Part 3: Spring in Manhattan

The following day began at the Met, one of my favorite museums. It’s got an incredible collection but is rather overwhelming. I try to get into my head that we are only going to visit a few things because seeing the entire museum would be impossible.

Our first stop was a Seurat and circus exhibit. The exhibit featured Circus Sideshow, one of Seurat’s masterpieces, along with circus posters, other contemporary circus paintings, and sketches. It was nice to see some great circus posters from Cheret, a nice follow up to the Driehaus museum’s current exhibition. I was hoping for more of Seurat’s circus paintings since I’d had seen some really amazing works elsewhere but alas.

We then went to the rooftop garden at the Met. Every year they have an artist do some outdoor installation, which is always neat. This year’s piece was spectacular. Adrián Villar Rojas took 3D scans of pieces all over the museum, printed them, and created these sculptural collages. THey are laid out throughout the garden, some on tables, some freestanding. It’s called “The Theater of Disappearance.” I love juxtaposing things, like ancient Egyptian busts with animal parts or Ancient Greek torso. All while overlooking the beauty of Central Park and the NYC skyline. It could also be a great scavenger hunt, tracking down the pieces in the collection!

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We also visited the exhibit on ancient China featuring some incredible terracotta soldiers. Seeing them is always a treat. Someday I’ll make it to Xian to see the site! What I liked in particular about the exhibition was the sheer number of other artifacts that were included. There was a series of beautifully carved women dancing or playing instruments while another room featured animal sculptures. Wondrous!

After our brief visit to the museum, since any visit is brief at the Met, it was time to head to Broadway for a matinee of War Paint. To get there, we ended up passing by the Tax Rally (it was 4/15) and we saw some amazing puppets and signs. We had $1 pizza at a joint just off Times Square. Tasty tasty pizza.

War Paint is a musical about make up rivals, Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, and their decades long feud. It was interesting to see corporate sabotage and competition played out in a musical. I’m not sure if I loved the message of the musical (you’ll just have to see it) but it definitely had some pretty neat scenes and dances.

After the play, we decided to head to a new place for us: the Morgan Library. I had come across it a few months prior and it seemed like our cup of team. It turned out that it was JP Morgan’s library. What an astonishing collection. The main library room is breathtaking. Rows and floors of books with two secret staircases taking you to the upper floors. Also, we found some pretty neat books that make you wonder about their contents!  There were some exhibitions as well on display including works by Emily Dickinson and Symbolist poets. But the rooms themselves were well worth it. It’s a research library and it made me appreciate how awesome Chicago’s own Newberry library is. Here, it’s free to check out books etc. Morgan Library requires a hefty entry ticket.

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Dinner turned into a bit of an adventure! We had reservations to Tao, a fashionable Asian cuisine place near the hotel. When we walked in, the loud overhead music enveloped us. It was all very hip looking and made me feel a bit out of place. When we sat down to eat, we learned that there was nothing, absolutely nothing, on the menu that my mom could eat. Apparently, they premake things like steaks. :-/

So we left. We found a tiny quiet Italian place called Montebello where we were the only people at the beginning of the evening. The food was tasty, we could talk, and the staff were extremely nice. They overheard me talking about how my glass of Prosecco was such much better at their place than the place from the night before so they comped us limoncello! And there were cookies too. So go to Montebello, skip Tao.

Then more adventure!  had tried calling the number on the black card from the night before but couldn’t get through for an hour. At 5pm (an hour after they opened and I started calling), I was informed that there were only taking walk-ins; they were catering to a larger party. Boo. I found the name of a speakeasy called Bathtub Gin in Chelsea that took reservations.  Bathhouse Gin was going to be the place.

We entered through a hole in the wall coffee place, serving as the coatroom. As soon as we stepped in, the noise rose up like a wall. Loud pounding music. But we trekked on. We had a little table and ordered from their cocktail menu, which is always a hit or miss. One thing was a sure fire hit though: s’mores. It wasn’t going to be high quality chocolate or marshmallows but we couldn’t resist. They actually brought us an open brazier with Hershey’s chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows. It was amazing. We even convinced the table next to us to do it too.

Plus there was a golden bathtub that you can get into. And we totally took photos lounging in the bathtub. Because golden bathtub!

That’s all for now!

