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July 2014 – Newsletter of the Committee for Cultural Policy


Welcome again to the Committee for Cultural Policy’s free digital newsletter! This month we feature successful museum cases in the courts, secret agreements, new discoveries in archeology, record-setting sales, and the world’s oldest pants!

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Here’s a taste of the articles on our website:

Secret Agreement Between Govt. of Egypt and International Coalition for the Protection of Egyptian Antiquities?

6-28-14   The much touted “public-private partnership” signed between Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Mohammed Ibrahim and the International Coalition to Protect Egyptian Antiquities (ICPEA) is apparently very private indeed.

ICPEA announced that its goals included enhancing physical site protection in Egypt, cultural heritage inventories of objects in Egyptian institutions, digitization of records, cultural heritage education campaigns around major archeological sites, and tourism-related small business incentives.

Most analysts agree that on-the-ground efforts, education, and direct policing of sites in source countries are the most effective means of protecting vulnerable archaeological sites around the world.

However, that may not be all that ICPEA has agreed to. An official statement by Minister Ibrahim suggests that the Egyptian government sees the partnership differently.   Read more…

Myth Busters: Art/Terror Connection Debunked

6-23-14  Internationally known cultural heritage specialist Professor Derek Fincham of South Texas College of Law debunked the myth linking art and antiquities smuggling with terrorism in a recent posting. Fincham noted that a series of articles in news sources from The Guardian to National Geo have harped on the theme of an art-terrorism connection without providing any evidence that one exists. “They cannot resist the big headline,” he says, “…the connections which are made point to antiquities looting as being a very minor, if inconsequential aspect of the activities of these groups.”   Read more…

AAMD Sanctions Delaware Art Museum As Museum Sells PreRaphaelite Masterwork

6-20-2014  The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) announced that it was placing formal sanctions on the Delaware Art Museum on June 19, 2014, for having deaccessioned and sold a work of art from its collection to pay outstanding debt and build its operating endowment. The first painting sold by the museum on June 18 at Christie’s was one of the major works in its Pre-Raphaelite collection, William Holman Hunt’s 1868 Isabella and the Pot of Basil. The $4.25 million sale price was far short of the painting’s $8.4 million to $13.4 million estimate. Although the museum has not announced what other works may be sold, Winslow Homer’s 1875 Milking Time and Alexander Calder’s 1959 Black Crescent mobile have disappeared from the Wilmington museum’s galleries and database.   Read more…

Eight Teel Gifts Returned to Nigeria by MFA Boston

6-27-2014   The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which received a bequest of 300 works of art from Africa and Oceania from long-time museum supporters William E. and Bertha Teel, has delivered eight objects to representatives of the Government of Nigeria after research into their provenance. The Teels were enthusiastic collectors who played a significant role in bringing the art of sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania to the MFA and other museums and institutions. They endowed a curatorial post for African and Oceanic art at the MFA and a selection of their collection is now displayed in the MFA’s recently refreshed Arts of Africa Gallery.

The MFA now employs a full-time curator of provenance, Victoria Reeds. When the Nigerian pieces arrived at the MFA, Reed went through the collection, object by object, asking questions.  She determined that two terracotta heads produced in the Kingdom of Benin and a group of Kalabari screen figures had been removed without permission. The museum eventually requested permission of the Government of Nigeria to accession the eight pieces, which Nigeria declined to give.   Read more…

New York State Bans Ivory Sales

6-20-2014   New York State’s legislature amended the state’s environmental law on June 20, 2014 to ban elephant ivory sales with only a few exceptions. The legislation permanently bans the sale of elephant and mammoth ivory and rhino horn. It authorizes a very limited exclusion for objects including less than 20 percent elephant ivory by volume that are over 100 years old with documented proof of provenance – a difficult standard that excludes almost all ivory objects, including antique American objects from sale. Commentator and art lawyer Michael McCullough has an explanation for why New York regulators would choose to halt the trade in antique and even ancient ivory.   Read More…

Barefoot Egyptian Statue to be Sold By Northampton (Shoe) Museum

6-16-2014   In July, Christie’s London is auctioning an Old Kingdom, Late Dynasty 5, Egyptian painted limestone statue believed to be from Saqqara in Lower Egypt, known as the Northampton Sekhemka. Sekhemka, according to an inscription on the base of the statue, held the rank of Inspector of the Scribes of the Court. He is depicted seated, with his wife Sitmerit sitting at his feet. Christie’s has publicized the statue as the most important Egyptian sculpture ever to come to market; it is estimated to sell for £4-6 million.
The sculpture was given to the Northampton Museum either by the 3rd or 4th Marquess of Northampton prior to 1880. The Northampton Museum is perhaps best known today for its collection of footwear; its collection of 12,000 shoes is the largest in the world and includes footwear from ancient Egypt.   Read More…

