Jenifer Neils, who has written on the Parthenon, is well placed to review James Cuno's Who Owns Antiquity? (American Scientist April 29, 2009) [review with Swharon Waxman's Loot]. Cuno does not seem to get the message being sent to him from the reviews -- and Neils puts it well:
Although [Cuno] strives to be ecumenical, pulling his examples from China, Nigeria, Turkey and Italy, his arguments are one-sided and hence surprisingly narrow. He supports the now outdated and largely rejected practices of museums that acquire antiquities without documented provenance. And he utterly fails to provide any other perspectives, especially those of archaeologists.
Cuno is a museum director whose writ is clearly to defend the acquisition practices of the major western museums in light of increasing pressure to refrain from purchasing objects of dubious or no provenance. The public might be better served by less atavistic museum professionals, ones who could address our changing times and evolving ethical standards and offer creative solutions for the enjoyment of our collective past.I hope that Cuno's voice in Whose Culture? has been toned down ...