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The Art News blog on Antiquities, Archaeology, Art Collecting, Art Education, Events, Exhibitions, Museums, and More…

UN Resolution 2347 Sets Stage for More Anti-Trade Legislation

Posted by on Mar 26, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on UN Resolution 2347 Sets Stage for More Anti-Trade Legislation

UN Resolution 2347 Sets Stage for More Anti-Trade Legislation

March 26, 2017.  The UN Security Council has unanimously endorsed a resolution 2347, decrying the destruction of cultural heritage and calling for its protection. Resolution 2347 is the first resolution adopted by the Security Council to focus on cultural heritage. The resolution, “Deplores and condemns the unlawful destruction of cultural heritage … as well as the looting and smuggling of cultural property from archaeological sites, museums, libraries, archives, and other sites, in the context of armed conflicts, notably by terrorist groups.” The resolution did not seek additional funding or international expertise for site protection, conservation, or restoration in source countries torn by war, such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. This, despite the fact that the horrific damage to sites in…

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“Riverbank” Gift Builds Bridges of World Heritage at Met

Posted by on Mar 21, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on “Riverbank” Gift Builds Bridges of World Heritage at Met

“Riverbank” Gift Builds Bridges of World Heritage at Met

March 21, 2017.  When art philanthropist Oscar L. Tang donated Riverbank, a Chinese landscape masterpiece of the 10th century, to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in early March, he not only enhanced the museum’s prestigious collection of Chinese paintings and art, he also made a statement – the cultural heritage of individual nations is also world heritage. “For a long time, my intention has been to donate Riverbank to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I am making this gift now as an affirmation of my belief that The Met is an ideal platform on which to showcase the richness of the art and history of my family’s heritage, and to care for what in China would be considered a ‘national…

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Guatemala Renewal Pending: The Critical AAMD 2015 Interim Report

Posted by on Mar 19, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Guatemala Renewal Pending: The Critical AAMD 2015 Interim Report

Guatemala Renewal Pending: The Critical AAMD 2015 Interim Report

March 19, 2017.  A meeting on renewing the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding with Guatemala is scheduled for March 21, 2017. It might be useful to look at what the Association of Art Museum Directors had to say in 2015 about the status of the now-26 year old US-Guatemala Memorandum of Understanding. The State Department failed to publicly announce the meeting to review the MOU until just 5 days prior to the meeting, and it is unlikely that many interested parties will have time to comment fully. Before making another agreement with Guatemala, the US government should consider whether Guatemala kept the promises it made in the last, 2013 Memorandum of Understanding, or whether it ignored them. In the Statement of the AAMD pertaining to the…

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State Dept. Fails to Give Notice re: Guatemala, Belize, & Mali

Posted by on Mar 18, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on State Dept. Fails to Give Notice re: Guatemala, Belize, & Mali

State Dept. Fails to Give Notice re: Guatemala, Belize, & Mali

March 18, 2017.  Sweeping restrictions on the importation of virtually all art and artifacts from Guatemala, Belize, and Mali will likely be renewed for the next five years – this time without adequate public notification, much less public discussion. The Department of State announced the March 21, 2017 meeting date through the Federal Register on March 15, 2017, with a cut off for public comment of March 20. Ordinarily there is a month or more notice for a renewal of a single country’s agreement in order to give the public, the Association of Art Museum Directors, and other interested parties the opportunity to comment. Informed comment is essential, because the Cultural Property Implementation Act is used in two distinct ways: it…

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Danish Book Debunks Egyptian Stolen Art Claims

Posted by on Mar 17, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Danish Book Debunks Egyptian Stolen Art Claims

Danish Book Debunks Egyptian Stolen Art Claims

March 17, 2017.  Adding to the recent criticism of Egypt’s repatriation policies by former Cultural Minister Mahmoud al-Damaty, a new scholarly work also questions the Egyptian government’s claims that Egyptian art in the West is “stolen.” The Antiquities Trade in Egypt 1880-1930, The H. O. Lange Papers, authored by Fredrik Hagen and Kim, describes the legal trade in Egyptian art up to 1930 in compelling detail. The publisher, the Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, describes the book as covering “the practicalities of the trade … its seasons, the networks of supply, the various methods available for acquiring antiquities, and the subsequent routes of transmission of objects, as well as the different types of dealers operating in Egypt. The geographical…