St. Louis Art Museum Prevails in Ka Nefer Nefer Mummy Mask Case

6-15-2014  A lengthy and convoluted case involving an ancient Egyptian mask purchased by the St. Louis Art Museum — that began in 2011 — was finally resolved on June 12, 2014. In response to the U.S. federal government’s appeal of the district court’s dismissal of the government’s case against the museum last year, the Eighth Circuit’s Ka Nefer Nefer Appellate Decision held that the district court had not abused its discretion in dismissing the case, leaving any discussion of what it described as “an attempt to expand the government’s forfeiture powers at the likely expense of museums and good faith purchasers in the international marketplace for ancient artifacts” for another day.    Read More…

Sales and Exhibitions in June: Themes of Communication Across History and Culture

A number of exhibition openings and sales in June focused on how ancient themes resonate within contemporary art and culture. Each explores the formal similarities within ancient and contemporary art . The underlying theme of each event, however, is that art is capable of transcending a specific national identity and serving as a means of communication across cultures.

A selection of 72 artworks drawn from the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Asian Art Museum “challenge visitors to confront the extremes and the ambiguities of beauty in the special exhibition “Gorgeous.”

A group exhibition presenting ancient objects alongside contemporary paintings at Sean Kelly Gallery in New York, ‘From Pre-history to Post-Everything,’  reiterates a theme familiar since the early days of celebrated gallerist Andre Emmerich: ancient art forms inform and inspire contemporary art.

A Paris sale reminded the art world of the integration of ethnographic sculpture into the conceptualization of modern art in the early twentieth century. The sale at Sotheby’s of an extremely important Fang sculpture from Cameroon also exploited the link between ethnographic works and early twentieth century abstract art – and the building of the collection at the Musee Quai Branly.

New UNESCO World Heritage Sites for 2014

UNESCO has added twenty-six new sites to its World Heritage List for 2014. In an unusual decision, two road networks were added to the list: a 5,000 kilometer section of the Silk Roads stretching from Chang’an/Luoyang, the Chinese capital in the Han and Tang Dynasties through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to the Zhetysu  Region of Central Asia. In South America, Inca trails known as the Qhapac Ñan  Andean Road System were added, which span six countries and include 273 component sites spreading a distance of 6,000 kilometers.  Read More

World’s Oldest Pants Worn By Hash-Using Shamans?

Dr. Mayke Wagner, team leader, and archeologists from the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin, along with Chinese archeologists, may have discovered the world’s oldest pants. The ancient trousers were found in the graves of two mummified males in Central Asia’s Xinjiang region, close to the Turfan oasis, in the Tarim Basin. The two men were identified by the archeological team as “shamans” of approximately forty years old. One of the men was found with stalks of cannabis near his head.  Read more…

photo: Colegota, File:Taklamakan-d40.jpg

Charlemagne Anniversary Coin Exhibition

The Octagon Gallery of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England recognizes the role of Charlemagne as ‘beacon, king and father of Europe’ in the exhibition, Building an Empire: Money, Trade and Power in the Age of Charlemagne on the 1200th anniversary of his death. The exhibition displays a selection of the finest medieval coins from the Museum’s own collection of Frankish, Anglo-Saxon, Viking, Byzantine and Islamic coins to illustrate the complex political, economic and cultural ties of the period. Read more…

Archeological News in Brief: Discoveries in France and Egypt

A government authorized excavation under a disused soccer field revealed a remarkable profusion of statuary dating to the mid second century AD. The work was done by the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) in advance of building a shopping center at Pont-Sainte-Maxence. So far, archeologists have reported on an elaborate frieze in which a crouching Venus together with extremely expressive head of an old woman. Other gods and goddesses alternate with seated griffons with spread wings. Numerous fragments represent divine attributes…

Spanish archeologists under the direction of Jose Galan, leader of the Djehuty Project excavation, have located an eleventh dynasty tomb in Luxor, probably belonging to a high ranking statesman or royal individual, based upon the size of the tomb. It was located in the Dra Abu el-Naga necropolis, in the ancient city of Thebes…  Read more…

St. Louis Archeological Sites Threatened by Development, Neglect

Remains of the Mississipian civilization are rapidly disappearing and Missouri legislators are standing idle, according to a news report by author  Mark Leach, who began digging in the region as a child and became an enthusiast and student of the culture. Leach reported that expansion and development in the St. Louis and other metropolitan areas and the fact that many sites are on private land has resulted in the loss of many of Missouri’s ancient sites.  Read more…

La Brea Tar Pits Exhibition Restored

The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, located in Hancock Park adjacent to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has reopened a child-and-adult-pleasing exhibition after several decades of closure. The mid-century Observation Pit designed by Henry Sims Bent in 1958 to showcase the archeological process is now available to the public for special tours. Read more…

Tales From the Crypt

A review of recent pronouncements on the proposed Memorandum of Understanding with Egypt discussed June 2, 2014 by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee appears to show that support or opposition depends on your willingness to suspend disbelief and respond to a tug on your emotions — rather than actual facts.  Read more…

The Committee for Cultural Policy

Box 4881 Santa Fe, NM 87502
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The Committee for Cultural Policy is a U.S. non-profit educational organization.

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