SAVING THE ART - Christmas 2015

1. PARIS France Proposes Safe Harbor for Syrian Antiquities. November 19, 2015. French President Francois Hollande proposed bringing Syrian antiquities to France for safekeeping, in an address to delegates at the 38th UNESCO Conference in Paris on November 17. Hollande’s proposal was larger in scope and in the protections offered antiquities that of the Association of Art Museum Directors’ “safe harbor” proposals issued in October 2015. ( See AAMD Issues Safe Haven Protocols for Art from Countries in Crisis, Oct. 29, 2015) Even the more modest AAMD proposal has drawn criticism from archaeological hardliners, who have misrepresented the AAMD proposal as “museum acquisition of looted goods.” Hollande spoke just a week after the violent attacks by extremists in Paris that killed 130 people. He said that the UNESCO conference was a symbol of the unity of cultures, and that it stood counter to the cowardly and despicable attacks of terrorists. He drew attention to the fact that each attack took place at a venue where people of varied cultures came together for enjoyment: a Thai restaurant, a concert by American musicians, and an international football match. France should, he said, show its commitment to liberty, creativity and the dialog of cultures. He said that the war against jihadist terror was not a war of civilizations. More.. http://committeeforculturalpolicy.org/france-proposes-safe-harbor-for-syrian-antiquities/

2. NEW YORK AAMD Issues Safe Haven Protocols for Art from Countries in Crisis October 29, 2015.The Association of Art Museum Directors’ (AAMD) newly issued Protocols For Safe Havens For Works Of Cultural Significance From Countries In Crisis urge international museum actions to protect artistic heritage at risk of loss and destruction. The AAMD protocols stress security, preservation in museum safe havens, international access, and returning objects only when it is safe to do so. The protocols thereby run counter to current US government policies, which prioritize repatriation, even to hostile regimes in countries currently in a state of war.
The Protocols begin, “Protecting works of cultural significance in danger of damage, destruction or looting as a result of war, terrorism or natural disasters is the responsibility of everyone and especially of institutions whose mission is to protect, conserve and study the artistic heritage of human kind.”
According to the AAMD, member museums can offer technical and professional help to preserve collections in countries where crises threaten the security of cultural heritage, but in situations where in situ assistance is not practical, AAMD museums and other cultural institutions outside the areas of crisis can offer safe havens to works in danger until they can be safely returned. The AAMD notes that objects might require specialized treatment or care that is unavailable nearby. Therefore museums in North America and around the world should offer to preserve and protect threatened cultural property.
The AAMD notes that providing a safe haven removes threatened works from the marketplace (legal or illegal), preserves their physical integrity, and enables essential documentation to record these works for posterity. The AAMD statement identifies the following as possible depositors of artworks for safe haven: museums and governmental entities inside countries in crisis, US government authorities who have seized works on entry to the US, and private individuals, companies, or organizations who have come into possession of artworks.
The protocols call for action to inventory and document the condition of works prior to movement, if possible; safe transportation, preferably paid by the depositor; storage comparable to that which an AAMD museum applies to works in its own collection, and conservation for works in need of immediate stabilization.
Works should be inventoried, digitally documented, and treated as loaned works typically would be. Museums should publish the documentation on their own websites, on the AAMD Object Registry, and appropriate international websites.Museums should grant scholarly access to the works as they would for objects in their own collections. With the consent of depositors, museums may exhibit works stored for safe haven and all information about them should be made available to the public, along with educational information on preserving heritage.
Finally, the AAMD notes that return of objects should take place as soon as is practicable and that objects might be returned to the depositor, the then owner, the government of the affected area, or to the government of the United States, among others. The AAMD urges compliance with all applicable law in returning objects and the avoidance of potential ownership disputes. http://committeeforculturalpolicy.org/aamd-issues-safe-haven-protocols-for-countries-in-crisis/