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Refusal to Sell Back Pontormo Challenges British Export System

Posted by on Mar 15, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Refusal to Sell Back Pontormo Challenges British Export System

Refusal to Sell Back Pontormo Challenges British Export System

March 15, 2017.  An article in the March edition of The Art Newspaper highlights the pitfalls of the current UK export system in which important artworks are retained in Britain for public museum exhibition and access. A US buyer’s purchase of a major artwork by the Italian artist Pantormo, a portrait of the young aristocrat Carlo Neroni in 1530, has caused a furor in Britain. The painting is exceptionally rare: most of the fifteen known works by Pontormo are in Italy. The painting was only recently rediscovered in the hands of a private collector, after having disappeared from public knowledge for 200 years. An exporter is required to obtain a permit in order to export artworks and historic objects meeting different criteria based…

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New Estimates Change Art Market Value: 1/3 Difference

Posted by on Mar 8, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on New Estimates Change Art Market Value: 1/3 Difference

New Estimates Change Art Market Value: 1/3 Difference

March 8, 2017.  Although art market experts continue to agree that the market for ancient and ethnographic art is less than 1% of the global total market by value – changes are afoot in how the other 99% – the big numbers – are calculated for contemporary, post-War, and modern art. Last year’s TEFAF Art Market Report 2017, the best-known annual art market analysis, showed a total global market for art in 2015 valued at $63.8 billion. The latest TEFAF report, produced by economist Dr. Rachel Pownall, reduces the gross number to $45 billion, but states that this is not a 1/3 drop in the market, but a correction and recalibration of past numbers and methods of analysis that still shows…

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Former Antiquities Minister Says Repatriation Policy Hurting Egypt

Posted by on Mar 5, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Former Antiquities Minister Says Repatriation Policy Hurting Egypt

Former Antiquities Minister Says Repatriation Policy Hurting Egypt

March 1, 2017. Mamdouh al-Damaty, former Egyptian Antiquities Minister (2012-2014) and Director General of the Egyptian Museum at Cairo (2001-2004), says that the Egyptian government’s policy demanding return of artifacts in foreign museums is counterproductive, harming Egyptian public interest, discouraging positive international relations and tourism, and thereby denying needed resources to multiple restoration projects in Egypt. His remarks, at a lecture at in Alexandria’s Al-Asema Club in February 2017, set forth an alternative cultural property policy for the nation. For the last decade, some Egyptian officials, most notably off and on Antiquities chief Zahi Hawass, have demanded return of both the most significant Egyptian artifacts in the world, such as the Rosetta Stone (on show at the British Museum since 1802),…

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Golden, Not Triumphal Arches on Appian Way

Posted by on Feb 28, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Golden, Not Triumphal Arches on Appian Way

Golden, Not Triumphal Arches on Appian Way

February 28, 2017.  A McDonald’s in Marino, Italy, 15 miles southeast of Rome, has a unique draw: hamburger buyers can look through its glass floor to a 1st-2nd century BCE Roman road, a branch of the Appian Way. The very well-preserved stone road was discovered during excavations to build a Frattochie McDonald’s franchise restaurant. Rather than abandon the project, McDonald’s Italia decided to spend €300,000 for a full three-year archaeological and restoration program. Once completed, the franchise built a glass floor than enables diners in the restaurant to see through to a 150-foot length of the road, including the location where the skeletons of three men buried in the road’s gutter were found. Resin casts of their bones are on…

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Art Community Rallies in San Francisco to Preserve Access to Art

Posted by on Feb 27, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Art Community Rallies in San Francisco to Preserve Access to Art

Art Community Rallies in San Francisco to Preserve Access to Art

February 27, 2017.  The Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association (ATADA) presented four panels at recent major US tribal art fairs, the Feb. 9-12 San Francisco Tribal & Textile Arts Show and the Feb 17-19 American Indian Art Show in nearby Marin County. Panelists Mark Blackburn, Kate Fitz Gibbon and Bob Gallegos spoke at each venue, discussing Pending and Past Legislation and its Effects on The Tribal Art World. Kim Martindale, a director of both fairs, and ATADA President John Molloy acted as moderators. The panels began with the 2016 incidents that precipitated a crisis in the collecting world, including highly publicized law enforcement actions that have colored public perceptions of the art collecting and museum communities. Last March, federal and…

