Saturday, 24 January 2015

A Change in AAMD Attitudes?

Rick St. Hilaire ('Opposition to MoU's: A Change in Policy for the Association of Art Museum Directors?'  Cultural Heritage Lawyer Blog Thursday, January 22, 2015) discusses the background to the recent opposition of the US Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) to "the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) meant to retain American import barriers on endangered heritage objects from Nicaragua" being smuggled out of the country. He notes that this is the latest in a sequence of opposition to MoU's begun nine months ago in 2014.  This is because the US legislation currently in place encourages the US to attempt to interfere in the way cultural heritage is protected by the source state as though it was some kind of world policeman, rather than simply to help a state in need of help. We have seen dealers' lobbyists and US collectors exploit this, now the AAMD has joined in on their side. St Hilaire asks:
Given its opposition to bilateral agreements between the U.S. and Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Egypt, will the AAMD oppose future requests for American assistance under the CPIA? If this is the group's new policy, will all 237 members back it?  
Let us hope not. By what right do US museum directors think they have assumed the power to dictate how other sovereign states protect their cultural heritage from pillage and smuggling. It is not as if teh US is a proven success in either of those areas, with the scale of known looting of sites even on BLM land and recent attempts to stop European sales of Native American artefacts that 'somehow' have found their way overseas. Let these art museum directors look closer to home before they criticise others.

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