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June 12, 2014

Report from ARCA Amelia '14: Inside the lecture hall, Dick Ellis on art investigations and Tom Flynn on the art market; outside: students explore Narni and Amelia

by Paula Carretero, ARCA '14 Intern

Friday, June 30th marked the official start of the 2014 Graduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection, with the arrival of the students to Italy. Students managed to arrive and find their way from Rome to Amelia after navigating the occasionally chaotic Italian transport infrastructure. The bus strike going on that day for sure made it interesting for the students, but everyone arrived safely to the welcome cocktail at La Locanda del Conte Nitto , one of the restaurants in town that, friendly as always, took in all the ARCA students as a welcome to the start of the summer. Over the weekend, students started exploring the city and guided tours were organized during which some of the city’s most wonderful corners were discovered. Among them, students walked into the centro storico of the town, wandering through the medieval streets and exploring some wonderful places: such as the Duomo, the Roman cisterns, and the Teatro Sociale
"Interns in the Cisterns" by Camille Knop

Week one of classes started with Dr. Tom Flynn, a RICS-Accredited Art Market and Art Appraisal lecturer at Kingston University in London.  His course in this year's program was “The International Art Market and Associated Risk.” Though the first half of the week, students explored the history and evolution of the art market; how early collections were gathered in the Cabinets of curiosities (also known as Kunstkabinett, Kunstkammer, Wunderkammer, Cabinets of Wonder, and wonder-rooms); the mechanisms of auctions houses, dealers and collectors; and issues on the value of art. The vast experience of Dr. Flynn, and the relaxed atmosphere in class, helped in creating interesting debates that were enriched by the multiple backgrounds of students from all over the world.

Dick Ellis took over the second half of the week with the course on “Art Policing, Protection and Investigating.” The founder of Scotland Yard’s Art & Antiquities squad introduced the students to the world of art theft, covert operations, money laundering using art, and the mechanism of organized crime as well as thieves motivations to steal art. By the end of the week, students were blown away by the vast experience of Professor Ellis and his generosity in sharing his wisdom with the class.

View from the top of Narni (Photo by 
ARCA Intern Camille Knop)
After this first week full of activities, and with the students’ heads full of plenty of new and valuable knowledge, a well-deserved weekend break arrived. Some of the students, using their remaining energy, took part in a trip to Narni on Saturday, a nearby town. The students enjoyed discovering and walking around the medieval-like streets of the town and went to visit some of the most important monuments like Rocca Albornoz, a 14th century fortress that became the home of popes and cardinals. In Subterranean Narni, the guided tour included the old convent of San Domenico, ancient Roman water tanks, prison cells used during the Inquisition, and 12th century frescoes in a medieval church (here's a link to an article on archaeologist Robert Nini who discovered the former Benedictine abbey in 1979 through an entrance from an old man's garden).

The ones who stayed in Amelia did not miss the chance to explore in their own way. Some of them went to the movie club organized at Chiostro Boccarini each weekend and started getting to know and interact with the Amerini, the citizens of Amelia, to confirm that they are as friendly as their reputation says. Finally, and to help fight the hot temperatures that are starting to arrive, some of the students spent some time hanging out around the pool house and recovering energy for the upcoming weeks. Summer has just arrived and courses are just beginning, but many other adventures are yet to come.