at 1:55 pm in Similar cases

This article looks at the rise in the number of restitution cases (particularly those targeting museums in the USA) in recent months & what is the root of the problem. It is revealed that although many museums portray restitution claims in a negative way, other museums see how they could be of value in building collaborations & exchanges with other countries.

History News Network (USA)

Are Museums Guilty of Stealing? Historians Can Help Decide.
By S.J. Redman
Mr. Redman is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, Morris where he studied anthropology and history. S.J. plans on starting a graduate program in history this fall and is the author of “What Self Respecting Museum is Without One?’: The Story of Collecting the Old World at the Science Museum of Minnesota 1914-1988” which appeared in Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals. He has worked for (in minor and often rather unglamorous capacities) the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. He currently resides in Minneapolis, MN.

In the last few months the number of stories in the media regarding the repatriation of museum objects has exploded. Repatriation, or the return of sacred or culturally significant museum “specimens” (including human remains) to the nation of origin, has been a significant issue in museum politics for some time. The recent explosion in media attention, however, represents a fantastic opportunity for historians, especially those interested in the history of museums, history of science, anthropology, ethnohistory, or cross-cultural interaction.
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February 12, 2006

Scottish gallery makes deal to keep Nazi loot

Posted at 10:00 pm in Similar cases

In a case, similar to that of the Feldmann paintings, but much less widely reported, a Scottish gallery will pay £10,000 in compensation to be allowed to retain in its collection a painting that was looted by the Nazis.

The Scotsman

Sun 12 Feb 2006
Deal lets gallery keep painting looted by Nazis

ONE of Scotland’s most important art galleries has paid £10,000 in compensation to keep a painting looted by the Nazis.

Le Paté de Jambon, a still life attributed to a follower of Pierre Chardin, was the subject of an inquiry by the Spoliation Advisory Panel of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

It researched claims by the descendents of the owners of the Munich-based AS Drey Gallery that the painting was the subject of a forced sale in Berlin in 1936 to meet an unjust Nazi tax demand.
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Seoul’s requests for Royal Archive return

Posted at 9:46 pm in Similar cases

The case of the Korean Royal Archives held in the Bibliothèque Nationale in France has been going on since 1991. Korea is now planning to step up the pressure on France by raising the negotiations to an inter-governmental level, rather than between individual experts.
This is a restitution case that has hardly been reported on outside Korea & France, but that is perceived as hugely important by the people of Korea who want to recover the history of their country.

Chosunilbo (Korea)

Updated Feb.8,2006 20:46 KST
Seoul Steps Up Quest for Royal Archive’s Return
Korea will take negotiations with France for the return of 297 historic Korean books looted from the Oeguyganggak royal archive to the government level at the end of the month. The French took the books from the Chosun-era library on Ganghwa Island off the west coast when they attacked Korea in 1866 for executing six French Catholic missionaries.
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Another review of Dorothy King’s book on the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 1:53 pm in Elgin Marbles

This review of Dorothy King’s book, The Elgin Marbles, echoes the comments of previous reviewers who are left unconvinced by the arguments that she puts forward about why the sculptures should remain in Britain.

The Guardian

Acropolis now
Dorothy King takes a dim view of arguments for restitution in her history of archaeology’s greatest controversy, The Elgin Marbles. Jane Morris isn’t convinced
Saturday February 11, 2006
The Guardian

The Elgin Marbles: The Story of the Parthenon and Archaeology’s Greatest Controversy
by Dorothy King
352pp, Hutchinson, £18.99

In 1799 Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin and 11th of Kincardine, set foot in Constantinople. Elgin was the new British ambassador to the Ottoman empire, which then included Athens. His job was to try to forge links with the Ottomans, but he had other, private motives. Elgin had his eye on the numerous treasures from antiquity that were firing the popular imagination. Initially, he intended merely to record these, and took a team of artists with him. But he soon realised his contacts meant he could get permission from the Ottomans to remove pieces back to London. In 1801 his staff started to chisel off the first Parthenon sculpture from the ruins on the Acropolis, from where they were ultimately shipped to the British Museum.
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February 10, 2006

Whose art is it anyway?

Posted at 9:58 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Prompted by the imminent return of the Euphronios Krater, an extensive & interesting article looks at many different aspects of cases involving looted artworks around the world, in particular the Elgin Marbles.

The Why Files

The looting of art

Vase invasion

A large clay pot is decorated with figures showing Greek mythology.After almost 34 years, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is set to return the 2,500 year-old Euphronios krater to Italy. This Greek vase, something even the artless would recognize as one spanking fine hunk of crockery, has been high-profile since the Met got it in 1972. As the New York Times reported Feb. 5, 2006, “Thomas P. F. Hoving, then the museum’s director, pronounced the krater, used for mixing wine and water at banquets, to be of such high quality that ‘the histories of art will have to be rewritten'” (see “The Mysterious Trail …” in the bibliography).

In fact, it’s the history of art looting that may need revision. Less than a year after the Met snagged the swag, the New York Times had already begun to eat away at the museum’s story of how the crock was acquired. For starters, the man named as the previous owner said he’d never seen that fine dish.
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Sarospatak library to be returned to Hungary

Posted at 3:38 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

The Sarospatak library, of 134 books ended up in Russia after the Second World War. Russia has recently made a decision to return these antique books to Hungary. This article compares this case to that of the Heidelberg fragment of the Parthenon Marbles which it was recently announced would be returned to Greece.

