Halibut Hook Peabody Essex.jpg

1. SALEM - Native American Collection Goes to Peabody Essex Museum… and Back to Tribes
Native American Collection Goes to Peabody Essex Museum… and Back to Tribes    
Twenty-seven years after passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), neither the 210 year-old Andover Newton Theological School (ANTS) nor the Peabody Essex Museum, which housed the ANTS collection of 1,100 Native American artifacts for over seventy years, had cataloged the collection under NAGPRA or notified possible tribal claimants.
According to Peabody Essex director, Dan Monroe, when he heard that the theological school’s board had voted to withdraw eighty items from the museum and sell them, he stepped up to begin the compliance process by notifying hundreds of tribes across the country about the collection. Before that time, according to Monroe, who previously served two terms on the NAGPRA Review Committee, the Peabody Essex Museum had not acted because it did not own the collection, but only stored it for ANTS. ANTS announced in September that they would transfer ownership of their entire collection to the Peabody Essex museum, which will continue the NAGPRA repatriation process.
Halibut Hook with Wolf Spirit, at.óow (sacred property) of the Tlingit Kaagwaantaan clan, now being held at the Peabody Essex Museum. From the early half of the 19th century. The Andover Newton collection at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. Credit Peabody Essex Museum, Deposit of the Andover Newton Theological School, 1976. TOP: A Native American doll from an Alaskan tribe. Credit Peabody Essex Museum, Deposit of the Andover Newton Theological School, 1976
ANTS had earlier sought to make the sale and to find a different repository for the remaining collection due to its financial troubles. With enrollment declining in recent years, ANTS made a decision to sell its Massachusetts campus and to join with a larger institution in 2015. It finally  joined with Yale Divinity school in July 2017. Trapped by a funding deficit and facing multiple challenges, ANTS looked to its collection of Native American art as a possible source of revenue. In 2015 its board made a decision to sell select pieces from the collection and notified the Peabody Essex Museum. ANTS had assumed it fell under a NAGPRA exemption for religious institutions. But the proposed sale of a portion of its collection of Native American artifacts in 2015 prompted a deeper investigation into its responsibilities under NAGPRA. It was determined that because ANTS accepts federal funding through financial aid for student tuition, it is not actually exempt from NAGPRA. Yale Divinity School declined to house the collection, stating that the matter was “sensitive.”
The US Department of the Interior notified ANTS, which immediately halted the sale. After a second letter from The Department of the Interior, it began the process of inventorying their collection and contacting the tribes about repatriation of ceremonial and funerary objects.
Halibut crest on a Tlingit community house in Saxman, Alaska, on Revillagigedo Island, Tongass Narrows. Built about 1889. Photograph American Museum of Natural History.
Among the items in the ANTS collection are a number of objects thought to be sacred to various tribal communities. Two requests for repatriation were issued in prior years. One request in 2009 was by the Onondaga Nation for the return of a wampum belt, and another return request was made by Donovin Sprague, an archivist for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, for a lock of hair from one of the tribe’s chiefs. The claim for the lock of hair has not been resolved, although human remains are usually considered clear-cut cases for repatriation.
Perhaps the most notable piece is a Tlingit “fishhook” that caught the attention of Sealaska Heritage Institute director, Tlingit tribal member, and former chair of the NAGPRA Review Committee, Rosita Worl. Worl has been highly critical of what she saw as ANTS’ delay in repatriation. She took direct action to demand an investigation of the theological school’s failure to act under NAGPRA. But, ANTS says, “we are a school, not a museum, and so we are not equipped to properly care for and display the collection.”
ANTS has claimed that its alumni donated the objects in its Native American collection after items were acquired by individuals doing missionary work in tribal lands across the United States. However, Indian Country Media Network’s Frank Hopper suggests that the majority of the collection was originally accumulated by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), known for “opening a number of boarding schools across the country in which Native students were taught to give up their Native culture and religious beliefs.” Hopper suggests that it was through the acculturation process that the pieces later found their way into the ANTS collection.
In the late 1940’s ANTS had transferred the care of the collection, but not its ownership, to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The museum’s Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO, Bill Monroe estimated that the museum has spent over $700,000 conserving the collection. Monroe has been director of the museum since 1993.
In 1990 the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was passed to “address the rights of lineal descendants, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations to Native American cultural items, including human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony.” NAGPRA, 25 U.S.C.A. §§ 3001–3013, is a civil law enacted as a means of recognizing Native American interests in human remains and cultural objects found on federal lands, held by the federal government or by institutions that receive federal funding.  Repatriations under NAGPRA are intended to correct past abuses of Native American and Native Hawaiian ownership rights and to provide for the repatriation of culturally significant items. (A second US statute, 18 U.S.C.A. § 1170, makes trafficking in Native American human remains and cultural items obtained in violation of NAGPRA a criminal offense.) Museums and schools that receive federal funding are required to inventory Native American and Native Hawaiian objects in their possession, and to give notice to potential tribal claimants.
Almost three decades after passage of NAGPRA, dealers, collectors and museums are still trying to balance collectors’ rights, public interest in access, and tribal claims. The process remains challenging, in large part because of funding shortfalls and lack of a standardized procedure among museums. Concerns also remain because tribes often see what is sacred and ceremonial as proprietary knowledge and because perspectives on what should be considered sacred may change over time.

