Museum Group Offers Safe Haven for Threatened Art and Antiquities

Can the organization save threatened antiquities?

The AAMD has offered a safe haven for works belonging to museums in conflict areas. Photo: im41.com

The organization, which has 242 members across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, published a list of  protocols on Thursday offering museums around the world whose holdings are under threat from conflict or natural disasters the opportunity to transfer their holdings to any AAMD member institution for safekeeping until conditions for their safe return can be guaranteed.

AAMD president Johnetta Cole released the points on Thursday. Photo: creativity-found.org

AAMD president Johnetta Cole released the points on Thursday.
Photo: creativity-found.org

“The scale of human suffering and loss of life that is taking place in Syria and other afflicted areas is devastating, and is compounded by the loss of unique works that are the record of different cultures and our shared humanity,” Johnetta Cole AAMD president and director of the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution said in a statement.

“The level of destruction and intentional damage is deplorable and an attempt to eradicate cultural identity in tandem with the murder and repression of individuals,” she added.

According to the New York Times, under the proposal the transfer of the works would be subject to the same conditions as inter-institutional loans, thereby guaranteeing repatriation following the expiration of the agreement.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Photo: Carlos Delgado via Wikimedia Commons

The points were announced at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Wednesday and published on Thursday.
Photo: Carlos Delgado via Wikimedia Commons

A list of over a dozen points also stipulates that museums may make transferred items available for public exhibitions and scholarly research should they choose to.

“Under the Protocols, the works we will hold will not be the property of the museum. Access to the works, and exhibition of them, will be determined by the depositor,” Julian Raby, member of AAMD’s task force on archaeological materials and ancient art, and Dame Jillian Sackler director of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution explained.

AAMD member Smithsonian Institution director urged AAMD members to adopt the protocols. Photo: vimeo

AAMD member Smithsonian Institution director urged AAMD members to adopt the protocols.
Photo: vimeo

“We are committed to working with our international colleagues to address this crisis collaboratively and with the utmost urgency,” he added.

AAMD officials have reportedly urged member institutions to sign the ‘Protocols for Safe Havens for Works of Cultural Significance from Countries in Crisis.’


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