Museum Security Network

Category: Dr. Kwame Opoku writings about looted cultural objects

Kwame Opoku – DOES HISTORY SUFFER WHEN CULTURAL ARTEFACTS ARE RETURNED?

This is a question that may surprise many and indeed many may consider it wiser to leave unanswered rather than hazard untenable answers.  Michael Kaput has some views on this issue which he expresses in an article entitled, “Whose Heritage? Repatriating ancient treasures seems like a noble cause, but history might end up the loser.”…

Kwame Opoku – DEMOCRATIZATION THROUGH VANDALISM: NEW ANSWER TO DEMANDS FOR RESTITUTION OF CULTURAL ARTEFACTS?

“You must understand what the Parthenon Marbles mean to us. They are our pride. They are our sacrifices. They are the supreme symbol of nobility. They are a tribute to democratic philosophy. They are our aspiration and our name. They are the essence of Greekness”. Melina Mercouri (1) After a long period of studying the…

Kwame Opoku – BARBIER-MUELLER MUSEUM SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH TANZANIA TO RETURN STOLEN MAKONDE MASK

We reproduce below an ICOM Press Release on an agreement signed on 10 May 2010 between Tanzania and the Geneva Museum Barbier-Mueller on the return of a Makonde mask which had been stolen from the National Museum of Tanzania in Dar Es Salaam in 1984. Readers should not be misled by the title of the…

Kwame Opoku – REFLECTIONS ON THE CAIRO CONFERENCE ON RESTITUTION: ENCOURAGING BEGINNING

REFLECTIONS ON THE CAIRO CONFERENCE ON RESTITUTION: ENCOURAGING BEGINNING read full text at: http://www.museum-security.org/opoku_cairo_conference.htm The Conference on International Cooperation for the Protection and Repatriation of Cultural Heritage, 7-8 April 2010, Cairo, Egypt, ended with demands for the return of certain cultural artefacts which had been looted or stolen by colonial powers in the past. (2) The conference…

ILE-IFE TRIUMPHS IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM, LONDON: WHO SAID NIGERIANS WERE INCAPABLE OF LOOKING AFTER THEIR CULTURAL ARTEFACTS?

By all standards, the current exhibition in the British Museum entitled, Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures from West Africa, is outstanding. (2)  This has been acknowledged by most critics and commentators. The British press is full of praises and enthusiasm. An article by Jonathan Jones, entitled, “The divine art of the Kingdom of Benin” in The…

EGYPTIAN SEASON OF ARTEFACTS RETURNS: HOPEFUL SIGN TO BE FOLLOWED BY OTHERS?

EGYPTIAN SEASON OF ARTEFACTS RETURNS: HOPEFUL SIGN TO BE FOLLOWED BY OTHERS? ”There is a moral imperative for museums around the world to return certain artefacts to the countries they came from, and we are going to identify how we can help each other to increase the pressure on the keepers of those artefacts.” Zahi…

IS THE DECLARATION ON THE VALUE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE “UNIVERSAL MUSEUMS” NOW WORTHLESS? COMMENTS ON IMPERIALIST MUSEOLOGY

IS THE DECLARATION ON THE VALUE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE “UNIVERSAL MUSEUMS” NOW WORTHLESS? COMMENTS ON IMPERIALIST MUSEOLOGY “If museums were capable of helping to devise and communicate a universal perspective on cultural values which achieves credibility and currency outside western cultural elites, they would indeed make an  invaluable contribution to global society.” Mark O’…

Kwame Opoku – A HISTORY OF THE WORLD WITH 100 LOOTED OBJECTS OF OTHERS: GLOBAL INTOXICATION?

“What few people realise is that MacGregor’s activities on behalf of the British Museum, although dressed up as a laudable didactic mission of public enlightenment and edification, are actually part of a more urgent project to protect the beleaguered edifice that is the Encyclopaedic Museum in Europe and North America.”   Tom Flynn (1) Oba…

FRANCE RETURNS LOOTED ARTEFACTS TO NIGERIA: BEGINNING OF A LONG PROCESS OR AN ISOLATED ACT?

According to a report in the Nigerian Compass reproduced below, the French Government has returned to the Nigerian Government two artefacts looted during the colonial days. This is good news. We have in various articles demonstrated the illegality, the illegitimacy and the immorality of detaining the cultural artefacts of others against their consent, whether the…

Kwame Opoku – WHERE THE ROSETTA STONE BELONGS MAY NOT BE SET IN STONE BUT IS STATED IN DOCUMENTS: ROSETTA, EGYPT.

