Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Politics of Culture: James Cuno and Michael Conforti

I have been listening to the discussion between James Cuno and Michael Conforti (President of AAMD) on KCRW. They discussed Cuno's book and the AAMD's new guidelines on acquisitions. Key themes of partage and the licit market in antiquities popped up.

Ruth Seymour chaired the discussion and demonstrated that she did not understand the issues. She was clearly shocked by the treatment of the J. Paul Getty Museum at the hands of the Los Angeles Times and merely saw the Getty Villa as a way of introducing "Greek Art" to a Californian viewing public. There was no acknowledgement that the antiquities returned to Italy from North American institutions (as well as a private collector and a dealer in antiquities) appear to have come from destroyed archaeological contexts in Italy. The discussion also explored the common ground between Cuno's approach and the AAMD.

Conforti also drew attention to the AAMD's "Object Register": although the interview was more than two weeks ago, you still get the message, "There are currently no Object Types registered". How about posting the acquisition details of the pieces in the Cleveland Museum of Art that are reported to be under negotiation with the Italian authorities?

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