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Impossible Standards? UK Bill Makes Trade in Items from Conflict Zones Since 1954 Illegal

Posted by on Feb 25, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Impossible Standards? UK Bill Makes Trade in Items from Conflict Zones Since 1954 Illegal

Impossible Standards? UK Bill Makes Trade in Items from Conflict Zones Since 1954 Illegal

February 25, 2017.  A United Kingdom bill, the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Act 2017, has been enacted by Parliament. The Bill relates to the UK’s ratification and implementation of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Since 2004, successive UK governments have proposed Bills ratifying the Convention, but previous attempts failed. The chief controversy in the current Bill comes from clause 17(1) . This clause makes it a crime to deal in unlawfully exported cultural property that a dealer knows or has reason to suspect has been unlawfully exported from an occupied territory, and it is retroactive to items exported since 1954. No regulations have yet been enacted to administer the new legislation….

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About-Face on Antiquities Marketing

Posted by on Feb 25, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on About-Face on Antiquities Marketing

About-Face on Antiquities Marketing

February 25, 2017.  In a stunning philosophical and public-policy reversal, Antiquities Coalition founder and chairperson Deborah Lehr (in her private capacity as an international business consultant) has penned an article advocating that China open up its art and antiquities market to include Western auction firms in order to better China’s position as a player in the global art market. Ms. Lehr’s February 25, 2017 article in The Diplomat, entitled, “China’s Art Market is Booming – But Not for Foreigners,” is a refreshing and realistic acknowledgement of the benefits of a freer global market, through which private collectors have increased public access to art through museum-building in China. Ms. Lehr notes, correctly, that the Chinese government uses art as a cultural…

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Singapore & Taiwan Institutions Accommodate Protests

Posted by on Feb 25, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Singapore & Taiwan Institutions Accommodate Protests

Singapore & Taiwan Institutions Accommodate Protests

February 25, 2017.  Are museums acknowledging changing values among the public, are curators out of touch, or should this just never have happened? In Singapore, grassroots protests resulted in the renaming of the inaugural show at the the Memories of Old Ford Factory (MOFF), a building that is now a Singapore national monument. The MOFF, a venue dedicated to WW2 history, reopened after its refurbishment as the “Syonan Gallery” with the exhibition “Syonan Gallery: War and its Legacies” on on February 16, 2017. The exhibition memorialized the horrors of the Japanese occupation and Singapore’s gradual recovery in the immediate post-war years. The name Syonan-to, however, was what the Japanese renamed Singapore during their three-year occupation. The name alone sparked outrage…

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Poland Opens a Museum and Closes it Under Political Pressure

Posted by on Feb 25, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Poland Opens a Museum and Closes it Under Political Pressure

Poland Opens a Museum and Closes it Under Political Pressure

February 25, 2017.  Several stories this month illustrate how governments have politicized the content and the construction of museums in early 2017. Are governments rewriting history for their own purposes? In January, a Polish court upheld the government’s decision to close – after it had been open only a few days – the newly built Museum of the Second World War. The government says it plans to merge the new museum with another museum in a different location. This other museum currently only exists on paper. Some critics say the closure paves the way for a revisionist history meant to suit the Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS)) party’s conservative nationalistic agenda. The short-lived museum was situated near the…

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Are UK’s Local Art Collections Ripe for Nationalization?

Posted by on Feb 23, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Are UK’s Local Art Collections Ripe for Nationalization?

Are UK’s Local Art Collections Ripe for Nationalization?

February 23, 2017.  Since 2010, England has been cutting public funding to local museums across the country. Local authorities have reduced cultural budgets by as much as 30%, and further budgetary cuts of around 7% over the next three years are expected. Many in the UK are concerned with retaining public access to art and antiquities . They worry that the local councils that operate many of the UK’s smaller museums will not have sufficient funds to maintain them. An article by art historian Bendor Grosvenor, writing in the February 2017 edition of The Art Newspaper, raises concerns about the stability of Britain’s smaller local collections. Grosvenor makes a case that nationalization of these smaller collections could “protect” them from…

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Exhibition: Native Fashion Now!

