Taking on Art Looters on Twitter
Monica Hanna at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dr. Hanna has come to the United States to draw attention to the looting of Egyptian artifacts.Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times
Monica Hanna stood inside the Malawi National Museum in Minya, Egypt, last August, armed only with a cellphone and her Twitter account, as looters ran rampant. Nearly all the objects she had loved since childhood undefined mummies and amulets, scarabs and carved ibises undefined were gone. In their place lay shattered glass, shards of pottery, splintered wood and the charred remains of a royal sarcophagus.
The thieves had stolen all but a few dozen of the museum’s 1,100 artifacts, leaving behind some statues and painted coffins that were too heavy to cart off. Dr. Hanna, a 30-year-old archaeologist, sent out a tweet pleading for help. Soon, she, some colleagues and local police officers were hauling the surviving relics to a truck as men fired automatic weapons nearby.
“We are trying to create communal watchdogs all around Egypt,” Dr. Hanna said in an interview this week from New York, where she is drawing attention to the looting in her homeland and to the power of social media to help curb it. “But for now we are like butter spread over too much bread.”