Amid the continued discussion of who should own antiquities (or even if ownership is the wrong paradigm) James Cuno, President of the Art Institute in Chicago continues to be a strong voice which cuts against the current of popular opinion.
On Sunday, Andrew Herrmann, a staff reporter for the Chicago Sun Times had an interesting article on Cuno’s views which are elaborated in his new book, Who Owns Antiquity?: Museums and the Battle Over Our Ancient Heritage. The article essentially summarizes Cuno’s views for a broader audience, with some excerpts from the book, which will be out in the US on May 28. I hope to get my hands on a copy soon, but until then here is a bit of Sunday’s article:
Today, Cuno worries that “encyclopedic” museums such as the Art Institute and the Louvre, which contain antiquities from around the planet, are endangered by nations that, simply put, want their stuff back — and don’t want any more stuff to leave their borders….
The question isn’t just the musings of a museum man. Egypt, Greece, Peru, Turkey and China are among countries pushing for the return of objects removed from their lands years ago. Italy has forced the return of dozens of pieces from American museums. Laws in host countries can now seriously restrict export of artifacts.