Skip to main content

AAMD Object Registry: "pieces with problematic pasts"

Drusus from an old Algerian collection
Source: Cleveland Museum of Art
Over on Culturegrrl there has been an important discussion of the AAMD Object Registry in response to the Getty's latest return to Italy. Lee Rosenbaum rightly draws attention to Maxwell Anderson's totally honourable and professional use of the Registry to rehearse much earlier acquisitions (and that have led to a sizeable return of objects to Italy as part of Almagià-gate).

Lee Rosenbaum makes the point about the AAMD guidelines on acquisitions:
The purpose of these rules was to diminish financial incentives for looters and their marketplace enablers. This intended benefit is lost If museums repeatedly demonstrate a willingness to shell out money for pieces with problematic pasts, using their publication on a registry as a pretext to skirt the UNESCO guidelines that they purport to uphold.
This comment has a response from Christine Anagnos of the AAMD: "AAMD's members understand that it is important to follow these guidelines---and we have every confidence that our members are doing so".

A good example of a recent acquisition (publicised on the AAMD Object Registry) that has been raising wider concerns was the Roman portrait of Drusus acquired by the Cleveland Museum of Art from an old Algerian collection via an interesting group in Paris. Of course Cleveland could pop up details of the so-called Cleveland Apollo, or the Bubon bronze of Marcus Aurelius. Or if Anagnos was serious about the AAMD Guidelines she could intervene.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know


Popular posts from this blog

Codename: Ainsbrook

I have been watching (UK) Channel 4's Time Team this evening. The programme looked at an undisclosed field (under a potato crop) where a Viking burial had been found. The location in Yorkshire was so sensitive that it was given a codename: Ainsbrook. Here is the summary:
In late 2003 two metal detectorists were working in a field in Yorkshire. They found 'treasure' buried just beneath the surface – a collection of Viking material next to a body. Although they had been detecting on the site for a number of years, during which time they had made large numbers of finds, nothing they had uncovered previously compared with this. They decided to share their discovery with archaeologists.The programme explored the tension between metal-detectorists and the English Heritage sponsored archaeologists putting six trenches into the field based on a geo-physical survey. Finds made by the metal-detectorists did not easily map onto the archaeological features.

Part of the programme had an …

The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

I will provide more information in due course, but the researcher is a reminder that we need to take due diligence seriously when it comes to making acquisitions.

Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

It appeared that the stele had been supplied with a falsified history as its presence with Becchina until 1990 contradicted the published sale catalogue entry. It then moved into the hands of George Ortiz.

A year ago it was suggested that Sotheby's should contact the Greek authorities. Those negotiations appear to have concluded successfully.

The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.