China and Cambodia: Part 13

Then the final day of our trip was upon us. We had most of the day in Phnom Penh before it was time to make our journey back home.

Our first stop was the National Museum of Cambodia. What a lovely museum! The first hall is filled with all sizes of bronzes, which is pretty impressive. Other halls have many stone sculptures of gods and goddesses from Hindu and Buddhist traditions. There’s even a little section of the courtyard with linga and yoani!  One side of the museum had more recent artifacts from the 19th century such as wooden sculptures and a caravan. One of my favorite parts of the museum was a section of contemporary Cambodian artists. I love seeing the mashup of contemporary and older art. Just beyond the contemporary art was a room filled with Buddhas, which was really great. Sadly, photos were not permitted without an extra fee (don’t ask me why I didn’t pay it. Foolish choice!)

The main section museum centered a courtyard with a Buddha statue in the middle surrounded by four lakes filled with fish. You could buy fish food from a vendor in the museum. And obviously, we did. (With all the cats, dogs, and birds of this trip, it was time to give fish a turn). We had a lot of fun wandering from pond to pond distributing tiny bits of dried food. Can’t say I’ve done that at a museum before!

Afterwards, we decided to wander the area a bit, something we hadn’t done a lot of. Around the museum, there were stores selling art, sometimes large sculptures that I wished I could have taken home. We also ended up at a market, less touristy and more everyday. It was a fascinating experience walking through the halls to see the various household goods and food on sale. Sadly, no fried crickets to redeem myself.

We took a little trip to Wat Phnom that we had seen on the first night. It was well worth the trip. It seems to have been built on a hill so there are various levels to explore as you climb up. We saw beautiful shrines filled with offerings. It was lovely. My friend paid to release sparrows back into nature from vendors at the Temple.  When we left, I bought a durian popsicle from a vendor on the street. While it wasn’t fresh durian, it was absolutely delicious. At least, I got a taste of it in this part of the world. Next time, my mission will be to get fresh durian!

We eventually found ourselves on the riverfront again for lunch. Once again, our food was amazing, fresh and incredibly cheap. I had another coconut with lunch. So tasty and refreshing. We decided to go back to the Foreign Correspondents Club for a final drink before heading to our hotel. We shared a few drinks while watching the boats float down the river. What an amazing trip.

We took a tuktuk back to the hotel to rest a bit before our midnight flight back to Shanghai. We ate the remaining candy we had from Shanghai and watched Cambodian TV. We hired a car to take us to the airport. We were a bit early so we found a series of chairs nearby and had some pastries from the Blue Pumpkin. Eventually, the gate opened, we checked our bags (giving a silent prayer that we would see our bags again), and entered the main part of the terminal. I managed to have one last coconut before our flight!

We were slightly delayed, which made me a bit nervous. We were the last plane to leave Phnom Penh that evening so there’s always the chance that they’ll cancel it. Thankfully, our flight took off. When we landed in Shanghai in about 5 in the morning, we played the eternal game of who do we trust. When we checked our bags in Phnom Penh, a sign informed us that we had to collect our bags in Shanghai and recheck them. However, when we got to the desk in Shanghai to get our boarding passes for the next leg, we were told that our bags were checked through. Shades of South Africa again. We decided to trust the Chinese official and made our way to gates. We had a final meal of dumplings at a cafe, which was pretty good for airport food.

We flew home and collected our bags without an issue.

What an amazing, exhilarating trip. Can’t wait to go back!

That’s all for now!

China and Cambodia: Part 2

The following morning, we were up super early because of the jet lag. But that was okay. We walked around some more in our neighborhood. There was a bakery where we got little baked balls of red bean and egg that was quite delicious. I am obsessed with red bean and have been since high school. I endeavoured to have as much of it as possible on this trip. And rank it!

After our morning tea and coffee, we decided to take a long walk to the Shanghai Museum. It’s one of the top museums in Shanghai; it has a very impressive collection of artifacts including bronzes, ceramics, and more. It’s free but they limit the number of visitors each day to 8000 (I think). So go early if possible to avoid disappointment. Shanghai in July is hot and sticky as we found out. But the walk was nice. We took a detour along the Bund, an area next to the riverfront called the Wall Street of Shanghai. I think it was part of the English and American concessions when Shanghai was colonized. We watched the boats in the harbor, saw the crazy buildings on the skyline.

