New deal for donors with problem antiquities

12 Mar 2013 8:44 AM | Anonymous

New deal for donors with problem antiquities

US museums promise to be more open about lack of provenance, but are new rules too flexible?

By Javier Pes and Helen Stoilas. News, Issue 244, March 2013
Published online: 12 March 2013

Just the kind of object that museums don’t want to acquire unwittingly: a looted pot recovered by the Carabinieri in 2005. Photo: Chris Helgren/REUTERS How art museums across North America collect archaeology and ancient art in an ethical way, avoiding the harm to institutional reputations and financial losses incurred if an item turns out to be looted, is under the spotlight after the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) changed its guidelines for its 200-plus members at the end of January.

Along with the new guidelines, the AAMD is improving its online database of objects without a cast-iron provenance that members have acquired: now, full disclosure about an object’s past and the reasons for its acquisition is obligatory. Of particular concern are the objects bequeathed or promised by donors before 2008, when the association tightened its rules on antiquities.

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