WHERE THE ROSETTA STONE BELONGS MAY NOT BE SET IN STONE BUT IS STATED IN DOCUMENTS: ROSETTA, EGYPT. “The time has come when the British Museum should recognise the change in relative status between Britain and the rest of the world. We are no longer the imperial masters and increasingly need to build constructive working…

savingantiquities: A Closer Look at China's Intentions: Reacting to the New York Times (plus response by Dr. Kwame Opoku)

A Closer Look at China’s Intentions: Reacting to the New York Times On December 17th, the New York Times published an article regarding China’s ongoing international mission to survey and examine Chinese antiquities taken from Beijing’s Old Summer Palace (or Yuanmingyuan 圓明園) that are currently house in museums and private collections in Britain, the United…

Kwame Opoku – RETURN OF THE ROSETTA STONE TO EGYPT: LIMITS TO THE GREED OF THE SELF-STYLED UNIVERSAL MUSEUMS.

“Generally speaking, it is clear that cultural property is most important to the people who created it or for whom it was created or whose particular identity and history is bound up with it. This cannot be compared with the scholastic or even inspirational influence on those who merely acquire such objects or materials. The…

Kwame Opoku – NEFERTITI, IDIA, TIYE AND OTHERS REVISITED: NEFERTITI IN SPLENDID ISOLATION?

NEFERTITI, IDIA, TIYE AND OTHERS REVISITED: NEFERTITI IN SPLENDID ISOLATION? “The history of the bust of Nefertiti shows very clearly how hollow it can sound when Germans and other Europeans refer to legal principles in relation to the “Third World.” Gert von Paczensky and Herbert Ganslymayr The intensive and extensive publicity surrounding the re-opening of…

Kwame Opoku – HAWASS REQUESTS RETURN OF NEFERTITI, EGYPTIAN QUEEN HELD IN BERLIN, GERMANY

We may not all agree with Zahi Hawass in many aspects of restitution but we cannot deny that the energetic Egyptian cultural activist has a perfect sense of timing and is, in many ways, a very sophisticated strategist that many countries would be well-served to possess. He first requested from the French Egyptian artefacts for…

HAWASS REQUESTS ROSETTA STONE: WILL BRITISH MUSEUM MAKE A BOLD CONCILIATORY GESTURE?

In an article entitled Egypt asks British Museum for the Rosetta Stone after Louvre victory, the British Daily Telegraph reports that soon after the Louvre has agreed to return the stolen frescoes, Zahi Hawass, the dynamic Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities has asked the British Museum for a loan of the Rosetta Stone.…

Kwame Opoku: RECOVERING NIGERIA’S TERRACOTTA

It is now five months since the issue of looted African was raised in connection with the exhibition entitled “African Terra Cotta: a Millenary Heritage”, at the Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva and brought to the attention of all concerned. (1) A group of renowned scholars alleged that many of the objects on display had been looted…

Kwame Opoku: ZAHI HAWASS STRIKES AGAIN

ZAHI HAWASS STRIKES AGAIN Whether you like Zahi Hawass or not, there is no denying that the dynamic Secretary-General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities is a serious man wholly dedicated to his work and determined to restore to Egypt the various cultural artefacts which were stolen in the heyday of Western imperialism and…

Kwame Opoku: IS ICOM BECOMING AN INSTRUMENT OF THE SO-CALLED UNIVERSAL MUSEUMS? COMMENTS ON STATEMENT BY DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF ICOM THAT PARTHENON/ELGIN MARBLES SHOULD STAY IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM

IS ICOM BECOMING AN INSTRUMENT OF THE SO-CALLED UNIVERSAL MUSEUMS? COMMENTS ON STATEMENT BY DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF ICOM THAT PARTHENON/ELGIN MARBLES SHOULD STAY IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM Those who have been following discussions on questions of restitution and preservation of cultural objects know the high esteem in which the International Council of Museums (ICOM) is held…

WOULD WESTERN MUSEUMS RETURN LOOTED OBJECTS IF NIGERIA AND OTHER AFRICAN STATES WERE RULED BY ANGELS? RESTITUTION AND CORRUPTION

 Corruption, like tango, requires two partners.  A seminal study by Peju Layiwola, dealt with the question of the cultural memory of a people whose development has been brutally interrupted and their cultural objects seized by a foreign invader. (1) In the specific case of Benin, the British seized more than 3000 artefacts during their nefarious…

Kwame Opoku: DO DIRECTORS OF “UNIVERSAL MUSEUMS” EVER LEARN FROM EXPERIENCE?

DO DIRECTORS OF “UNIVERSAL MUSEUMS” EVER LEARN FROM EXPERIENCE?  It appears legitimate to question whether the directors of “universal museums” ever learn from experience. When we read the books and articles of James Cuno, Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, Neal MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, and Philippe de Montebello, former Director of…

Kwame Opoku: THE AMAZING DIRECTOR OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM: GRATUITOUS INSULTS AS CURRENCY OF CULTURAL DIPLOMACY?

It seems there is nobody in the whole of Great Britain who can persuade the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, to refrain from making atrocious statements about cultural matters, especially about cultural objects of others which have been looted or removed under dubious circumstance and brought to the British Museum. Apart from his…

LET OTHERS LOOT FOR YOU: LOOTING OF AFRICAN ARTEFACTS FOR WESTERN MUSEUMS (Kwame Opoku)

“A famous American museum director, from a very well-known museum in New York, once wrote that he could not identify an image inserted in one of my articles (a Nok sculpture) because his museum did not have such a piece from that culture. The underlying argument, of course, is that African artefacts achieve recognizable status…

Kwame Opoku: CAN WE COMPARE DISPUTES ABOUT LOOTED ARTEFACTS WITH CHILD CUSTODY CASES?

I find the proposal to apply principles developed in child custody cases to disputes regarding the ownership of looted artefacts, very interesting but also problematic and, in the end, not feasible. (1) To compare cultural artefacts with children under any circumstances is itself very disputable. Artworks cannot be compared to children and hence from the…

Kwame Opoku: WHOSE “UNIVERSAL MUSEUM”? COMMENTS ON JAMES CUNO’S WHOSE CULTURE?

WHOSE “UNIVERSAL MUSEUM”? COMMENTS ON JAMES CUNO’S WHOSE CULTURE? “The restitution of those cultural objects which our museums and collections, directly or indirectly, possess thanks to the colonial system and are now being demanded, must also not be postponed with cheap arguments and tricks.” The editor of Whose Culture? has an astonishing way of presenting…

Kwame Opoku: THE STRANGE AND AMAZING THOUGHTS OF SIR NORMAN ROSENTHAL ON ENDING RESTITUTION OF NAZI LOOTED ART

Norman Rosenthal suggested some time ago that there should be an end to claims for restitution of Nazi-Looted art and was rightly criticized by so many others. http://www.lootedart.com Now he has given an interview in Der Spiegel in which he restates his case. http://www.spiegel His reasoning is so strange that one can hardly believe anyone…

HOW LONG MUST NIGERIA WAIT FOR THE RETURN OF SOME OF THE LOOTED BENIN ARTEFACTS?

HOW LONG MUST NIGERIA WAIT FOR THE RETURN OF SOME OF THE  LOOTED BENIN ARTEFACTS? In an interview reproduced below from the PUNCH, the Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Dr. Joe. Eboreima gives his views of the question of the restitution of stolen/looted Nigerian artefacts, especially, the Benin Bronzes which the…

REFUSAL OF INTELLECTUAL DIALOGUE: COMMENTS ON AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMES CUNO

REFUSAL OF INTELLECTUAL DIALOGUE: COMMENTS ON AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMES CUNO The latest statements by the Director of the Art Institute of Chicago in an interview entitled “Treaty on antiquities hinders access for museums” cannot be simply ignored or dismissed (1). After all, James Cuno heads one of the leading museums in the West and…

MODERNITY AND TRADITION: PEJU LAYIWOLA. Those who saw the exhibition, Benin: Kings and Rituals – Court Arts from Nigeria would be familiar with the name and writings of Peju Layiwola. She contributed a piece, “The Benin Massacre: Memories and Experience”, to the excellent catalogue of the exhibition, edited by Barbara Plankensteiner, Museum of Ethnology, Vienna.

In the interview reproduced below from the Nigerian paper, Vanguard, Dr. Layiwola speaks about her work as a teacher at the University of Lagos and as a metal caster. She also refers to the continued debate on the restitution of the Benin bronzes that were looted by the British during the invasion of Benin City…

Kwame Opoku: MINE IS MINE BUT YOURS IS OURS: COMMENTS ON A SUGGESTION TO TAKE CULTURE OUT OF CULTURAL PROPERTY

I enjoyed reading the article entitled “Yours, Mine, Ours: Taking the Culture out of Cultural Property” in Antiquities Watch and I have sympathy for some of the views expressed there. It is an interesting article and offers food for thought. However, when I started to reflect on a few of the ideas expressed therein, many…

Kwame Opoku: IS IT NOT TIME TO FULFIL VICTOR HUGO’S WISH?,COMMENTS ON CHINESE CLAIM TO LOOTED CHINESE ARTEFACTS ON SALE AT CHRISTIE’S

In looking up the background surrounding the proposed auction by Christie’s, I came across some materials which I found very interesting and would like to share with readers. One of them was the statement attributed to Charles Gordon, British soldier, the other by the French writer, Victor Hugo. There is also the offer to return…

Kwame Opoku: WHEN WILL EVERYBODY FINALLY ACCEPT THAT THE BRITISH MUSEUM IS A BRITISH INSTITUTION? COMMENTS ON A LECTURE BY NEIL MACGREGOR.

