Category Archives: Australia

Fifty years on: the meaning of the 1970 UNESCO Convention

Posted on: June 18, 2020 by Alexander Herman

Amidst the sad turmoil (for some) and the uncertainty (for all) brought on by the pandemic and the resultant lockdown, it is perhaps more forgivable than usual to miss an important anniversary. I am referring here to the fact that 2020 marks 50 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting […]

‘Embarrassingly out of kilter’ law destroys 46,000-year-old Aboriginal sacred sites

Posted on: June 17, 2020 by Elizabeth Pearson

The destruction of 46,000-year-old sacred Aboriginal rock shelters in Western Australia has prompted a national inquiry and calls for urgent reform of Indigenous cultural heritage law. During a mine expansion project, Rio Tinto detonated explosives in the Juukan Gorge in May, destroying two deep cave sites of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People (PKKP). […]

Update on restitution: recent returns

Posted on: November 22, 2019 by Alexander Herman

After my piece last week on restitution, there have been some interesting developments in the area. First of all, a major non-profit organisation, the Open Society Foundations, has pledged US$15 million to assist groups working to restitute African heritage. The money is pledged over a period of four years. As I said when commenting on […]

Two IAL Courses Running in Australia in July

Posted on: April 4, 2019 by Kiri Cragin Folwell

We are excited to announce that the Institute of Art and Law, in collaboration with the Australasian Registrars Committee, will be running two of its most popular courses in Australia this year in July. Diploma in Law and Collections Management The five-day Diploma in Law and Collections Management course will run in Melbourne from 8 […]

Is this sovereign land? James Cook and the images of conquest

Posted on: August 10, 2018 by Alexander Herman

An exhibition entitled James Cook: The Voyages, currently on show at the British Library, gives an excellent overview of the journeys around the world taken by the famous explorer in the mid-to-late 18th century. The eponymous captain is of course known for being the first European to explore the eastern coast of Australia and, more contentiously, […]

Mossgreen Auction House: A Fall from Grace

Posted on: March 12, 2018 by Holly Woodhouse

The Australian Financial Review recently reported the collapse of Mossgreen Auction House, which has left the Australian art market reeling and industry insiders calling for reform.  The auction house is now being wound down after failed attempts to restructure the company. Founded in 2004 by British-born Paul Sumner, Mossgreen Auction House and Gallery quickly grew to […]

Two more Indian artefacts returned by Australia

Posted on: September 21, 2016 by Alexander Herman

Following on from the return of the Shiva Nataraja idol from the National Gallery of Australia in 2014, two more Indian artefacts are now set to be restituted by the same institution to their country of origin. These are the sculptures ‘Goddess Pratyangira’ and ‘Worshippers of the Buddha’, both purchased by the gallery in 2005 […]

Aboriginal bark etching returned to Australia… for now

Posted on: April 15, 2016 by Alexander Herman

Since we last reported on the matter, there have been some (potentially positive) developments on the issue of the Australian Aboriginal bark etchings in the collection of the British Museum being claimed by descendants of the Dja Dja Wurrung people who had initially made them in the mid 19th century. An article by Paul Daley in the Guardian from […]

Sydney and Auckland ARC conference recap

Posted on: April 12, 2016 by Alexander Herman

I was lucky enough to attend the Australasian Registrars Committee annual conference last month, a two-part affair taking place in Sydney on 18th March and Auckland on 21st March, in order to present a paper on museums, mass digitisation and copyright. The events were held at two stunning locations: Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art on Circular Quay between the Harbour […]

Art and Limitation Periods

Posted on: August 19, 2015 by Alexander Herman

A painting was stolen in 1991. It was a work referred to as Girl in Sunlight by Australian impressionist Rupert Bunny (see below). It was owned by James Watt from Melbourne. Watt tried to recover the painting, but there was nothing he could do. He died in 1993. In May 2010 the painting was seized by the […]