Monday, June 19, 2006


The Getty's Secret Census of Its Antiquities Trove

I recently suggested that museums should consider undertaking detailed reviews of their antiquities holdings, to identify and publish lists of works with murky provenance. Well, it looks like the Getty took care of the first half---identify---but forgot the second half---publish.

An article
in yesterday's LA Times reported that the Getty Trust's "internal review" of its collection "found that 350 Greek, Roman and Etruscan artifacts in its museum's prized antiquities collection were purchased from dealers identified by foreign authorities as being suspected or convicted of dealing in looted artifacts."

But despite Michael Brand's assertions that his ascendancy to the directorship of the museum will be distinguished by a new transparency, the museum has thus far refused to discuss the review, let alone release any of its findings.

Ron Hartwig, vice president for communications, told me today that it would "not help to go into detail" about which works had dicey histories, when the museum is "in sensitive discussions with the Italians."

But those discussions, resuming this week in Rome, just got a lot more sensitive, when Maurizio Fiorilli, lead negotiator for the Italian Ministry of Culture, complained that he had not been told about the new findings, according to the the LA Times' account.

"We want to be open, transparent and communicative about these issues," Hartwig asserted. In that case, the museum had better start telling its own story in a press release, instead of letting the well-connected LA Times do it in an exposé.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?