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June 19, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - , No comments

Opening a new classical art museum in the post-1970 Convention Era

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin,  ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Last April British business Christian Levett opened a museum to display the more than 700 pieces of art and antiquties he has purchased over the past seven years, reports Dayla Alberge for The Guardian.  The article does not refer to the collecting history of these ancient Roman, Greek and Egyptian objects. Compare this to tomorrow's opening of the Second Meeting of States Parties to the 1970 Convention, which more than 40 years ago was designed to fight against the illicit traffic of cultural property.  How are ancient artefacts marketed, sold and displayed in this post-1970 Convention era?

The Mougins Museum of Classic Art ("Musee d'art classique de Mougins") is located northeast of Cannes in the South of France.  Its website contains images of the objects but no reference to the collecting history.

Levett is the owner of the archaeology magazine Minerva.  Last November he received the Ashmolean Museum Fellowship Award in Oxford.  One of the rooms in the Ashmoleans new Egyptian galleries is named after Mr. Levett and his family.

Alberge describes Levett's Mougin collection as 'ranging from Egyptian reliefs to masterpieces by Rubens and Picasso" of 'approximately 700 works spanning 5,000 years' with such 'jewels' as 'exquisite 1st-century Roman statues of Hadrian and the empress Domitia'.

Dr. David Gill, author of the blog Looting Matters, wrote more than a year ago about the history of a Greek Apulian hydria. Dr. Gill reports that Levett/Mougins Museum of Classical Art purchased some objects from the Royal-Athena Galleries and that some of the objects were from the collection of Patricia Kluge (see Dr. Gill's comments on an article by Italian journalist Fabio Isman).

Also a year ago, PHDIVA blogger Dorothy King wrote that she understands that "the Museum has a strict policy of 20 to 25 years' provenance for lesser items and 40+ years' provenance for more important antiquities."

If any of our readers are in the South of France this summer, maybe they would report back on the ARCA blog as to whether or not the museum provides additional information to visitors about the history of the objects on display.