Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sweet Briar College Returns 400-year-old Artifacts to Quapaw Tribe

Jennifer McManamay, Sweet Briar College
July 25, 2014

A month ago, Karol Lawson surveyed the trunk of her Volkswagon Jetta and judged its contents — carefully packed in clean white boxes wedged among quilted blankets — ready for a journey of more than 1,000 miles. Though she didn’t know it then, in two days’ time a man from the Quapaw Tribe of Indians would sweep a frying pan filled with smoldering hickory, red oak and cedar over the emptied trunk, fanning the smoke with an eagle feather.
If the smoking custom was unknown to Lawson, director of the Sweet Briar Art Collection and Galleries, she understood very well the cultural significance of her cargo. She drove to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville to repatriate funerary objects excavated in 1932 from the Nodena archaeological site in Mississippi County, Ark., and donated to the College. The boxes contained 10 ceramic bottles, jars and bowls once buried with human remains.
The items likely predate European contact with the ancestors of the people known today as the Quapaw — making the ceramics at least 400 years old. Lawson carried them into her hotel room each night for safekeeping.
More here

Friday, July 25, 2014

US Museums Provide Emergency Support for Syria

Julia Halperin, The Art Newspaper
18 July 2014

US museums are teaming up with the Syrian Interim Government’s Heritage Task Force to help protect Syrian museum collections and stem the loss of cultural heritage amid the country’s ongoing civil war.
Late last month, experts from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and the Pennsylvania Museum’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center quietly organised a three-day training session for curators, heritage experts and civilians in an undisclosed location outside of Syria. Around 20 people from several Syrian provinces attended the event, which focused on securing high-risk collections. 

“Local communities are best equipped to identify heritage in need of preservation and protection, and this is precisely what is happening in Syria,” says Richard Leventhal, the executive director of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center, in a statement. 

Experts are still working to determine the extent of looting that has taken place in Syria over the past several years and continues to ravage the country’s ancient sites. As reported in the July/August issue of The Art Newspaper, recently published satellite images of Dura-Europos reveal the dramatic scale of looting at the Hellenistic site, near the Iraqi border, between June 2012 and April 2014. The images show hundreds of holes made by looters searching for artifacts. 
More here

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