Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Video Visit to the Acropolis Museum


"A short visit to the Acropolis Museum" posted on YouTube by TheAcropolisMuseum
Directed by Konstantinos Arvanitakis, Music: Yiannis Drenogiannis, Post Production: digimojo Production House. Copyright: Acropolis Museum
While on the topic, here's a video of the work being done in the Acropolis Museum on the cleaning and conservation of the Caryatids, the Kore from the south porch of the Erechtheion temple. Visitors had the opportunity to watch conservators do the delicate work of cleaning the Caryatids with advanced laser technology.


"Conserving the Caryatids", posted on YouTube by TheAcropolisMuseum Directed by Konstantinos Arvanitakis, Post Production: digimojo Production House. Copyright: Acropolis Museum

This month, the conservation work project carried out on the Caryatids of the Erectheion South Porch, using laser was awarded the 2012 Keck Award by the International Institute of Conservation (IIC) in Vienna. The Keck Award, endowed by Sheldon and Caroline Keck, is presented every two years at the IIC Congress to the individual or group who has, in the opinion of the Council, contributed most towards promoting public understanding and appreciation of the accomplishments of the conservation profession. The British Museum took small hammers and wire brushes to the Acropolis Marbles they claim to be "looking after". 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Flynn on New Moves to Return the Parthenon Marbles

Tom Flynn has a piece published yesterday 'Greece prepares for fresh assault on the British Museum over the Parthenon Marbles'(20th Sept 2012).

This follows the announcement by the Greek Ministry of Culture that it will now re-establish a special advisory committee to coordinate actions which will secure the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles currently held in Britain. He quotes 'Alternate Culture Minister' Costas Tzavaras saying:
"Greece's moral right is above every objection that is based on arguments aired as mere delay tactics, and aiming to brush aside the basic principle that is universally applied, namely, the necessity of cultural monuments to be repatriated, meaning a return to the place of their origin".
Flynn comments:
That word "universally" jumps off the page. I'm not so sure the British Museum — the self-styled "universal" museum par excellence — would subscribe to any principle, basic or otherwise, that would support the repatriation of cultural monuments to their place of origin. Meanwhile, December could be crunch time for the Greek economy, with commentators of every stripe queuing up to predict Greece's exit from the Eurozone. Were that to happen it would surely increase the desire for repatriation of the Marbles as Greece seeks to reassemble its sense of national pride and cultural identity. If the Marbles are essential to the British Museum's tourist revenues — which we know them to be — it logically follows that they would bring a similar benefit to the New Acropolis Museum were they to be installed where they belong in the new museum's beautiful Parthenon Galleries. It will be interesting to see whether this new cultural committee manages (where past initiatives have signally failed) to maintain its momentum and presses its claim through the proper diplomatic channels with a tough follow-through.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The "Repatriation Debate" According to FT

The Financial Times has an article today which its author Peter Aspden claims is a presentation of the "repatriation debate". But I cannot share and comment on it as I would like, as the paper tells its readers: "High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article". As far as I am concerned therefore, readers can find for  themselves this "high quality journalism". I did not read it, but on skimming it note that it seems to have a big chunk which looks as if it's cobbled together from Cuno's book. What are the chances that this text it goes beyond the usual object-centred arguments and the "how to protect your investment in art" advice?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Italian Group Requests Return of Mona Lisa to Florence

A formal request has been made to Aurelie Filippetti (pictured) for the painting to be given back
Aurelie Filippetti says 'no'.
It is being reported that campaigners of the National Committee for Historical, Cultural and Environmental Heritage in Italy have collected over 150,000 signatures calling on the Louvre museum in Paris to hand over Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to Florence where its painting was begun. Committee President Silvano Vincenti said he has made a formal request to the French minister of culture, Aurelie Filippetti, for the painting to be given back.
Leonardo is thought to have begun work on the enigmatic portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of a wealthy Tuscan silk merchant, in Florence in 1503. But art historians think he took it with him when he moved to France in 1516. The French Royal family then acquired it and following a spell at Versailles it ended up at the Louvre museum after the French Revolution. 
So, no real grounds for it "going back" it seems to me. Surely this is just a publicity stunt.

Source: Michael Day, 'Give us back the Mona Lisa: Italian campaigners demand France returns world's most famous painting to 'home city' of Florence', Daily Mail 7th Sept 2012.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Penn-Turkey, Loan Resolution of Restitution Claim

This necklace is one of the items on long-term loanto Turkey.The University of Pennsylvania's Penn Museum has made a deal with Turkey over 24 pieces of ancient Trojan-style gold jewellery that seems to have been looted from northwestern Turkey in the 1960s. It has lent the pieces to that country for an indefinite period.
 In exchange, the Turkish government pledged to lend other artifacts for a one-year exhibit at Penn's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology[...] The country also promised support for ongoing excavations by Penn scholars within its borders. The exchange represents an amicable agreement in a realm often marked by rancor [...]  The 24 pieces of gold jewelry, dated to 2400 B.C., were purchased by the Penn museum from a dealer in 1966, but were not accompanied by any documents that established their origin. [... the evidence of their Turkish provenance...] is highly likely but it's not conclusive," [Julian] Siggers [new director of the Penn museum since July] said. "That's why it goes as an indefinite loan as opposed to being given back. . . . They're delighted to have this back, but I think everybody wins here."
The clinching evidence of the origins of the items was some dirt in one of the loops which was found by  neutron activation analysis to have high arsenic levels.
That amount of arsenic, 40 parts per million, is similar to levels found in northwestern Turkey, he said. But Pernicka, who also studied the metal itself, said he could not prove it was from Turkey, adding that Greece was a possible alternative. This knowledge gap illustrates what can happen when artifacts are not excavated in an academic fashion, said C. Brian Rose, curator of the Penn museum's Mediterranean section and a professor of archaeology. "There's no question that it was looted," Rose said. "We're just not sure of the exact place from which it was looted." The Penn museum purchased the objects because of their similarity to others known to be from Troy - the city that inspired the Iliad, Homer's account of the Trojan War. But officials were troubled by the uncertain origin of the objects, and the museum decided in 1970 it would no longer acquire undocumented artifacts. It was the first museum to make that move. 
It turns out that the items had been bought in 1966 from Robert E. Hecht Jr. who had "bought the items from a middleman and did not know if they had been illegally excavated. He said he was not bothered by the lack of documentation. "The main thing is the beauty of the thing," Hecht said".


Tom Avril, 'Penn museum lends possibly plundered items to Turkey' Philadelphia Inquirer, Sep. 6, 2012,

Kathy Matheson, 'Penn Museum makes deal with Turkey for 'Troy gold', The Associated Press  Sept 4th 2012.

Vignette: One of the necklaces (Charles Fox, )