Posted by on Feb 18, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Exhibition: Native Fashion Now!

Exhibition: Native Fashion Now!

February 18, 2017.  The Native Fashion Now exhibit opened February 16 at the Smithsonian’s  National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heye Center in New York. The show represents the innovations of over 50 years of contemporary indigenous fashion with the majority of the pieces being the creation of Native Americans. Sixty-seven US and Canadian artists and designers are represented in the exhibit that showcases the melding of generations-old design and technique and contemporary couture. From a totem pole designed dress to intricately beaded foot wear, native design-inspired urban street wear, to traditionally crafted jewelry incorporating non-traditional alloys, over 100 pieces express the height of contemporary indigenous fashion. Traditional materials such as feathers, beads, buckskin and quills are unifying…

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Two Events Showcase UK Systems for Preserving Treasure & Heritage

Posted by on Feb 8, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Two Events Showcase UK Systems for Preserving Treasure & Heritage

Two Events Showcase UK Systems for Preserving Treasure & Heritage

February 8, 2017.  The United Kingdom has an ingenious process for retaining key art and artifacts for the nation. An interconnected network of national and international laws enables the retention of key objects for the nation while permitting the circulation of art and artifacts that UK cultural authorities deem appropriate for export across the globe. The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is supervised by the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities and Treasure Department. PAS local posts are based in museums, universities and archaeological services all around England and Wales. Archaeological finds by the public, including both metal detectorist and accidental discoveries, are managed by local authorities, and after excavation, are digitally recorded and made available on the PAS online database. Academics, students,…

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Industry Behemoths Set Voluntary Rules for Art Business

Posted by on Feb 7, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Industry Behemoths Set Voluntary Rules for Art Business

Industry Behemoths Set Voluntary Rules for Art Business

February 7, 2017.  The Swiss Art Law Foundation, together with contributors from auction houses, major art galleries, insurers, law enforcement, and University of Geneva academics, have launched the Responsible Art Market Initiative, or RAM, setting guidelines for business practices throughout the art industry. The guidelines are voluntary. The RAM best practices for the entire range of art businesses are similar to a number of due diligence steps already recognized as a practical necessity in the antiquities market. The RAM acknowledges that application of the guidelines will depend on the size and resources of each art business and value of artworks. Following all of the RAM guidelines for each artwork sold would require an army of lawyers and researchers, and some…

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Canadian Library Acquires Rare Medieval Travelogue

Posted by on Feb 5, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Canadian Library Acquires Rare Medieval Travelogue

Canadian Library Acquires Rare Medieval Travelogue

February 5, 2017.  A Latin translation of the 12th century medieval travelogue, The Travels of Benjamin Tudela, captured the imagination of scores of 16th century readers with its tales of exotic lands and detailed descriptions of ancient cities. This fall the McMaster University Library’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections had the opportunity to acquire this rare and significant text for the benefit of medieval scholarship in Canada. Thrilled about the acquisition, Myron Groover, Archives and Rare Books Librarian at McMaster University Library, commented that the text is a “fantastic humanist artifact,” and says it complements McMaster’s strong collection of books from the renaissance period, as well as the Division’s growing collection of Judaic texts. “As far as…

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Obama Administration Packs CPAC Membership to Lock In Anti-Collecting Bias

Posted by on Feb 5, 2017 in ArtNews | Comments Off on Obama Administration Packs CPAC Membership to Lock In Anti-Collecting Bias

Obama Administration Packs CPAC Membership to Lock In Anti-Collecting Bias

February 5, 2017.  In its very last days, the Obama administration took time to pack the membership of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC), filling every available seat for three-year terms and making the committee top-heavy with archaeologists, anthropologists, and people committed to discouraging, if not ending, the trade in international ancient and ethnographic art. The White House appointed or re-appointed every member of CPAC in the administration’s last six months, filling eight seats in the last few weeks. The appointments were made in apparent disregard of the Cultural Property Implementation Act, which requires proportional museum, art trade, and public interest membership. In fact, some appointees seem to have been chosen on the basis that anyone but a real art…

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