In my Sunday post on recent cultural-property news and controversies, I argued (and demonstrated) that some members of the Association of Art Museum Directors appeared to be using the group’s Object Registry “as a pretext to skirt the UNESCO guidelines [regarding acquisition of antiquities and other cultural property] that they purport to uphold.” I asserted that museums need to be more “rigorously and scrupulously vigilant in following both
the letter and the spirit” of AAMD’s own acquisition guidelines.
Today, at my request, AAMD’s executive director, Christine Anagnos, responded to that post:
AAMD’s members understand that it is important to follow these guidelines—and we have every confidence that our members are doing so [emphasis added].
The Object Registry supports those guidelines by making it possible for members to acquire objects about which there may be unknown provenance details–and at the same time, publish those acquisitions in such a way as to encourage anyone with additional information to come forward.
A lawyer for a major antiquity-collecting museum volunteered a different reaction to my analysis: “Nicely done.”
At the very least, I hope my comments may stimulate some conversation and soul-searching within the field.
I welcome your further comments.