Tuesday 26 November 2013

Sicily Discriminated by Foreign Museum Loans

New York Times' Hugh Eakins seems to delight in stirring it with collectors, he phrases a lot of his articles on heritage issues in a manner guaranteed to get them all riled-up. Perhaps it sells newspapers, but does it help informing readers in general? The latest, discussing a new policy formulated in Sicily in the summer adopts such a standpoint (Hugh Eakin, 'Citing Inequity, Sicily Bans Loans of 23 Artworks', NYT November 26, 2013), and I am sure that before long, we will be hearing about this from the dealers' lobbyists opposed to restrictions on the import of dugup antiquities without the proper paperwork:
Sicily’s regional government has set a travel ban on 23 of the island’s most important artworks, a decree that says such works, many of which were recently lent to museums in the United States and elsewhere, should not circulate abroad except under extraordinary circumstances.[...] The policy shift, enacted in June but largely unnoticed outside Italy, reflects growing concerns by Sicilian officials that their most important treasures are too often out of the country, while their own museums suffer. The decree says that loans to foreign museums “have not produced benefits” for Sicily and have not occurred under “conditions of reciprocity with the borrowing institutions, which often offer in exchange works of inferior cultural value and renown.” [...] A new administration that took power in Sicily in the last year has expressed disappointment with existing loan practices[...]  “It’s perfectly understandable,” said Philippe de Montebello, the former director of the Met [...]  “Sicily doesn’t have the depth. If you take away one of these top pieces, you’ve created a big gap.”
Sergio Gelardi, the general director of Sicily’s culture administration, says that he measures to keep the most iconic works in the region is to ensure that tourists coming to the island to see such items are not disappointed many of the works reside in small regional museums that struggle to draw visitors at the best of times. Sicily’s regional government has an autonomous status within the Italian system. This means that it is free determine its own cultural policies. An additional issue created by these new measures involves loan fees:
for any works approved for loan, the Sicilian decree institutes substantial fees, calculated as a percentage of the insurance value of the work, to be paid by the borrowing institution [...] Loan fees of this sort are not unheard-of, but Italy does not charge them, and American museums that borrow from foreign institutions typically pay only for insurance and shipping.[...] Timothy Potts, the director of the Getty Museum, expressed concern about the new loan restrictions, noting that American museums have often contributed in other ways, including costly conservation work on borrowed objects, and that fees could be prohibitive for smaller museums.
Eakin sees only the US side of the argument, he suggests these measures in some way:
fly in the face of a series of restitution agreements over looted antiquities in American museum collections, including the landmark 2006 accord between the Met and the Italian culture ministry. In exchange for turning over to Italy and Sicily 21 disputed antiquities, the Met has received a series of loans from Italy “of equivalent beauty and artistic/historical significance.”
But then what (apart from surrendering artefacts they had no business acquiring in the first place) have they sent back to Sicily in exchange ? Potts is quoted as saying that it was “naïve to think that, once the restitutions had been made, there would automatically be a huge increase in loans”. I bet that's not how the ACCG et al. see it...


No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.