Category Archives: Heritage

Gurlitt trove eludes restitution efforts owing to unresolved provenance questions

Posted on: July 1, 2020 by Stephanie Drawdy

The full story of the billion-dollar art collection gathered by Nazi art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt during World War II may never be told. After years spent trying to determine the collection’s history, the prior owners of a large majority of those works remain unknown. This is a story we have followed with interest throughout its […]

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). […]

Recent report on the illicit antiquities trade receives mixed response

Posted on: June 10, 2020 by Charlotte Dunn

A UNESCO-backed research project into the illicit trade in cultural property in Germany has recently released its final report. The ‘ILLICID Project’, launched by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, aimed to increase understanding of illicit trafficking networks and financial flows linked to organised crime and terrorism. However, the findings of the final […]

Measured Relaxation of AAMD Restrictions Provides Some Flexibility for US Museums Navigating COVID Impacts

Posted on: May 29, 2020 by Megan Noh

Approximately one month ago, the Association of American Museum Directors (AAMD) announced that its Board of Trustees had passed a series of resolutions relaxing certain restrictions on its member institutions. For a 24-month period, AAMD will not sanction or censure member institutions who, for general operating expenses, draw on the following sources: Income (but not […]

Iconic Titanic Marconi telegraph subject of key judgment

Posted on: May 28, 2020 by Paul Stevenson

Readers will recall the lore surrounding Titanic’s Marconi wireless operators, Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, who, it is said, famously stayed at their post sending distress messages whilst the Atlantic Ocean lapped at their feet. There has been conflicting and contradictory information about the demise of Phillips and Bride. Bride survived but it is almost […]

“Thinking without a bannister”: reflections on the Court of Appeal ruling on the Airports National Policy Statement Designation

Posted on: May 20, 2020 by Pamela Campion

In these extraordinary times of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ascendant market-oriented ideologies of the last five decades have been placed on lock down. We are all being forced to think about the society we live in and which outcomes should be prioritised. How do we balance the health of citizens against the growth of the […]

Lessons in Collecting from the Museum of the Bible

Posted on: April 14, 2020 by Charlotte Dunn

The Museum of the Bible has been a site of continual controversy since its opening in November 2017. The issues it has faced range from alleged thefts and forgeries to the illicit trade in antiquities. More than anything else, the Museum’s difficulties have demonstrated the importance of careful provenance research before acquiring artefacts for a […]

A Round-Up of Recent Historic Environment Developments

Posted on: March 27, 2020 by Rebecca Reynolds

The fate of Stonehenge and the A303 has reared its ugly head again, or perhaps not. When the Chancellor announced the Budget on 11 March 2020 he confirmed the Government’s continued commitment to the Stonehenge scheme, saying it is “going to get it done”. However, this does not mean the scheme has been given the […]

Renewed search for one of Spain’s “greatest treasure galleons”

Posted on: February 25, 2020 by Paul Stevenson

Media reports this month claim that almost four centuries after the ill-fated galleon Nuestra Señora del Juncal (“the Juncal”), a Spanish naval vessel, sank off the Mexican coast in a storm in October 1631, researchers from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History and Spain’s National Museum of Underwater Archaeology are to undertake a 10-day […]