Friday, 7 July 2017

Moss and Baden on the Bible Museum Collection - No Transparency Whatsoever

In their New York Times opinion piece, Candida Moss and Joel Baden ('Hobby Lobby’s Black-Market Buys Did Real Damage' Jul 6th 2017) discuss how the Bible Museum in Washington attempt to distance themselves from the smuggled artefacts scandal which became news again this week. 
The artifacts that were referred to were never in our collection,” said one Museum of the Bible administrator in response to yesterday’s news. But in 2015, the person who confirmed the investigation’s existence to us was not a representative of Hobby Lobby, but the president of the Museum of the Bible, Cary Summers.[...] The Museum of the Bible will contain more than just artifacts purchased by Hobby Lobby. But the core of the museum’s displays will still come from the Green family’s collection, and those artifacts come with ethical baggage. Although we can now point to a large number of items in the collection that were illicitly acquired, there remain thousands and thousands more about which we can say nothing: not because their provenance is clean, but because it is unknown. Though scholars have been pleading for years with the Greens and the Museum of the Bible to provide all of the information for all of their artifacts, there has been no transparency whatsoever. If the Museum of the Bible truly wants to distance itself from the illicit antiquities dealings of Hobby Lobby, it should make available to the public the full provenance of every item it displays, and of all those that are not visible to the public. If there are more artifacts that were purchased from the black market, they should be forfeited or repatriated—voluntarily.
I think until such a time as there is, a full explanation of how in 2009 someone was able to source so many - for the most part - previously unknown items, there should be a public boycott of the Bible Museum. Indeed, I cannot be alone in hoping that in a case of a 'museum' opening almost in teh shadow of both the Department of State and the Department of Justice, the first people through the doors are federal agents bearing warrants to close it until all the dubious 'biblical antiquities' from the Green collection on display are investigated and cleared. Given the proximity of these two buildings, anything less could be seen as a national scandal. Draining the Swamp starts here.

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