Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Schimmel Collection

The Turkish government is currently seeking the return of 18 objects from the Ancient Near East Galleries of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (initially reported by Martin Bailey in the Art Newspaper earlier this month, now discussed in the Chasing Aphrodite blog, 'Exclusive: Turkey Seeks The Return of 18 Objects From The Metropolitan Museum of Art', Chasing Aphrodite blog, March 20, 2012.). They all come from the collection made by industrialist Norbert Schimmel. Most of the objects have no documented ownership history other than being in the Schimmel Collection by the mid 1960s or 1970s. As Felch and Fremolino note:
Turkey claims all of them were illegally excavated and smuggled out of the country after the passage of a 1906 law that gave the state ownership of its cultural property. All the contested objects are from the Norbert Schimmel Collection, which the museum has described as “the finest private assemblage of its kind in America” and “one of the most important gifts of ancient and Classical art ever presented to this museum.” Between the 1950s and his death in 1990, Schimmel was a member of the Met’s board of trustees and acquisitions committee. In 1989, he donated 102 objects from his collection to the Met. [...] The Schimmel Collection was published in a 1974 volume entitled “Ancient Art:The Norbert Schimmel Collection.” The editor of the volume was Oscar White Muscarella, a former Met curator who has been an outspoken critic of the role museums have played in the illicit antiquities trade. We’ve asked Muscarella for his thoughts on the Turkish claim and will post his response when we have it. It is interesting to note that for some reason Turkey waited 38 years after the publication of the collecting before asking for the objects back.
David Gill ('Norbert Schimmel as the model collector') notes comments by Shelby White on Norbert Schimmel and precedents for the return of items from the collection to the places they had been removed from (an eye of Amenhotep III, an Apulian dinos ). He also notes Schimmel's role in the funding of the purchase of the Morgantina hoard.
See also: Benjamin Sutton, 'More Antiquities Woes for U.S. Museums Loom, As Turkey Demands 18 Artifacts From the Metropolitan Museum', ArtInfo, march 20th 2012.

Paul Barford: Turkey Seeks Surrender of Part of the Met's Norbert Schimmel Collection Cultural Property Repatriation News and Issues.

1 comment:

kyri said...

turkey has been aggressively trying to repatriate antiquities they feel MAY have been looted.the truth is they dont know whether these pieces left turkey in 1906 or 1806.legally i dont think they have a leg to stand on and so they are resorting to threats and blackmail to get their own way.
the only piece i think should be returnd is the stone head of eros.allthough this piece has provenance prior to 1906,i think the right thing to do is return it so the sidamara sarcophagus could be complete again,after all the V&A do not even display it.
i wonder how many pieces are hidden in turkish museums,pieces looted from all over the the middle east as late as the
1920s,when they were the colonial power.i also find it amusing that a country that has been actively trying to eradicate all the remnents of hellenism from asia minor for centuries,all of a sudden are fighting tooth and nail to repatriate mainly greek antiquities from all over the world.to be honest,its about time they took an intrest in the hellenic history of their country but making demands for pieces that have been out of the country prior to 1970 without any evidence of when the piece left the country is in my opinion out of order

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