Four Museums in Crimea Fear Losing Hundreds of Precious Artifacts

Four Crimean museums are concerned that they could lose hundreds of precious artifacts loaned to the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, Art Daily reports. The fears follow a recent and rapid transfer of Crimea from Ukraine to Russia. The pieces were lent before the peninsula’s annexation for the exhibition “Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea.” Now, curators in both Amsterdam and Crimea are faced with a political dilemma as to who now owns the artifacts, which are technically part of the “national state fund” of Ukraine but have long been held in Crimea.

The collection spans from the second century BC to the late medieval era. It includes a gold scabbard and ceremonial Scythian helmet and a lacquered box that made its way to Crimea from China via the Silk Road in Roman times, as well as other Scythian brass works, and ceramic items. Tavrida Museum director Andrei Malgin told the Agence France-Presse that the artifacts are central to his Simferopol institution’s collection. Four of the five museums that have lent pieces for the exhibition are located on the Crimean Peninsula.

The Allard Pierson Museum is now turning to the Dutch foreign ministry for advice and is in constant communication with Kiev and Moscow in order to find an answer to the politically-laced question: when the exhibition closes in August, should the artifacts head back to Crimea, or into the collections of other institutions still part of the Ukraine?

Lydia Epp Schmidt

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