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The Skyline

We stopped by for a cold drink at one of the many Family Marts we saw in China. The labels on the drinks were amazing and surreal. My favorite was the one with a bird living in a teacup.

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Me in label form

The Shanghai Museum is shaped like a Chinese cooking vessel called a ding. I really love that fact especially since they have several dings inside the museum! We got there when it opened but there was already a line. Thankfully it moved quickly and we were in the air conditioned embrace of the museum. We started from the top floor down. The first area we went to was the Exhibit of Ethnic Minorities in China. Yes, that’s what it is called. While we can talk a lot about the politics of such a place and some inclusions, there were some really amazing outfits and masks.

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My favorite area of the museum remains the ceramics. I came to love ceramics later in life. As a kid I found them moderately interesting. Now, I find them endlessly fascinating. My favorite era of Chinese pottery is Tang. The sculptures are so full of character and life. I love the color scheme, full of greens, yellows and oranges. One sculpture was a woman seated on a horse.

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Tang Dynasty – Female rider

We also had a fun moment with a guard. I happened to notice an interaction with a guard and another museum patron. This guy was holding a series of empty wicker baskets. Apparently, you can bring almost anything into the museum. He had just thrown them down on the floor to look at something and the guard, rightly so, yelled at him. Moments later as I was looking at something else, my friend grabbed me and said, “The guard impishly pointed a bowl. You should check it out.” I saw the bowl at hand and if you peeked into it, there were painted butterflies. Same guard. I love it.

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The Impish Guard Butterfly Bowl

We also made a turn around the Bronzes and the Sculptures, which were also wonderful. It’s a really nice collection. And yes, I saw the many dings! There’s a tea room in the museum so we had a little pit stop with tea and macarons, including a sesame one. Pretty good!

Then we decided to walk to Yuyuan Gardens. Of course, it was the hottest time of the day. The area around Yuyuan Gardens is a bit hectic, a bit unpleasant. But the gardens are a wonder. It’s like a labyrinth, little narrow walls lead you to unexpected pools and trees. It’s fun to get lost here.  We spent some time gazing out on the pond filled with koi amongst some beautiful buildings.  There’s a zig zagged bridge in the middle; there’s a belief that ghosts can only walk in straight lines so they can’t walk on a zig zagged bridge.

When we left the peaceful confines of the garden, we eventually found ourselves back in the hubbub around the gardens. We decided to get a snack at a dumpling place nearby. I ordered a variety of dumplings including a Hello Kitty inspired dumpling. Inside was custard. I also had a dumpling that was kinda like baklava, nutty and sweet. The red bean dumpling was okay. Alas!

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Hello Kitty Dumplings

We ended up meeting family for dinner near the hotel at a mega mall at a stir fry place. It’s a bit like Benihana where the chef cooks it all at the table. I had this crystal pork that was delicious (but dangerous). Dessert was a warm pancake filled with red bean paste. It was really wonderful. Can’t decide which red bean thing I liked better: the red bean egg ball in the morning or the stir fry pancake in the evening. Decisions!

After dinner, we decided to try a foot massage at a place near the hotel. I had never had a foot massage in China before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I love massages as a rule so I was very curious. I sadly was not a fan. It hurt a lot, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but my feet still hurt the following day. I feel that suggests that the foot massage was not for me. Oh well. It was worth a try!
That’s all for now!

Day 5: France and England

Before I discuss the Middle Temple and my talk on the Savoy hotel, I’m going to talk about the British Museum at little bit more.  My fiancé’s favorite part of the museum is a series of rooms that strives to give viewers a sense of what the museum may have looked like back in the day. The walls are covered in shelves with various objects and books on them. Cases have artifacts from the original collections, mostly from Sir John Sloane’s collection that was a fundamental part of the beginning collection. It’s a wonderful jumble of artifacts from all over the world and from different times. It’s so different from the other galleries that spotlight a series of artifacts, usually from the same culture. Here it is a mixture. I didn’t spend a lot of time there in the past but I really appreciate it now. I like how it talks about the items and their meaning within the culture while also talking about how the items came to the museum through Sloane, Captain Cook, etc.

