Friday 16 December 2011

Sackler Gallery Cancels Controversial Exhibit of Salvaged" Artefacts from Wreck

In an unexpected move, the Smithsonian Institution’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery cancelled their planned exhibition “Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds” around some of the 63000 artefacts "salvaged" from the 1100 year-old Belitung shipwreck a traditional Arab sailing vessel sunk off Indonesia, which had aroused a considerable amount of controversy. The show had been scheduled to open at the Sackler in the spring. The move came about after consulting with an international advisory committee in Washington last week which led to the decision to instead seek permission from Indonesia to re-excavate what is left of the site and eventually build an exhibition from those findings. The controversy arose from the fact that it was clear that the recovery of the artefacts that were to be the focus of the excavation by a salvage company had not met with best archaeological practices and high scientific standards. The new plan, said Raby, would give any discoveries more scholarly context.

Jacqueline Trescott, 'Sackler Gallery cancels controversial exhibit of Tang dynasty treasures from shipwreck', Washington Post December 16, 2011.

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