BREAKING: The Met Returns Two Khmer Statues to Cambodia, Citing Clear Evidence Of Looting

10 05 2013

Glad to see leaders of the Museum world doing what’s right. Check out this blog by the authors of Chasing Aphrodite that explains the most recent works the Metropolitan has agreed to repatriate to Cambodia.

CHASING APHRODITE

DP212330-1UPDATE: The New York Times reported May 15 that Cambodia is also planning to ask for the return of a statue of Hanuman at the Cleveland Museum of Art. This is in addition to the Norton Simon Bhima and the Denver Rama we’ve written about previously, which Cambodian officials also want returned. All are said to have been taken from the same temple complex at Koh Ker. Neither Cleveland nor Denver would disclose the origins or collecting histories of the contested statues.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has agreed to return two ancient Khmer statues to Cambodia after reviewing clear evidence that they were looted. Here’s Jason’s story in Friday’s LA Times:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has agreed to return two ancient statues to Cambodia after receiving convincing evidence they had been looted and smuggled out of the country illegally.

The 10th century Khmer statues, known as the Kneeling Attendants, have flanked the…

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Good book alert: Chasing Aphrodite

5 03 2012

Who knew the antiquities market was so dirty? Or that art museums had such an appetite for stolen goods?

I recently finished Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museums by Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino. This book expands upon a series of Pulitzer Prize nominated exposés Felch and Frammolino wrote for the Los Angeles Times in 2006. The Getty Museum and its Board, Director, and antiquities curators were the focus of the original articles, and the central focus of the book as well. However, the Met and many other museums are not spared scrutiny in this eye-opening book.

While this book is not comprehensive of looted antiquities worldwide, its focus on the struggles with Italian and Greek antiquities looting is in-depth and extraordinary. Appropriately, the authors pin the blame for the looted antiquities trade (that flourished into the 1990’s) among all parties involved: art museum curators that failed to properly research objects provenance, art museum boards that pretended they weren’t approving the purchase of stolen objects, antiquities dealers for brings the objects to market, collectors for knowingly buying stolen objects, the looters themselves, and the Italian and Greek governments for failed efforts to guard antiquities. The authors also chronicle the changes made by US museums and the Italian government that has all but shutdown the illegal antiquities market.

Despite being a non-fiction book, the authors make it read like a novel.By the end of it, you’ll have felt a myriad of emotions for the embattled antiquities curator at the center of the Getty’s woes; she had the world on a platter, and lost it all because of hubris and carelessness.

If you’re interested in current looting issues, be sure to read this February 28,2012 New York Times article. Sotheby’s Auction House pulled a 1000 year old Cambodian warrior from its spring 2011 auction after it became clear that the object had a fake provenance and was in fact, looted.





Would you see it?

1 12 2009

I came across this piece from the New York Times, “The Manly Art of Curating” and thought it was most certainly worth sharing.

This article looks at the new “Arts of the Samurai” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has brought in an otherwise lacking demographic to the museum; middle-aged men.  The tone of the article is not too serious, but the author brings up some very real museum issues – for instance, a question we all come up against, how do we entice under-represented audience segments?

The author also jokes about other potential exhibition themes which would bring in middle-aged men, which makes me wonder how seriously we should take these mock exhibitions… it’s fun to laugh off these ideas and joke about ‘what if’, but are these a viable direction institutions should be taking, or would they be sacrificing some level of integrity in doing so?

My favorite suggestion from this article is “Stuff that Blows Up”; who wouldn’t want to see that exhibition?!








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