Next to this gallery was a mélange of items. Many items were collected in the early history of the museum. Other objects seemed to be recent acquisitions. I was really excited to find that some sculptures from Michael Rakowitz were included. I came across his work last year in the MCA’s Way of the Shovel. The pieces were part of his “The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist” where he recreated antiquities stolen from the Baghdad Museum from product paper. I wrote about it here. It was really neat to see his work recognized by the British Museum. I think it’s a worthy acquisition for this tremendous museum.

So now I’m going to move on to the Middle Temple. I’ve talked about this previously but I’ll summarize. Middle Temple is one of four legal inns that are 100s of years old where lawyers would go to learn, socialize, and, at one point in time, live. The four inns are the Middle Temple, Inner Temple, Gray’s Inn, and Lincoln’s Inn. These four inns are the only places, I understand, where one can become a barrister in England. Each inn is a series of buildings in London that have amazing histories and traditions. Middle Temple (and Inner Temple) gets its name in part because the land was formerly owned by the Knights Templar.

We have been going to the Middle Temple Hall for decades as part of a program at our university. Students learn about the similarities and differences between the British and American legal systems. The lectures take place in one of the rooms in the Great Hall Building. This year, we were in the law library. In the stairwell of the library, there are wonderful objects like a glass display case of old artifacts from the 15th and 16th centuries. Or a copy of the US constitution with stars of signees who were Middle Templer members. Or a secret globe of the New World that was a state secret in the 15th/16th centuries.

The Great Hall is also worth mentioning; it is simply magnificent. It’s a wonderful combination of carved wood, stained glass, and double barreled ceiling. It’s where one of the first performances of a Winter’s Tale was performed. The main table on the dais is made from planks from Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hinde. And when they did reconstruction of the ceiling, they found 120 pairs of die and a coffin with a body inside of it!

As part of the program, my parents give lectures on various topics in law and history. I’ve been giving lectures on local history for the past four years. I’ve spoken about the Parthenon Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, the history of the British Museum, and this year, the Savoy Hotel. I give the students an idea about some of the wonderful institutions (and their objects) nearby the Temple area.

In this year’s lecture, I gave a history of the world famous luxury hotel: the Savoy. I won’t go into extensive detail since it has quite the history. It’s an institution that established many firsts in the world of hotels. The hotel was built out of money raised from Gilbert and Sullivan’ operettas. Richard D’Oyly Carte went into partnership with the two of them to write operettas. Eventually, they opened the Savoy theater due to the success of the shows. After that, D’Oyly Carte had the idea to open a hotel as well. He wanted to define it as a luxurious hotel and brought in many innovations, such as electricity, speaking tubes in rooms, 24 hour service…and individual bathrooms. At the time, the norm was to share bathrooms. Another luxurious hotel built at the same time had 400 rooms with 5 bathrooms. Yuck. He asked the builder to make 70 bathrooms to which the builder asked if he thought the guests were amphibious. So you can thank him for personal toilets in hotels.

The hotel was favored by royalty throughout the world, stars (opera and film), film magnates, politicians, etc. Winston Churchill was a huge fan and spent many hoursl there. He was particularly fond of Kasper, a cat statue named after a late kitchen cat. In the early 1900s, there was a dinner party where only 13 guests came; one person cancelled at the last minute. There is an old superstition that says that the first person to stand up will be killed shortly. Well, the first person at that meal to stand up ended up being shot dead a few weeks later. So the hotel decided never to allow 13 guests at the table. At first they had a staff member sit at the table but that was awkward. So they had this statute of a cat placed at the table with a napkin tied around his neck and he got his own plate for each course. Churchill loved him and insisted he be present for various meetings. Teehee.

One of my favorite stories about the hotel is during WWII. During a board meeting, a bomb hit nearby which caused the curtains to go across the room. Rupert D’Oyly Carte, the son of Richard D’Oyly Carte, coughed said, “”Gentlemen, to continue.” I just love the sprit.

So that’s just a taste of my talk.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about the Victorian and Albert Museum.

That’s all for now!

 

 

Lawsuits and Antiquities

So as some of you know, I have a fascination with antiquities and repatriation issues. In other words, I find the debate/controversy over whether ancient artifacts should be returned to their host country. Last week, there was an important decision that came down by a federal judge about Persian artifacts held at the Oriental Institute and Field Museum. The judge ruled that these artifacts could not be claimed as settlement for victims of a Hamas attack in 1997.

