June 4, 2008

AIA Response to New Museum Acquisition Guidelines

The AIA applauds the AAMD’s revision of its Report and Guidelines on the Acquisition of Archaeological Materials and Ancient Art released on June 4. These new guidelines incorporate many principles that the AIA has long advocated. Among these are requirements that a museum publish its acquisition policy, and that information regarding any new acquisition, including both provenance background and an image, be made publicly accessible. The AAMD Report also acknowledges that museums have an obligation not to acquire antiquities in a way that will provide a direct and material incentive to looting, and that increased cooperation with countries of origin is the way to achieve both protection of archaeological sites and the continued collecting of antiquities in a responsible manner. Finally, and most importantly, the AAMD has now accepted the standard of 1970 (the date of completion of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property) as a fixed cut-off date for determining whether an undocumented work of ancient art or artifact can be acquired.

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