Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Promoting Licit Markets

Michael Conforti, president of the AAMD, has used an interview with the Art Newspaper to call for an opening up of the "licit market" in antiquities (Helen Stoilas, "New guidelines for US museums acquiring antiquities", The Art Newspaper July 17, 2008).
Some archaeologists would prefer that institutions not purchase such works at all, to ‘pretend they didn’t exist’ and thus not encourage the market for them.” But he says that there is still a market for such work outside of institutional buying. As a means of curbing the looting of archaeological sites, the AAMD promotes the creation of “licit markets” through which countries could legally export archaeological objects and “strongly urges all nations to provide a legal method for the sale and export of art.
It is a topic Conforti addressed earlier in the year, and last August (2007) I reviewed the potential sources for antiquities with "secure" histories.

Conforti also draws attention to the new AAMD's database:
The AAMD has set up a website where museums will be required to post “an image and the information about the work…and all facts relevant to the decision to acquire it, including its known provenance”. If further research uncovers questions over ownership, the museum is expected to “take whatever steps are necessary to address this claim, including, if warranted, returning the work, as has been done in the past”.
It is such a useful database that when I checked it today I still received the message:
There are currently no Cultures registered. Please check back again soon.
The Art Newspaper fails to draw attention to two key issues. It is not enough for AAMD institutions to say that they will (try) not (to) acquire material that surfaced after 1970.
a. What about long-term loans of antiquities to institutions? (This is a different issue to short-term loans for which the AAMD has a policy.)
b. What about disputed material already acquired?
So why not use the AAMD database / register to "publish" images of all antiquities acquired since 1970? And why not include short- and long-term loans?


1 comment:

David Gill said...

For an interview between Conforti and Lee Rosenbaum see CultureGrrl.

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