Museum Security Network

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 very nature of the subjects concerned, the comparison falters. A good judge would try to ascertain the wishes of a child at the centre of marital dispute but we surely cannot ask an art object where it would like to be, Berlin or Benin?

Custody of children cannot be compared to ownership of artefacts. Parents awarded custody of children do not own them. Children are not the property of their parents whereas artworks are the property of the owners.

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