Saturday, December 1, 2007

"We are ushering in a new era"

A conference attended by North American museum directors and Italian cultural authorities was held in Rome held this week (Elisabetta Povoledo, "Progress Seen in Talks on Antiquities", New York Times, December 1, 2007). This is a positive move after the return of antiquities from Boston, Malibu, New York, and Princeton.

Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli not only claimed "We are ushering in a new era" but:
The phase that was tied to illegal activity through unacceptable channels is closed, and we have arrived at a turning point where we have become partners against illegal traffic.
There is a new spirit of collaboration. Does this mean that other North American museums have come to an agreement with the Italian authorities?

It is perhaps a pity that, in this week of constructive dialogue, Philippe de Montebello of the Metropolitan Museum of Art chose to release a defiant message through his interview with Richard Lacayo. Was the timing a coincidence? Or are de Montebello's controversial views now being placed to one side?

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