Here is the article in the Tribune.  The basic outline was that several people were hurt when 3 Hamas suicide bombers exploded bombs with shrapnel in a mall in Jerusalem in 1997.  The victims sued Iran who funded Hamas but when Iran failed to show up to court, the judge “awarded a default judgment of $412 million.” Unsurprisingly, the victims have not been paid. So a lawyer of the victims tried to claim the Persian artifacts as property of Iran so they could be used to pay the settlement.

I’ve been watching this claim for a while since it has incredible implications in the antiquities and repatriation debate. I’m glad that the judge ruled against the claim since I think it would be a catastrophe if the Persian tablets were divided. While the victims are certainly owned compensation for their tragic losses and injuries, this is not the way to go about it. I don’t know what is correct but this action is basically legal looting. How much would be lost if that collection were divided! The pieces need to stay together (or in two groups) with experts.

So while I’m relieved at the ruling,  it concerns me that  the Judge ruled against the plaintiff because  it was questionable if Iran actually owned these artifacts. I should note that the tablets were obtained prior to the Islamic Revolution so there are questions on who owns the artifacts. (Also, it’s an interesting fact that we have held on to them as well). Regardless, I can’t help to think what would have happened if the artifacts had belonged to Iran? Would the Judge have allowed the collection to be split up? It would be have been tragic to watch the collection disappear into private collections, lost to the sun of academia.

This lawsuit points to some unintended consequences of repatriation. I think repatriation is important and that looting is destructive to everyone. However, if a country can claim all artifacts found under its modern borders, which many do, could they be sued for these artifacts to pay back fines, back loans and more. Clearly, one lawsuit tried to make that claim. At an extreme, what if artifacts are used as loan collateral? I don’t like this one bit.

Legally, I have no idea. Maybe this argument is legally sound and that artifacts could be used to pay fines of delinquent countries one way or another. But the repercussions will hurt origin countries with their claims. It would be even more incentive for countries like the US and Britain to not return items. The old argument “It’s safer with us than it’s country of origin” would ring true in a new way. Don’t give it back because they’ll lose it in a lawsuit.

Maybe there should be a treaty that stipulates that artifacts can’t be used in this way. Maybe there already is.

That’s all for now.

Looting the Past: The Battle for Our Ancient Heritage

Wednesday evening I attended a Chicago Council on Global Affair’s event “Looting the Past: The Battle for Our Ancient Heritage.” It was a panel moderated by Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute. On the panel was James Cuno, President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust (and former head of the Art Institute), Patty Gerstenblith, Research Professor of Law, and Director, DePaul Center for Art, Museum, & Cultural Heritage Law, Richard Leventhal, Professor of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, and Executive Director, Penn Cultural Heritage Center. The event focused on looting right now and the past few decades. The panel didn’t much discuss looting/discoveries from past centuries, like the Rosetta Stone or Parthenon Marbles.

All the panelists agreed that looting is a terrible, violent act. Patty Gerstenblith summed up the harm of looting with three points. First, looting eliminates the context of the piece. Ripping it from its resting locations eliminates the information about its placement, relationship to other objects and more. There was this incredible shot of a Mayan Stelae (large stone carving) that had a small section cut off it and sold on the market. It was horrifying. Second, looting could destroy the piece. She cited examples of pieces that were repaired/touched up badly, like a mosaic piece that was held together with Krazy Glue. Third, looting complicates authenticity of objects; it’s hard to tell the difference between real artifacts and fake ones.

James Cuno has a reputation of being firmly against repatriation of artifacts. He is a big promoter of the encyclopedic museum, of which I actually subscribe to (though not to the same extreme by any means). However, he firmly believes that calls to return items, like the Parthenon marbles, is extreme nationalism, pure politics. There was some of that in his talk on Wednesday, but he was firm against present day looting. He argued that national laws (idea that anything in the ground is automatically owned by the government) and export laws didn’t help; instead countries had to develop alternative economic systems to eliminate the financial incentive to loot. He explained that museums were taking the first step in not accepting artifacts that didn’t have extensive provenance (history of ownership, how it was found, etc). However, Patty Gerstenblith, a lawyer who is an expert on cultural heritage law, disagreed with Cuno that these laws weren’t useful, instead positing that the enforcement of the laws was the issue. Not enough importance has been placed on enforcement.

