Bloomberg reports that the US government has announced in The Hague that it has abandoned plans to have an official panel help Jewish heirs find art looted by the Nazis (Stephanie Gruner Buckley, 'American heirs left to battle for Nazi-looted art in the courts' Quartz - November 29, 2012). In 1998, the so-called Washington Principles called for creating commissions to identify art confiscated by Nazi force and help heirs get it back.
Douglas Davidson, the US Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues announced at the conference yesterday that the plan proved “easier to describe than to realize” and there were too many obstacles including too few state-owned museums involved, and no culture ministry to which the panel could report.Why has the United States of America no ministry of culture? Seriously. Why are cultural property issues dealt with by various federal bodies tasked with other issues, such as the Department of State, the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Treasury? Does that not tell us something about US attitudes to culture in general and cultural property in particular?