Monday, July 21, 2014

Peru Seeks Repatriation of 400 Cultural Artifacts from New York

Rachel Chase, Peru This Week
Julu 16, 2014

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art currently houses hundreds of artifacts from the Mochica culture— and Peru wants them back.

Peruvian cultural artifacts are making their way home from all over the world— Sweden’s return of the Paracas textiles being a particularly high-profile incidence of repatriation. Now, the regional government of Piura is looking to get back 400 pieces currently housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
El Comercio reports that the pieces in question were found in the Loma Negra cemetery, an area in which a number of Mochica elite were buried. Grave robbers sacked the tombs in the 1960s, and no extensive investigation into the site has been carried out, writes El Comercio.
According to El Comercio, the pieces arrived in New York in the 1970s, and include metal masks made of copper and gold as well as a large amount of ceramic objects.
Rafael Sime, regional director of culture, said that returning the pieces is “the most sensible [thing to do].”
Sime added that “I think we need to think about where we are going to exhibit the pieces. We must know if we’re prepared with the adequate [facilities] in order to generate a museum plan. That’ll require a budget. We’re going to put together a project to look into these details.”
Famed archaeologist Walter Alva echoed Sime’s sentiments in a recent interview in Piura: “We can appeal to the good will of the American government. But a museum is needed to push this measure forward and to retrieve the pieces. Without a museum, it’s more difficult.”
More here

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

16th National Tribal Preservation Conference

16th National Tribal Preservation Conference

"You are invited to participate in the conference, which is open to all interested participants whether or not you are a THPO or NATHPO member.  We encourage all individuals who are interested in learning more about tribal cultural preservation and sharing your knowledge and experiences."

Helpful links for conference logistics:

Indian Summer Festival is the weekend before NATHPO conference.

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Email Jill Norwood for more information and for the applicable forms. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Controversial Sale of Museum's 4,500-year-old Egyptian Statue Set to Raise Millions at Auction

Culture 24
July 2, 2014

The controversial sale of a 4,500-year-old Egyptian statue, set to proceed at a Christie’s auction next week which could raise up to £6 million, will put Northampton Museum and Art Gallery’s future loans and fundraising prospects in jeopardy, the Museums Association has warned.

Under the terms of the Arts Council’s Accreditation status, which allows the museum to exchange items with fellow venues and apply for grants and funding, members are banned from selling items unless they have no other options.

Speaking ahead of a public consultation in late 2012, Councillor Brandon Eldred, of Northampton Borough Council, said leaders would use the proceeds from Sekhemka to bring “the very best of our heritage” to a wider audience.

“The statue of Sekhemka is a valuable asset and we do appreciate its significance as an artefact,” he insisted.

“But we have decided to sell it and reinvest the money back into developing Northampton Museum and other parts of our cultural heritage.

“Every penny raised will go into projects that help to tell the story of our town’s history.”

More here.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Sacred Hopi Tribal Masks are Again Sold at Auction in Paris

Mike Boehm, The Los Angeles Times
June 28, 2014

Another group of sacred Hopi masks was gaveled away at a Paris auction Friday, over the objections of tribe members and the U.S. Embassy in Paris, Agence France Presse has reported.

In Hopi tradition, the masks don’t merely represent spirits, but embody them, making it a sacrilege to collect and display them, or otherwise use them outside the ceremonies for which they were made.

An appeal to a Paris court on Thursday failed, the news agency reported, and the Eve auction house went ahead with the sale, which also included Navajo artifacts. However, only nine of the 29 masks were sold, for an average price of about $20,800. A 19th century mask fetched the highest price, $51,000.

The auction was at least the third one in Paris in the last 15 months to have taken place over U.S. and Native American objections.

More here

Friday, July 04, 2014

Museum of Fine Arts Returns Eight Artifacts to Nigeria

Geoff Edgers, the Boston Globe
June 22, 2014 

Eight Nigerian artifacts that were probably stolen decades ago and illegally sent to the United States have been returned to the West African country by the Museum of Fine Arts, according to museum officials, who said Nigerian authorities planned to announce the transfer on Thursday.

