Showing posts with label NYTimes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NYTimes. Show all posts

June 13, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - ,, No comments

The New York Times' Randy Kennedy Reports on how austerity measures in Greece is affecting state archaeologists and the country's heritage

Minoan Marine Style Pottery/NMAA
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Turkish journalist Özgen Açar sent out a link to June 11 article in the New York Times, "Archaeologists Say Greece Threatened by Austerity".  When the man who tracked down the stolen Lydian Hoard from Turkey to New York City sends out an email, I pay attention, very close attention.

Açar is pointing out an article written by Randy Kennedy that shows how more than a 10% reduction in Greece's state archaeologists is limiting access to artifacts in museums and reducing the country's ability to protect its cultural heritage.  The Association for Greek Archaeologists has created a television commercial to create public awareness.

In Kennedy's article, Minoan vases are being washed away and bulldozers are paving roads to ancient sites while fewer archaeologists can respond to the problems of securing Greece's culture and history.

The Artemision Bronze/NMAA
Many schoolchildren must be disappointed to have access limited to the symbols of Greek mythology as bestselling books such as those by Rick Riordan have reignited popular reading about the gods and the humans who interact with them. Aren't we trying to encourage the younger generation to take an interest in cultural institutions? My 12-year-old daughter volunteered to spend the day at Istanbul's Archaeology Museum and walked through all the exhibits looking for Greek and Roman gods -- only to find out that that section was closed for renovation last winter.

YouTube has a 14-minute video which is a walking tour through the National Archaeology Museum of Athens, including a view of the impressive 2,500 year old Artemision Bronze.

What happens when a source country of ancient objects cannot protect its patrimony and needs funds? What would you do living and working in a country with 21% unemployment? You might not loot antiquities but would someone more desperate with family obligations or someone less scrupulous be able to resist the temptation of taking one of the many pieces that just lie underneath the dirt?

July 23, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009 - ,, No comments

ARCA Postgraduate Program in The New York Times

ARCA is pleased to draw your attention to an excellent feature article in The New York Times (Wednesday, 22 July 2009) on ARCA's Postgraduate Program in the Study of Art Crime and Cultural Property Protection.

We at ARCA would like to clarify a few points raised by the article.

Among the speakers at the ARCA Conference this July 11 was a judge from New Zealand named Arthur Tompkins (not Ngarino Ellis, as listed in the article).

We wish to emphasize that ARCA is a non-profit, and the tuition for the Program goes exclusively to covering expenses. The tuition is on the low end for a similar European master-level programs, and the short, intensive nature of the program means that the total expenditure for all students is a fraction of the cost incurred by 9 or 12-month long postgraduate programs, when one calculates the living expenses for the year and the income lost by professionals who would need to take a year off of work. ARCA's ultimate goal is to run the Program, like its other activities, free of charge--but this target can only be reached if ARCA receives financial support through philanthropy and grants in the future. Further the Director of ARCA receives no monetary compensation for his work as Director.

Finally, the journalist inadvertently raised an excellent point about the lack of solid, comprehensive empirical data and statistics about art crime worldwide, when she mentioned that Interpol could not corroborate the statistics about art crime mentioned by various scholars at the ARCA Conference and discussed in ARCA's book, Art & Crime.

One of the greatest issues in art crime today is the lack of sufficient empirical data to back up experiential and anecdotal information provided by professionals in the field of art protection, the art trade, and policing. This is a point that we stress repeatedly in our book, Art & Crime, and in interviews with and lectures by ARCA staff. Based on discussions with prominent members of international police squads (including the Carabinieri, FBI, the Dutch Politie, the Slovene Policia, the Spanish Policia, Scotland Yard, and many more), art criminals, members of the art trade, museum security directors, archaeologists, art lawyers, and more, scholars such as those associated with ARCA have developed an understanding of the extent and impact of art crime that preceeds the availability of sufficiently extensive data to prove the widely-agreed upon speculation. Prominent informed sources have regularly listed illict art and antiquities as the third highest-grossing criminal trade (as in tradeable commodity) worldwide over the past forty years, behind only drugs and arms. This is a fair indication of the severity of art crime, and the involvement in art crime of organized crime groups, and the use of illicit art and antiquities to fund terrorist activities, are widely known. However the statistics have never been complete enough to draw the serious attention of most of the world's governments.

One problem has been the lack of data kept by police around the world. Most police are told to file stolen art along with general stolen property. This means that many art crimes go unreported by the police, as the theft of a Rembrandt is not filed in a manner distinct from the theft of a Buick or a DVD player. As a result, art crimes reported to the police are often lost, misfiled, and never reported to larger national police agencies, and therefore never reported to Interpol. But this issue is made more difficult by the fact that many art crimes go unreported by the victims. Museums and galleries may be loath to admit their own security failures, while private collectors may not have declared ownership of some objects in their collection, in order to avoid luxury tax. The result is that only a fraction of art crimes are reported and, as mentioned, those that are reported are likely as not to be filed in a way that makes it difficult to sort out art crime from general property theft. The looting of antiquities is another difficult component. Antiquities tend to be looted from remote sites, jungle tombs or coastal shipwrecks, that may go undiscovered for months or years, if someone comes across them at all. Even if an illegal excavation site is discovered, there will be no record of what was at the site to begin with, if the site was never before excavated. Therefore police may learn that a tomb has been opened, but have no idea what to look for, because the contents are known only to the thieves.

Police are too often unaware of the severity and nature of art crime for the very reason that good analyses of art crime are rare, due to the poor data available, which is itself caused by inadequate filing systems. The problem then becomes cyclical: with so little data available, professionals continue dismissing art crime as a trifling, and occasional misdemeanour, making good news stories and thrillers, involving the collectibles of the wealthy, whose affluence protects them from real misfortune. One of the goals of ARCA is to take a step outside of that cycle, by informing police and the art world about art crime, explaining how it functions, and why it is necessary to take it seriously.

This briefly illustrates the uphill hike that the united front of academics and art, police, and security professionals face in order to establish and develop this new field of the interdisciplinary and practical study of art crime. For more information and extensive discussions of this, please see Art & Crime (Praeger 2009).

February 25, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 - , No comments

Iraq's National Museum resumes limited operations

The National Museum in Baghdad officially reopened, as a “working institution,” but it is not yet open to the public. Security risks loom large; armed guards patrol the roofs and survey the grounds from machine gun nests; more valuable objects remain vaulted away.

Check out the NYTimes video. There’s some amazing ancient statues, and it's a good feeling to see one of the greatest and oldest collections in the world on display again, despite the ongoing issues.