Mali Cultural property.jpg

On September 19, the State Department announced a 5-year extension of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government of Mali. The MOU prohibits the importation of virtually all ancient art from that country – and the accompanying Mali Designated List expands the scope of earlier MOUs to include a block on imports of manuscripts dating from the 12th to the 20th century as “ethnological materials.” In renewing and expanding the MOU with Mali, for the fourth time since 2002, the Department of State has cut off US museums and cultural institutions, as well as private collectors and individuals who share a Malian heritage, from acquiring art or artifacts from that country. And it has signed these four agreements, cutting off access for a total of 20 years, without once meeting the required criteria under the Cultural Property Implementation Act (CPIA).
There is no question that the ancient manuscripts of Timbuku deserve to be preserved, and that the libraries of Timbuktu are the proper place for them. Not only the art world, but the world in general knows this. There have been multiple virtual and photographic exhibitions about the extraordinary libraries of Timbuktu in the US and Europe, and many dozens of headline news articles describing the brutal destruction of Muslim shrines by extremists in Timbuktu and the heroic efforts by the city’s traditional hereditary librarians to safeguard the thousands of ancient manuscripts under their care.
But it was neither necessary nor lawful to impose import restrictions on these manuscripts when there is no evidence that a single manuscript has been brought to the US for sale and the other circumstances that call for an agreement under the Cultural Property Implementation Act are not met. Why pass a law against something that is not happening and is not likely to happen?
The Cultural Property Implementation Act works in two ways. It makes trade in art and artifacts stolen from the inventory of an institution, museum, church, or library illegal without the necessity of imposing any trade restrictions. Second, it allows the US to impose trade restriction in certain limited situations.
A MOU can only be signed if there is current looting taking place in Mali of the types of objects on the proposed list of items restricted from import, AND if the government of Mali is working to protect archaeological sites, AND if the US is a primary market nation for art recently looted from Mali, AND if there will be a substantial benefit to Mali if the US market for the items restricted from import is stopped. (If the US is not a primary market for the items listed, then there will be no substantial benefit from imposing import restrictions.)
Finally, there must be no less drastic remedy than cutting off all imports to ameliorate the problem of looting, and signing an agreement to prohibit imports must be “in the general interest of the international community in the interchange of cultural property.”
In order to meet the legal requirements of the statute, ALL the criteria above must be met. There is no evidence showing this is true.



US Withdraws from UNESCO    
Since the Department of State announcement of the United States’ withdrawal from UNESCO, CCP has received several inquiries regarding the effect of the withdrawal on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) and any requests from UNESCO member-nations. Others have wanted to know if the withdrawal would impact other US laws. The answer to both questions is “no,” it will have no effect.
The US cited anti-Israeli bias at UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – and the need for “fundamental reform” of the organization in its October 12, 2017 notification to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. The US has mounting arrears in its dues of close to $550 million. The withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018, more than a year from now. The US is seeking to “remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state in order to contribute to U.S. views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education.”


1.  KANSAS CITY, MO.- The groundbreaking exhibition Through the Eyes of Picasso explores Pablo Picasso’s life-long fascination with African and Oceanic art, uniting his paintings and sculpture with art that had a seminal impact on his own creative exploration. The exhibition opens Oct. 20 at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, the only United States venue in a limited tour. Many works in the exhibition are on view in America for the first time.
“From his initial encounter with African art in 1907, Picasso’s view of the world was fundamentally altered,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “He became an avid collector of non-western art and lived with these masterpieces throughout his entire life in his studios. They were a constant source of exploration and inspiration, which manifested itself in the reinvention of his work throughout his career. As a result of that influence, modern art was radically transformed.”
The exhibition features 170 works of art, including more than 60 paintings, sculptures, and ceramics by Picasso alongside more than 20 works of African and Oceanic art that were part of his personal collection – pieces that he collected, lived with and kept with him in his studios, many of them featured for the first time in the Americas. Through the Eyes of Picasso also showcases the works of art – African, Oceanic, and American – that transformed his artistic vision when he encountered them at the Musée d’ Ethnographie du Trocadéro (now in the collections of the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris) during the early part of the 20th century. For Picasso, the power of these masks and sculptures was in the artists’ exploration of line, abstraction of the human body, and its constant transformation.
Through the Eyes of Picasso also features a selection of intimate, personal photographs of the artist at work and play, including images by David Douglas Duncan. The Duncan images were a recent gift to the Nelson-Atkins.
The exhibition was curated by Yves Le Fur of Quai Branly, in partnership with Musée national Picasso-Paris. Zugazagoitia is organized and adapted Through the Eyes of Picasso for the Nelson-Atkins. The exhibition is on view at the Nelson-Atkins from Oct. 20 to April 8, 2018, and in Montreal from May 7 to Sept. 16, 2018.
“Organizing this exhibition with Musée du Quai Branly allows us to see many of the masterpieces that Picasso saw as a young artist,” Zugazagoitia said. “Virtually all the works in the show come from our collaboration with Quai Branly, the Musée national Picasso-Paris, and Picasso family members.”
Picasso was a gifted artist who, as a child prodigy, mastered representation in the classic sense. While he did not formally study the African, Oceanic or American cultures, his encounters with nonwestern art influenced him tremendously and allowed him to free himself from western traditions and reinvent modern art, despite the fact that he never left Europe.
“He was working inside the tension that existed between the Classicism in which he was trained as a child and the abstraction and directness he saw in African art,” said Zugazagoitia. “He was seeking the ‘essence’ of art, which he felt in the iconic status of those works. Seeing his art side by side with the richness and complexities of African art will be a revelatory moment for our visitors.”