Monday, December 22, 2008

Financial Innovations and the Lease of Antiquities

I have been reading the Milken Institute's Financial Innovation Lab Report on Financial Innovations for Developing Archaeological Discovery and Conservation (December 2008) [pdf: registration required].

Three "Financial Innovations for Developing Archaeological Discovery and Conservation" are presented. (It is a pity that the innovations did not cover discovery, conservation and publication.)

The first solution is to "Promote long-term museum and exhibit leases". The report highlights the income generated by the recent treasures of King Tutankhamun tour which is expected to generate US $40 million for the new Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
These tours, while generating capital for the companies that sponsor them, could work within lease models, with museums collaborating on the exhibition of specific collections from countries of origin to create shared revenue pools.
There have been models for such collaborative loan schemes: a good example was provided by "The Emory University Museum International Loan Project" (EUMILOP) from the 1980s.

Would such leases cover the more eye-catching pieces? What about the less significant objects? Would such schemes encourage detailed publication (as EUMILOP achieved)? Would the money generated be returned to the conservation, preservation, display and publication of archaeological monuments and finds in the countries of origin? Or would the money be seen as part of a country's income stream?

Who would be the brokers in such leases? What would be their "cut"?

Who would decide on the choice of items? Museum curators? National archaeologists?

There are a plenty of questions and this only relates to the least controversial of the three "solutions".

1 comment:

John Muccigrosso said...

Surely something better can be done with all the objects that sit in storage or piled up - often haphazardly - in museums in, say, Italy.

Why shouldn't the home countries use these objects to generate revenue?

A bigger problem to my mind is that these state-run museums and the national structures that control them are ill-suited to take advantage of this potential economic gain. A well run museum in, e.g., Vetulonia, doesn't stand to earn money for itself by trying to arrange such international loans.

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