And he encouraged collectors to refuse acquiring items without the proper provenance to end the demand side of the equation. But he made the provocative point about what do you do about objects already out of the ground; some have historical/cultural importance and it would be better if it were in a museum than a private collector.  Of course, his fellow panelists would say that the ends doesn’t justify the means. Museums, more than anyone, need to set an ethical example.

Richard Leventhal, Professor of Anthropology, appears on the other side of the spectrum; artifacts need to be returned to their countries of origin. Common arguments against this like lack of knowledge about country of origin are bunk; he explains that it can be figured out amongst nations. He posited the future of museums is loans, not acquisitions. Museums should borrow pieces from other countries for short or even long-term loans, instead of working to acquire pieces.  This is an interesting point in the larger context of how business is moving from goods based to service based. (For instance, a carpet manufacturer started leasing and recycling its carpets, instead of installing and then disposing of it). However, Mr. Cuno made the critical point that loans are very expensive; the Getty pays millions to get loans from around the world. Most small museums wouldn’t be able to afford these loans, including shipping costs, insurance, etc. Long term loans sound logical but many countries have so many restrictions for how long something can be out of the country, or even if it can be moved.

Professor Leventhal went on to explain how countries need to do more training and education of its own people to safeguard these treasures. He explained that people want to protect what they consider part of their national identity.  Most importantly, while the world may be getting smaller figuratively, people want separate cultural identities and find their identities in artifacts, like Americans do with the Declaration of Independence or Abraham Lincoln’s hat. However,  Mr. Cuno asked the problem of governments who do not value the cultures of their minorities. There is no easy solution. Going in and “saving” artifacts of cultures smacks of paternalism/colonialism. It’s the justification for why the Parthenon Marbles were taken to begin with.

And the issue of museums and looting in conflict zones is heartbreaking. In the cases of recent looting of museums in Iraq and Syria, international institutions offered to safeguard the artifacts beforehand but the governments refused. As repressive regimes, how could they not? Letting these objects leave the country or even go into safekeeping would be admitting to a failure on their part. Politics definitely play a role with 1000 year old objects.

The Met and Antiquities

On this most recent NY trip, I also went to the Metropolitan Museum, a vast sprawling complex with incredible collection. It’s probably one of my favorite museums in the world (but not number 1, that’s the British Museum).

One of my area interest that I casually study is the ethics of antiquities. I find the whole argument about who owns antiquities fascinating. There is a huge battle going on with Greece, Italy, Egypt and others about reclaiming the ancient artifacts of their nations. There have been scandals and lawsuits and general drama. But it really brings up interesting questions about ownership of the past and present.

Object based history is also fascinating to me since it allows you to look at a fixed item through many decades or centuries, depending on the object. There is how the object was used in its time; how it was used since then and how it is viewed now. Or if the object is perishable like spices or dyes, it allows you to delve into the dynamics of the era it was used in a way that people based histories just don’t seem to work as well.

Anyway, I’ve given two lectures on the Parthenon marbles and Rosetta Stone, which are extremely cool items. Both are at the British Museum and have amazing histories of how they were found, used, and now argued about. The former was ripped out of the Parthenon and the former was found as part of a building, clearly being reused. THe Rosetta stone was a spoil of war (English got it over the French) and it was used to decode hieroglyphics.

So the Metropolian Museum is one museum that runs into a fair amount of trouble with respect to antiquities. A “dissident curator” at the Met, Oscar White Muscarella calls the Roman and Greek galleries “The Temple of Plunder” (Sharon Waxman, Loot 182). One of the arguments made by the Met and other similar institutions is that these artifacts are necessary for the encyclopedic museum. The idea is that these items themselves aren’t sufficient but in context with other cultures. You can’t understand the Greeks without the Egyptians and the Assyrians. The British Museum exemplified that with its’ History of the World in 100 Objects series.

While there are many compelling arguments for returning artifacts to their ancient lands, there is something to this argument. This especially came home to me when I was at the Met. In the American galleries,  I saw Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Egyptian column, inlaid with iridescent mosaic pieces. And then I wandered into the Egyptian galleries and saw the actual column that inspired this 19th/20th century work. One was sandy colored carved stone, a testament to durability, while the other was covered in beautiful glass that shimmered. I could see how the aesthetic of 1000s year old piece inspired the more recent one. It deepened my appreciation for both works.

But that’s one small piece of a larger puzzle about antiquities and ethics.