March 9, 2012

Should museums "own" antiquity?

James Cuno's view on cultural patrimony

To kick off our topic of cultural heritage, we present one viewpoint about the rightful ownership of cultural artifacts. James Cuno is the president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, which administers the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, an encyclopedic museum with a multi-billion-dollar endowment. Cuno, an art historian, has also written a number of books arguing that antiquity belongs collectively to all humankind and not to a specific location, government or culture. In recent years, the Getty has made strides in complying with the practice of other museums and with international laws that call for repatriation of objects whose provenance is undocumented. Getty's appointment (and his stance on cultural objects) is controversial among archeologists and others among the academic community. Follow the link below to watch a video discussion with Cuno sponsored by ArtBabble, a resource developed by the Indianapolis Museum of Art: