To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
Subject: [African_Arts] "The Sound of Artifacts Disappearing" today in the LA Times
As a follow-up to the recent discussion in which I touched upon the idea (in Message 2824) of works being shared among museums to enable accessibility and to fulfill the role of museums as purveyors of global knowledge, history and art (thus justifying the transfer and holding of works away from their places of origin), an article which appears today in the LA Times may be of interest. It offers another perspective on the state of this aspect of the arts worthy of consideration. See Craig Childs' "The Sound of Artifacts Disappearing" at http://www.latimes. com/news/ printedition/ asection/ la-oe-childs29ja n29,1,5320246. story?ctrack= 1&cset=true.
One passage that caught my eye:
"In museum collections across the country, ancient bowls are stacked because there is no more room. I have walked the astonishing corridors locked within the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the overstocked storage space of the Peabody at Harvard University -- four stories of towering pre-Columbian ceramics. I say enough is enough.
A recent study of collections held in public trust in the United States found that 40% of all stockpiled artifacts are in unknown condition. Curators who actually work with their collections -- rather than in well-paid office positions -- complain of bags splitting open and boxes decaying. Some artifacts are being "de-accessioned" -- sold to collectors -- or in some cases, as with samples and specimens, tossed in the trash."
I continue to believe that in addition to the need to explore more fully the ideas underlying the movement of cultural objects, there remains a need to consider new approaches to the distribution and custody of works that are held in the name of preservation and the development of a broadened conception of world art and history.