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Asia Society discusses benefits of a “Wikiloot” database

The Asia Society in New York has discussed the benefits of a Wikiloot [1] type database at their most recent meeting.

The Art Newspaper [2]

Asia Society debate: the dos and don’ts of collecting antiquities
Establishing a “Wikiloot” website to track illicitly traded antiquities is among the issues discussed
By Eric Magnuson. Web only
Published online: 22 March 2012

The Asia Society in New York held a panel on collecting ancient art in the 21st century on 18 March along with the American Committee for Cultural Policy.

The first half of the panel primarily covered legal aspects concerning collecting art from China and India. The international art dealer James Lally went into depth about some of the misconceptions that the collecting community has about the memorandum of understanding between China and the US, and Naman Ahuja, a professor of Indian art and architecture from Delhi, spoke adamantly about how he believed that western collectors should help museums from source countries by lending their expertise.

The second half largely dealt with issues facing curatorial work in the US. Among other topics, Arthur Houghton, a former curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum, diplomat and member of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee to the President, discussed a proposed WikiLoot web resource, which aims to identify looted antiquities with a crowd-sourced approach.

The other panellists were: Kate Fitz Gibbon, an attorney and former member of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee to the President; Kurt A. Gitter, the co-founder of Gitter-Yelen Art Study Center, New Orleans; James McAndrew, a forensic specialist at Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman, Klestadt LLP and a former Homeland Security, US Customs expert; Julian Raby, the director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington DC; and Marc Wilson, a sinologist and the former director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City. The event was moderated by Melissa Chiu, the director of the Asia Society, and Vishakha Desal, the society’s president. The full discussion can be viewed on Asia Society’s website.

This article was updated on 26 March to correct Arthur Houghton’s position. He no longer works at the Getty Museum.