When I listened to the recent lecture by Neil MacGregor, Director, British Museum on the 250th anniversary of the museum, I was, at least at the beginning, very relieved. (1) I thought, finally we have the director of the museum, an avid apostle of the “universal museum”, who was recently made a saint by the…

Kwame Opoku: CUNO REITERATES HIS VIEWS ON OWNERSHIP AND LOCATION OF ANTIQUITIES

“Encyclopedic museums, like the British Museum or the Metropolitan Museum or the Art Institute of Chicago, serve as a force for understanding, tolerance, and the dissolution of ignorance and superstition about the world” James Cuno The recent article by James-Cuno “Where-do-the-great-treasures-of-ancient-art-belong?” clearly demonstrates his unwillingness to take into account valid criticisms of his viewpoints. (1)…

RESPONSE TO THE GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDSON OF LORD ELGIN (plus responses by Marc Fehlmann and Anthony Snodgrass)

RESPONSE TO THE GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDSON OF LORD ELGIN. Full text: http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/c470e1bfcb7a1dd8?hl=nl# Dear Dr. Opoku For quite some time I have read with interest your postings on MSN and elsewhere and closely followed the heated debate on looting, illegal trafficking and restitution since I was a graduate student in the 1990s. Your opinion as…

Thomas Gaehtgens on “Challenging the Encyclopaedic Museum – Berlin’s Museum Island” at the Art Institute of Chicago

I listened with great interest to the lecture by Thomas Gaehtgens on Challenging the Encyclopedic Museum – Berlin’s Museum Island at the Art Institute of Chicago. His performance was quite remarkable. Even though he mentioned that the Russians had taken away artworks from Germany and that this constituted a problem between the two countries, he…

RESPONSE TO JONATHAN JONES: “SHOULD ALL LOOTED ART BE RETURNED”? (Kwame Opoku)

“The public interest must surely be in upholding the rule of law, rather than promoting an international free-for-all through the unrestricted circulation of tainted works of art. Do we really wish to educate our children to have no respect for history, legality and ethical values by providing museums with the opportunity freely to exhibit stolen…

Africans need african cultural objects more than Europeans and Americans

My attention has been drawn to an interesting article entitled “Looted memorial statues returned to Kenyan family” (Text as pdf file) by Monica Udvardy and Linda Giles which appeared in SAFE (Saving Antiquities For Everyone) that demonstrates in an abundant way the above title which in a normal world would be self-evident but in the…

ZAHI HAWASS IN HIS ELEMENT: IS IT POSSIBLE NOT TO ADMIRE THIS MAN FOR HIS EFFORTS ON BEHALF OF EGYPT?

I have just seen a video report of CNN on Zahi Hawass, the famous Egyptian archaeologist as interviewed and reported by CNN’s Ben Wedeman. Once you look carefully and ponder on the activities and statements by Hawass, you simply have to conclude that the man is totally dedicated and committed to his work. His enthusiasm…

FORMAL DEMAND FOR THE RETURN OF BENIN BRONZES: WILL WESTERN MUSEUMS NOW RETURN SOME OF THE LOOTED/STOLEN BENIN ARTEFACTS?

FORMAL DEMAND FOR THE RETURN OF BENIN BRONZES: WILL WESTERN MUSEUMS NOW RETURN SOME OF THE LOOTED/STOLEN BENIN ARTEFACTS? “The restitution of those cultural objects which our museums and collections, directly or indirectly, possess thanks to the colonial system and are now being demanded, must also not be postponed with cheap arguments and tricks.” See…

DOES COLLABORATION BETWEEN NIGERIAN AND EUROPEAN /AMERICAN MUSEUMS BRING US CLOSER TO RESTITUTION OF NIGERIA’S STOLEN/LOOTED ARTS? Kwame Opoku

As readers may know, many Africans are very suspicious of collaboration with museums and institutions that have shown by their history and practice that they do not care much for the interest and feelings of Nigerians and Africans generally. In the article below by Tajudeen Sowole, a Nigerian art critic raises several issues concerning the…

WILL BRITAIN JOIN OTHER NATIONS IN RETURNING STOLEN/LOOTED ARTWORKS TO THE RIGHTFUL OWNERS?

