Tuesday 27 December 2011

Voice of San Diego on Arts Stories to Watch

Kelly Bennett , the arts editor for Voice of San Diego ('Three Arts Storylines to Watch in 2012', Voice of San Diego December 27, 2011) cover some big local arts storylines from the San Diego region in the past year and what to watch for going forward. The first two cover issues involving funding and local government support. The third is relevant to the theme of this blog:
What's in a local museum's storage vault that could possibly intersect the intriguing world of international artifact looting? [...] The dramatic nature of a 2008 investigation into an alleged smuggling ring thrust the usually under-the-radar Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park into the limelight. Though the inquiry has seemed to be just collecting dust for three years, officials told us in July the investigation's ongoing. From my July story:

The whole story bursts with intriguing tentacles, detailed in court documents and published articles in the months following the raid. It centers around artifacts found in Thailand, dating back 2,000-some years, that somehow made their way to a folk arts and crafts museum dedicated to "arts of the people" in San Diego.

Even if nothing comes from this investigation, this topic fascinates me. Museums and arts institutions are often granted deference as sacred sanctuaries honoring archaeology and culture. But museums around the world have been wrestling with questions of the legalities surrounding what had been for centuries a confusing and murky world of colonialism, cultural battles and wars between archaeologists and curators.

What else is hidden at the museums? [...] Holiday reading tip: Check out the book "Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum" about the decades-long saga related to these topics at the Getty in Los Angeles. I rounded up some other good articles to check out in this post.
Ms Bennett might care to take a look too at the interactions not only of dealers and local museums, but the doings of dealers and their private collector clients of the region.

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