Friday, 27 February 2015

Statement by British Museum on the Destruction of Objects in Mosul Museum

What goes on behind closed doors here, few
know, but when the time comes to speak out for the
portable heritage, the doors should not remain closed.
The 'encyclpaedic' British Museum apparently failed yesterday to deliver a statement about the portable antiquities destroyed in Mosul Museum and deliberate destruction of archaeological monuments of Northern Iraq to match the elegance of this one from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Speaking with great sadness on behalf of the Metropolitan, a museum whose collection proudly protects and displays the arts of ancient and Islamic Mesopotamia, we strongly condemn this act of catastrophic destruction to one of the most important museums in the Middle East. The Mosul Museum’s collection covers the entire range of civilization in the region, with outstanding sculptures from royal cities such as Nimrud, Nineveh, and Hatra in northern Iraq. This mindless attack on great art, on history, and on human understanding constitutes a tragic assault not only on the Mosul Museum, but on our universal commitment to use art to unite people and promote human understanding. Such wanton brutality must stop, before all vestiges of the ancient world are obliterated.
Even the Association of Art Museum Directors in America (jointly with the Archaeological Institute of America, Society for American Archaeology, and the American Schools of Oriental Research) managed to issue a similar statement - which sits very uneasily with their recent opposition to CCPIA MOUs attempting to deal with the problem of US dealers importing objects from places affected by 'pillage'. They, like the BM, need to get their act together.

UPDATE 27.02.15
Several hours later the BM press department stirred into action and issued a brief statement for the edification of the masses, just above the bit about them lending Greece's Parthenon marble bit to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin:
The British Museum is very concerned to see the reports that militants have destroyed items in the Mosul Museum and sculptures in the Nergal Gate Museum on the edge of Nineveh. We naturally deplore all such acts of vandalism and destruction of cultural heritage, and continue to monitor the situation to the best of our ability. In the absence of further information it is difficult to verify the details of those objects featured in the footage. We can confirm that none of the objects featured in this video are copies of originals at the British Museum.
Well, of course they did not deign to look that closely, that would entail engaging with the heritage debate, blogger Chris Jones showed that among the objects destroyed in Mosul were casts of items in the BM. How "mischievous".

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