It looks as if Britain is finally coming to the conclusion that stolen/looted cultural objects should be returned to their rightful owners. According to a report in the Telegraph, new legislation is on the way to allow the British Museum and other national museums to return artworks that were stolen/looted by the Nazis. The legislation…

DISSATISFACTION WITH LACK OF PROGRESS IN RESTITUTION OF BENIN ARTEFACTS

Who knows how great his inspiration might have been on Nigerian music had he stayed in Benin rather than be hidden in the British Museum? The lack of reaction from Western holders of Benin artefacts to the several calls by Nigerians for restitution is causing anger in many circles. The report below deals with the…

SHALL WE LEARN FROM ZAHI HAWASS ON HOW TO RECOVER STOLEN/LOOTED CULTURAL OBJECTS? (Kwame Opoku)

We may not all agree with Zahi Hawass in his style and manner of approach to the issue of restitution of stolen or looted artefacts but there is no denying that the famous Egyptologist, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt, has been extremely effective in his tasks and knows his job. This…

MORE DEMANDS FOR THE RESTITUTION OF STOLEN/LOOTED BENIN ARTEFACTS (kwame Opoku)

Hardly a day passes by without some call for the return of the stolen cultural objects of Benin. In the whole of Africa people are incensed when they hear about the unjustified invasion of Benin by the British in 1897 and above all, the looting and burning of Benin City. Most Africans cannot believe that…

TEN ESSENTIAL POINTS ON THE CONTINUED DETENTION OF THE BENIN BRONZES BY EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN MUSEUMS

The following are some of the essential points about the Benin bronzes that the reader must know and always bear in mind when reading about the looted cultural artefacts now in European and American museums. 1. Thousands of beautiful and fine Benin art objects were stolen by the British in 1897 when they illegally invaded…

IS NATIONALISM AS SUCH A DANGEROUS PHENOMENON FOR CULTURE AND STOLEN/LOOTED CULTURAL PROPERTY?

  “The charge of nationalism (whether outdated or au courant) is frequently levelled at those seeking the repatriation of cultural treasures to those nations and communities from which they were extracted. But nations have always used their own material culture as a means of constructing and expressing their national identity. There is nothing implicitly damaging…

WHEN WILL WESTERN NATIONS RETURN ETHIOPIA'S STOLEN TREASURES?

WHEN WILL WESTERN NATIONS RETURN ETHIOPIA’S STOLEN TREASURES? Probably very few countries have been so systematically and intensively deprived of their cultural objects with tremendous violence by Western European countries as Ethiopia has been. First, the British under Queen Victoria sent an army in 1868 to conquer the African country under Emperor Tewodros. The Ethiopian…

BERLIN PLEA FOR THE RETURN OF NIGERIA’S CULTURAL OBJECTS: HOW OFTEN MUST NIGERIA ASK FOR THE RETURN OF ITS STOLEN CULTURAL OBJECTS?

BERLIN PLEA FOR THE RETURN OF NIGERIA’S CULTURAL OBJECTS: HOW OFTEN MUST NIGERIA ASK FOR THE RETURN OF ITS STOLEN CULTURAL OBJECTS? Plaque showing the body of a Portuguese soldier, Benin. The upper part of the soldier is in London, British Museum, and the lower part is in Vienna, Museum für Völkerkunde. That the two…

A PLEA FOR FAIR AND EQUAL TREATMENT: COMMENTS ON AN ARTICLE BY ALAN BEHR ENTITLED “A HUMANIST PLEA FOR FREE-RANGING ANTIQUITIES”

  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…

ONCE MORE BENIN: REVIEW OF BENIN: ROYAL ARTS OF A WEST AFRICAN KINGDOM BY KATHLEEN BICKFORD BERZOCK

This book corresponds to what I think the average visitor to an exhibition needs: a short introduction to the subject-matter, with illustrations and sufficient information for the reader to understand the significance of the theme without being burdened by too many pages. read full text

BABYLON: MYTH AND TRUTH OR,SUMMIT OF THE CULTURAL PROPERTY OF OTHERS?

The objective of the current exhibition (26 June – 5 October 2008) in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin, entitled “Babylon: Myth and Truth”, is, according to the official website, “to explore the myth of Babel and the true facts surrounding the ancient city of Babylon: two worlds – one exhibition”. (1) A related Babylon exhibition has…

THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO DISTANCES ITSELF FROM CUNO'S BOOK

THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO DISTANCES ITSELF FROM THE CONTROVERSIAL BOOK OF ITS DIRECTOR, JAMES CUNO, WHO OWNS ANTIQUITY? Finally, the Art Institute of Chicago has reached the conclusion which others have been reached long time ago, that the position and the views Cuno and his followers have been propagating over a long period, are…

