In an article entitled, “A Humanist Plea for Free-ranging Antiquities,” (1)
Alan Behr, a New York lawyer praises James Cuno’s book, Who Owns Antiquity? Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion but surely we must try to base our opinions on facts and also on a broader understanding of the issue we are dealing with. It seems to me that Behr has based his views on a very narrow and false understanding of the issue at the centre of the debate generated by Cuno’s book.
He seems to think the debate is between those who would allow free movement of antiquities and those who would restrict such a free movement, in the name of nationalism and cultural purity. He sees on the one hand, “the museums that, like bees ranging over a broad field, pollinate the world with the art, history and culture of its constituent regions. The Elgin Marbles were carved in Athens and the Rosetta Stone was found in Egypt, but they are now displayed at the British Museum, in London. The Pergamon Altar was built by the Greeks, removed from what is now Turkey and is on view in Berlin.” He immediately supports this side.