RIA Novosti (Russia)

Russia returns Sarospatak library to Hungary
09/ 02/ 2006

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Anatoly Korolyov.) — A report about the decision of the State Duma to hand over to Hungary antique books from the Sarospatak Library has coincided in time with the decision of the University of Heidelberg to return to Greece part of the Parthenon frieze by the great Phidias.

True, this is just a small fragment, hardly bigger than a book, and depicts part of a foot.

Also true, the decision of the University of Heidelberg was reported by its Vice Rector, Dr. Angelos Chaniotis, who is of Greek origin. Apparently, he strongly influenced this decision. However, the Greek Ministry of Culture made a statement that the noble decision of the University is a profoundly symbolic gesture, which would be followed at long last by deeds. Greece has been robbed of a huge number of artifacts.
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Montezuma’s headdress may be returned after 500 years

Posted at 1:52 pm in Similar cases

Mexico is trying to secure the return of the headdress of the Aztec emperor Montezuma, currently held in an Austrian museum. They are hoping that with the rise in publicity for high profile restitution cases in recent months, the Austrian government may re-consider their position on the piece.

Bloomberg News

Montezuma’s Headdress May Return Home After 500 Years (Update1)
Feb. 9 (Bloomberg)

Five centuries after Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes laid waste to the Aztec capital, Mexico may be about to recover its most precious artifact: the headdress of Emperor Montezuma II.

“We’ve never been closer than we are right now,” said Xoko Gomora, a 54-year-old Mexican Indian who has spent three decades lobbying officials in Austria, where the headdress now lies in a Viennese museum.
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February 8, 2006

Saxon coin of importance to Britain

Posted at 1:41 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The British Museum has eventually agreed a price for the purchase of a rare Anglo Saxon coin. The coin was originally sold to a private purchaser outside the UK, but the government placed a temporary export ban on it, claiming that it was important to keep such national treasures within the country because they are so closely connected to the country. This article in the New York Times questions whether this forced retention of British artefacts conflicts with our reluctance to return artefacts to other countries, even though those pieces hold a national importance to their original owners.

New York Times

Museum Buying Rare Coin to Keep It in Britain
Published: February 8, 2006

A rare 1,200-year-old Anglo-Saxon gold coin that was sold at auction to an American collector will not be leaving Britain after all.

The British government blocked the export of the coin last year, and the British Museum has raised the funds needed — more than $650,000 — to buy it back. The acquisition is to be announced today.
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February 7, 2006

An end to the Feldmann case?

Posted at 1:31 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The case of the pieces belonging to the Feldmann family in the British Museum’s collection had a lot of press coverage last year. The government used it to highlight why a change in the law was required to allow art looted by the Nazis to be returned to their descendents (it is always limited to these cases – quite why no other cases should be given the same treatment is unclear).
It now appears that the British Museum may be settling the case by avoiding the British Museum Act completely & offering the Feldmann family financial compensation instead (this is allowable under current laws).
The fact that it is necessary to take actions like this only further serves to illustrate the problems inherent with the anti-deaccessioning clauses in the British Museum Act.
The case of the Benevento Missal mentioned at the end of the article was covered in more detail here.

The Art Newspaper

Two British museums pay compensation to keep Nazi loot
The British Museum and Glasgow Art Gallery are righting wartime wrongs
Posted 06 February 2006
By Martin Bailey

LONDON. Two Nazi-era spoliation claims against UK museums are being resolved, with the payment of financial compensation to the descendants of the pre-war owners. The cases involve the Feldmann drawings at the British Museum and a still-life painting at Glasgow Art Gallery. These works of art will now remain in the two collections, on a sound legal basis.
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How safe are artefacts in any museum?

Posted at 1:23 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The British Museum has often stated in the past that they feel that the Elgin Marbles are better looked after in London than they would be in Athens. Last year, the Daily Telegraph exposed records of damage that had occurred to the sculptures in the last half century. In the end, the fact that it is thought that something was historically better protected is of little use once an artefact is accidentally damaged – no matter where it is kept. The museum might obtain compensation from their insurers, but this doesn’t repar the broken piece.

BBC News

Last Updated: Monday, 6 February 2006, 17:22 GMT
Public risk to priceless pieces
By James Clarke
BBC News, England

A man who tripped over his shoelace and smashed two priceless Chinese vases says he has been asked not to return to the museum where it happened.

But the risk of accidental damage is a chance museums and galleries have to take, according to a number of experts.
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February 6, 2006

Yale’s Inca artefacts

Posted at 1:59 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Peru is threatening to sue Yale University for the return of various Inca artefacts. This article looks at this as part of a wider problem facing many universities & museums.

The Sunday Times

The Sunday Times – World
February 05, 2006
Wrath of the Incas descends on Yale
Matthew Campbell

A BATTLE between America’s Yale University and Peru over treasures from Machu Picchu, the famous city of the Incas, has highlighted a worrying issue for museum curators: how many prized treasures in their collections are plundered goods that should be restored to their rightful owners?

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art seemed to set a glowing example last week when it announced it would return to Italy a 2,500-year-old Greek vase looted from a tomb north of Rome in 1971 and sold to the museum a year later.
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