IS AFRICA CLOSER TO OCEANIA THAN TO EUROPE? VISIT TO AN EXHIBITION ON AFRICAN AND OCEANIAN ARTS. Kwame Opoku

* IS AFRICA CLOSER TO OCEANIA THAN TO EUROPE? VISIT TO AN EXHIBITION ON AFRICAN AND OCEANIAN ARTS. Kwame Opoku http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/073dbf7f90f3c3db?hl=en * Recuperati dai carabinieri circa 200 quadri di provenienza furtiva, 49enne tedesco denunciato http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/8290f02c0bd46244?hl=en * STATUE BOTERO RUBATE (La notte fra il 19 e il 20 ottobre scorso 2007): ARTISTA RINGRAZIA PER RITROVAMENTO http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/8bc9171b94971c0f?hl=en…

NEWS FROM NIGERIA ON THE RECOVERY OF THE STOLEN BENIN ARTEFACTS (Kwame Opoku)

* NEWS FROM NIGERIA ON THE RECOVERY OF THE STOLEN BENIN ARTEFACTS (Kwame Opoku)  http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/ca7d83b9e80c154e?hl=en * Group advocates radical measures to retrieve stolen Benin artefacts  http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/e3521d866fde6c75?hl=en * US. 2nd Suspect Sentenced for $1M Art Heist from Joel Fisher’s studio in North Troy  http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/5aaf1cc5e2c7291e?hl=en * US. Federal judge ruled the Yoffie estate is the rightful owner…

Kwame Opoku: THE RECOVERY OF STOLEN OR LOOTED AFRICAN ARTS

 According to the report below, the President of Kenya has reiterated Kenya’s demand for the return of cultural objects which were stolen from the country, especially under the colonial regime. It is remarkable that nearly some forty-eight years since many African countries regained their independence; they have still not recovered most of these looted cultural…

Kwame Opoku: Further Report from the exhibition “Benin-Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria”

The article below provides us further report on the opening of the exhibition which is now at the Art Institute of Chicago. until 21 September,2008. I was very interested to note that the Field Museum in Chicago has some 400 Benin bronzes, a fact which up to now seems to have escaped the attention of…

Panic and Panegyrics: Comments on “Songs of Praise” for the British Museum

We have had within the last few days a spate of articles (http://www.elginism.com/), all praising in fulsome language the British Museum and its director, Neil MacGregor. One article, “Is the British Museum the greatest museum on earth” written by Damien Whitworth, appeared in the Times on 12 July. Another sycophantic article, by Ben Macintyre in…

BENIN EXHIBITION IN CHICAGO: CUNO AGREES TO CONSIDER REQUEST FOR RESTITUTION OF BENIN BRONZES

As readers know, the exhibition, Benin – Kings and Rituals: Royal Arts from Nigeria, which started in Vienna, in 2007, went on to Paris and Berlin, was opened in Chicago, on 10 July and will be there until 21 September 2008. For various reasons, including the fear of litigation and judicial attempts to seize some…

Kwame Opoku: TICKETS FOR ALL TO THE “UNIVERSAL MUSEUM” BUT WITHOUT THE AFRICANS?

Ben Macintyre’s article Let’s all have tickets to the universal museum, in Timesonline, July 10, 2008, is one of those articles appearing regularly in European newspapers and Western media generally, appearing to espouse an internationalism and a universalism that, at first sight would appeal to many persons. However, on reflection, one realizes that, perhaps without…

Kwame Opoku: LOVE THE "UNIVERSAL MUSEUM" AND DESPISE THE OTHERS: COMMENT ON ARTICLE BY TRISTRAM HUNT.

When I read the article entitled “How one cultural vision has lessons for the whole world” by Tristram Hunt, in the Observer, July 6, 2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk I really did not know how to take it. Some of his panegyric statements about the British Museum and its Director shocked me whilst I thought others must have…

Kwame Opoku: LOVE THE "UNIVERSAL MUSEUM" AND DESPISE THE OTHERS: COMMENT ON ARTICLE BY TRISTRAM HUNT.

When I read the article entitled “How one cultural vision has lessons for the whole world” by Tristram Hunt, in the Observer, July 6, 2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk I really did not know how to take it. Some of his panegyric statements about the British Museum and its Director shocked me whilst I thought others must have…

Kwame Opoku: ARE THE EGYPTIANS SHOWING THE WAY TO THE REST OF THE AFRICAN STATES IN THE RECOVERY OF STOLEN CULTURAL OBJECTS?

From the information we have so far at our disposal, it seems the Egyptians are the most advanced among the Africans when it comes to the question of recovery of stolen or illegally exported cultural items. They seem in any case to be the best organized and the most active in pursuing this objective no…

EVEN THE FRIENDS OF AFRICA CANNOT ENTIRELY AVOID THE PREJUDICES EMBEDDED IN EUROPEAN CULTURE ABOUT AFRICA AND AFRICANS: REVIEW OF

For sometime now, I have refused to buy any introductory or general book on African art since I have a roblem of space for my books and sometimes cannot find a book I need for lack of order. However, when I saw the cover of Afrika: Kunst und Architektur (1), I was struck by the…

IS JAMES CUNO A “NATIONALIST RETENTIONIST”?

