I have been reflecting on how major North American museums managed to get themselves into a situation where they acquired recently surfaced antiquities. Indeed they have exposed themselves to criticism from foreign governments, academia and the media.
I presume the motivation was to build a collection of classical antiquities that would rival other museums. Curatorial careers were built on the finest Greek pot, or should that be vase?, or the most unusual archaic marble statue. but did those curators never stop and think about the sources? Had these genuinely unknown objects really resided in some anonymous villa beside Lake Geneva? Or did these same curators suspect that they were derived from the deliberate destruction of archaeological sites? But did they care? Or were they just naive?
The move to address this problem was brought to the world's attention by bodies such as UNESCO and the AIA. From the North American museum community we should also note Maxwell Anderson's pioneering and visionary EUMILOP scheme.
We continue to note a significant lack of transparency from within the North American museum community over the failure to address concerns over recently acquired and loaned objects.
Have some of the legal and art historical commentators forgotten that there continue to be a number of unresolved issues?
But I should return to the question. Why were these objects acquired? Was it because there was a disregard for the information derived from careful scientific excavation?