Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Asia Society/Antiquities Coalition Meeting: A Few Afterthoughts

Video of the fascinating Asia Society/Antiquities Coalition meeting here. I came away from it hopeful that we are beginning to get somewhere, in several senses. First, Kevin Rudd's involvement as the director of the Asia Society's new policy shop gives us a former Prime Minister of Australia with the political leadership chops to help persuade both governments and powerful private parties to focus on the problem in a strategic way. Second, the stated willingness of a media campaign specialist to raise awareness in the corporate sector holds out the hope that, together with Rudd and of course the Antiquities Coalition, something like the Clinton Global Initiative's ivory project but for antiquities might actually be possible. Third, the meeting showed that there are a number of policy ideas cooking, some of them (like the antiquities-leasing scheme I push, or Cuno's retro notion of a return to partake, or the boots-on-the-ground called for by several speakers) more dramatic and unrealizable in the short term than others, but the key thing is to have this kind of discussion happening.

Viewers can draw their own conclusions about the exchanges between Jim Cuno and Matthew Bogdanov, Katharyn Hanson, and me over Cuno's worry that the problem is overblown and his suggestion near the end of the program -- in response to my earlier modest proposal that the Getty and other museums could dramatically shrink the market for looted antiquities by renting out some of the artifacts sitting in their store-rooms -- that doing so would be a step backward.

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