Friday, 3 May 2013

Cambodian statues to be returned from New York

Kneeling Attendant
Formerly New York MMA 1987.410 / 1992.390.1

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has announced that it will be returning two statues to Cambodia ("Metropolitan Museum of Art to Return Two Khmer Sculptures to Cambodia", May 3, 2013, press release).

Tom Campbell, the Director, is quoted:
“The Museum is committed to applying rigorous provenance standards not only to new acquisitions, but to the study of works long in its collections in an ongoing effort to learn as much as possible about ownership history. This is a case in which additional information regarding the Kneeling Attendants has led the Museum to consider facts that were not known at the time of the acquisition and to take the action we are announcing today. In returning the statues, the Museum is acting to strengthen the good relationship it has long maintained with scholarly institutions and colleagues in Cambodia and to foster and celebrate continued cooperation and dialogue between us.”
The announcement sets a significant precedent for other museums that are presented with additional information about collecting histories.

What other museums have acquired material from the same donors or collectors? Will they, too, be reviewing their acquisitions?

The Met's "rigorous provenance standards" will also no doubt extend to the Bothmer bequest of pottery fragments. It has already been shown (from the few published images) that a connection has been made with a collection in Rome.

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