James Cuno, Director, Art Institute of Chicago, has become known for his constant attacks on those he terms “nationalist retentionists” and who, according to him, pretend to be successors to ancient civilizations and inheritors of their cultural objects with which they have no real connections except that these objects happen to be within the territories…

DO PRESENT-DAY EGYPTIANS EAT THE SAME FOOD AS TUTHANKHAMUN? REVIEW OF JAMES CUNO’S WHO OWNS ANTIQUITY?

In order to deny States the right to control excavations on their land and to prevent them from claiming ownership of artefacts found in their countries, James Cuno, Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, in his new book, Who owns antiquity? Museums and the battle over our ancient heritage, goes so far as to…

BENIN TO CHICAGO: IN THE UNIVERSAL MUSEUM?

“And I am left thinking that the “Enlightenment principles on which public museums in the United States were established” have perhaps contributed to the irreversible destruction of our universal, or cosmopolitan, cultural heritage”. David Gill, Collecting Antiquities and Enlightenment Principles   …The exhibition, Benin: Kings and Rituals Court Arts from Nigeria, goes to the Art…

ONCE IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM, ALWAYS IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM: IS THE DE-ACCESSION POLICY OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM A FARCE?

Normally, in cases of claims for stolen property or illegally detained objects, it is sufficient for the owner to establish beyond reasonable doubt that he is the rightful owner of the object in dispute and that the present holder of the object has no lawful right to the object. The present holder of the object…

WHY DO EUROPEANS, EVEN INTELLECTUALS, HAVE DIFFICULTY IN CONTEMPLATING THE RESTITUTION OF STOLEN AFRICAN CULTURAL OBJECTS? WOLF LEPENIES AND THE ETHNOLOGY MUSEUM, BERLIN.

Universal culture can only be achieved when all cultures are able and free to make their contribution but this cannot be done when the guardians of one culture hijack the masterpieces of another culture. (Picture: Mask pwo or mwana pwo, Chokwe, Angola. Ethnology Museum, Berlin.) In a recent article in a leading German newspaper, Abschied…

Ex Africa semper aliquid novi (Tom Flynn's contribution to the Kwame Opoku versus Philippe de Montebello discussion)

To follow all links in the text below: http://tom-flynn.blogspot.com/ A couple of weeks ago, Dr Kwame Opoku of African culture website Afrikanet wrote an open letter to European and North American museum directors, posing the question, Is legality a viable concept for European and American museum directors? In recent months, Dr Opoku has become one…

DOES THE DEMAND FOR THE RESTITUTION OF STOLEN AFRICAN CULTURAL OBJECTS CONSTITUTE AN OBSTACLE TO THE DISSEMINATION OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT AFRICAN ARTS? COMMENTS ON A LETTER FROM PHILIPPE DE MONTEBELLO, DIRECTOR, THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NEW YORK.

Reference is made to the letter from Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1), New York, which was published in AFRIKANET on Friday, 18 April, 2008. http://www.afrikanet.info/. In his letter, Philippe de Montebello refers to my article entitled “Is Legality still a viable concept for European and American Museum Directors?” http://www.afrikanet.info/index.…

IS THE ABSENCE OF A FORMAL DEMAND FOR RESTITUTION A GROUND FOR NON-RESTITUTION?

“The restitution of those cultural objects which our museums and collections, directly or indirectly, possess thanks to the colonial system and are now being demanded, must also not be postponed with cheap arguments and tricks.”   Gert v. Paczensky and Herbert Ganslmayr, Nofretete will nach Hause. (1)  

Lions do not change overnight: WILL THE BRITISH MUSEUM EVER MODIFY ITS CLAIM TO BE UNQUESTIONABLE LEGAL OWNER OF THE PARTHENON (ELGIN) MARBLES AND ALL OTHER STOLEN ITEMS IN THE MUSEUM?

For those who are hoping that the British Museum may reconsider its position on the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles and adopt a position closer to the views of the United Nations and UNESCO and thereby contribute towards an acceptable solution to this decades-long dispute on the Parthenon Marbles, the statement issued by the British Museum almost a…

BRITISH MUSEUM DIRECTOR AVOIDS AFRICANS REQUESTING TO DISCUSS RESTITUTION OF STOLEN AFRICAN OBJECTS

It is becoming increasingly clear that many of the European museum directors are not very convinced of the soundness of the arguments they present in favour of the retention of stolen African cultural objects by their museums. We have shown the illegality, illegitimacy and immorality of the continued holding of thousands of African cultural objects…

IS LEGALITY STILL A VIABLE CONCEPT FOR EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN MUSEUM DIRECTORS?

