Monday, November 16, 2009

Battle of Ideas: James Cuno speaks

James Cuno will be speaking at tomorrow evening's debate on "Who Owns Culture?" at the LSE (London School of Economics). The other speakers are:
  • Maurice Davies of the Museums Association
  • Tatiana Flessas of the LSE
Tiffany Jenkins will be chairing the debate.

It would be worth asking the question why the returns of antiquities to Italy (and Greece) have included so many high profile members of the AAMD, i.e. Cleveland Museum of Art, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Princeton University Art Museum, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. Any why have museums in the UK been relatively untouched by the same issues? Is it because UK museums (through the Museums Association) have stuck to ethical acquisition policies? Is it because wealthy benefactors have influenced decisions in the US?

My own thoughts on Cuno's Who Owns Antiquity? can be found here (from the AJA website). I suggested:
What [Cuno] has failed to notice is that the “battle” over the issues finished some time ago; he needs to engage with the creation of a new cultural landscape where museums and collectors value the information that can be derived from scientifically excavated objects.
I hope that Cuno reflects on the debate before he speaks tomorrow.

But I suspect he is unmoved. I have just reviewed his edited volume, Whose Culture?, and here is a flavour:
The failure of this volume to engage with the contemporary debate, and indeed to silence the voices of those who do not hold the editor’s position, hardly demonstrates, as Cuno would like, ‘that our public museums build their antiquities collections responsibly and for the public’s benefit’.
I hope that the panelists and audience will ask them some searching questions.

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1 comment:

Julio César Fernández said...

Interesting topic this. What will be the bottom of this is what I find interesting?

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