The decision to return the artworks, including a 2,000-year-old terra-cotta head, was the culmination of an 18-month pursuit through dusty records and old gallery brochures, untangling an art-world mystery that spanned several continents. Along the way, the MFA discovered that one item, a brass altar figure, had probably been stolen from the royal palace in Benin City as recently as the 1970s.

All of the works were purchased by the late Marblehead collectors William and Bertha Teel, longtime supporters of the MFA, whose 2013 bequest gave the museum more than 300 works. The couple, according to the museum, had no idea of the shady provenance of items in their collection.

More here

Sunday, June 29, 2014

National Center for Civil and Human Rights Opens in Atlanta

Edward Rothstein, The New York Times
June 22, 2014 

Atlanta — It isn’t that great a distance from the birthplace of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Auburn Avenue here to the $68 million, 42,000 square-foot National Center for Civil and Human Rights that is opening on Monday near Centennial Olympic Park. The two sites, though, seem as if they’ve emerged not just from different time periods, but from different and incompatible universes.

In the first universe, into which Dr. King was born, there were Jim Crow laws like this Georgia statute: “The marriage of a white person with a Negro or Mulatto or a person who shall have one eighth or more of Negro blood, shall be unlawful and void.” Or this one: “It shall be unlawful for any amateur White baseball team to play baseball on any vacant lot within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race.”

In the other universe — our own — is this new museum whose main exhibition recalls those Jim Crow laws but whose very presence shows how much has changed. It has been built alongside the main tourist attractions of Atlanta’s downtown on land donated by the Coca-Cola Company, which runs the nearby World of Coca-Cola museum. Across a plaza is the immense Georgia Aquarium which has become an international destination. And across the park is the Inside CNN studio tour.

More here

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sweden Returns Pre-Incan Funeral Shroud to Peru

Franklin Briceno, the Wichita Eagle
June 16, 2014

A rare and fragile pre-Incan funeral shroud was displayed to reporters Monday, part of the first batch of ancient Paracas textiles that Sweden is returning to Peru 80 years after they were smuggled out by a diplomat.

The intricately colored shroud, measuring 41 inches by 21 inches (104 centimeters by 53 centimeters), and 88 other textiles were donated to a museum in Gothenburg in the early 1930s by Swedish consul Sven Karell. He had secreted them out of Peru after they were discovered in the Paracas Peninsula, a desert south of Lima where the extremely dry climate helped protect the Alpaca wool fibers.

More here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

3D Printing of Chinese Cultural Artifacts Causes Controversy

Hannah Rose Mendzola
3D Printer and Printing News, June 14, 2014

"Can something priceless have its value damaged by making copies? Artist Oliver Laric doesn’t think so, but his position has not found universal agreement. Laric, who has already made a name for himself through 3D scanned prints of numerous works of art, became fully enmeshed in this controversy when he created 3D scans of seven columns from the Old Summer Palace in Beijing. The plot thickens when you add in the fact that these scans were made in Norway, where the columns are currently housed, after having been removed from China in the 1860′s.

This story starts out as many museum acquisition controversies do: Western intervention in a society resulted in the removal of culturally valuable artifacts that then become part of a Western museum’s permanent collection. The question then becomes, whether or not there is an obligation (either ethical or legal) to return the artifacts to their place or people of origin. In this particular case, the decision has been made to return to the columns to China where they will reside in the collection of Peking University. However, this is not the end of the struggle to define their ownership.

Now that the columns are destined to be returned, the existence of scanned copies of them is seen by some as yet another attempt to steal them. For Laric though, the point isn’t that exact replicas exist to be appreciated in lieu of the originals, but rather that the very dialog of authenticity be expanded. This is especially necessary, given the advanced 3D scanning and printing technologies available and those yet to come. The very nature of the digital world is one in which copies are continuously produced and the line between piracy, flattery, and imitation is still being defined."

More here.