 We are reading almost on a daily basis some comment or reply by a European or an American museum director in defence of the holding of stolen cultural objects or objects illegally exported from other countries and now in their museums. However, these defences seem so patently weak or unconvincing that one wonders how people…

BENIN IN BERLIN: A SUCCESSFUL RECONCILIATION OF THE AESTHETIC AND THE ETHNOLOGICAL

The exhibition, BENIN, 600 YEARS OF COURTLY ART FROM NIGERIA, Museum of Ethnology, Berlin, 7 February 2008-25 May 2008, has demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt that there are no unbridgeable obstacles to presenting an exhibition which fulfils the demands of a good ethnological presentation of art works and artefacts and also takes into account modern…

Dr. Kwame Opoku – WHY DO EUROPEAN MUSEUMS HAVE SO MUCH TROUBLE WITH AFRICAN BONES?

“The contested human remains in Western museums were collected at a time of gross inequality of power. A power that we now recognise was terribly abused at the expense of the indigenous peoples. We now have the opportunity to redress that historic imbalance acknowledging that this may well entail a loss to science that will…

BENIN AND OTHER AFRICAN ART WORKS TO BE DECLARED UNIVERSAL/WORLD HERITAGE? (Kwame Opoku)

  “Reparations, then, as a structure of memory and critique, may be regarded as a necessity for the credibility of Eurocentric historicism, and a corrective for its exclusionist worldview”.      Wole Soyinka, The Burden of Memory, the Muse of Forgiveness, p.39, Oxford University Press, 1999.

HOLDERS OF ILLEGAL CULTURAL OBJECTS ALARMED BY GROWING DEMANDS FOR RESTITUTION. It is simply amazing how Eurocentric and selfish many of the arguments of the defenders of plunder and stealing of other people’s cultural property are.

From: kwame opoku [mailto:k.opoku@sil.at] Sent: dinsdag 12 februari 2008 19:41 It is simply amazing how Eurocentric and selfish many of the arguments of the defenders of plunder and stealing of other people’s cultural property are. The opponents of restitution seem completely oblivious of the interests of countries trying to secure the return of their cultural…

kwame opoku: DOES THE REQUEST FOR THE RETURN OF STOLEN ART OBJECTS CONSTITUTE A DECLARATION OF WAR?

From: kwame opoku [mailto:k.opoku@sil.at] Maybe because I come from a country which has not been noted for warfare and aggressive actions, and does not see itself as permanently involved in wars, it is somewhat difficult for me to understand the vocabulary and metaphors of war which others use as their daily vocabulary for communication on…

BENIN TO BERLIN ETHNOLOGISCHES MUSEUM: ARE BENIN BRONZES MADE IN BERLIN? The restitution of those cultural objects which our museums and collections, directly or indirectly, possess thanks to the colonial system and are now being demanded, must also not be postponed with cheap arguments and tricks

The full 45 pp article by Kwame Opoku [k.opoku@sil.at], including photographs, is available at:http://www.museumbeveiliging.com/benin_to_berlin.pdf “The restitution of those cultural objects which our museums and collections, directly or indirectly, possess thanks to the colonial system and are now being demanded, must also not be postponed with cheap arguments and tricks.”Gert v. Paczensky and Herbert Ganslmayr, Nofretete…

BANGLADESH DECIDES NOT TO LEND NATIONAL ART TREASURES TO MUSÉE GUIMET,PARIS. COULD AN AFRICAN COUNTRY DARE TO DO THE SAME? (Would the Government be bold enough to say enough is enough and terminate its collaboration with the European museum?)

The Government of Bangladesh decided on 25 December to cancel its collaboration with the Parisian Musée Guimet after the theft of two statutes of Vishnu, 1500 years old in the International Freight Zone at the Dhaka Zia International Airport.

LIVING IN A DIFFERENT WORLD: JUSTIFICATIONS FOR NON-RESTITUTION OF STOLEN CULTURAL OBJECTS

I become slightly nervous these days when I see an article or a note on the question of restitution of art signed by a European or American museum director, wondering whether we are going to read something that the normal person can understand even if he does not quite accept the argumentation or whether we…

THE LOGIC OF NON-RESTITUTION OF CULTURAL OBJECTS FROM THE MUSEE DU QUAI BRANLY.

THE LOGIC OF NON-RESTITUTION OF CULTURAL OBJECTS FROM THE MUSEE DU QUAI BRANLY: Kwame Opoku Written by Dr. Kwame Opoku Sunday, 11 November 2007 THE LOGIC OF NON-RESTITUTION OF CULTURAL OBJECTS FROM THE MUSEE DU QUAI BRANLY. I thought I had heard all the desperate arguments and explanations from European and American museum directors for…