Association of Art Museum Directors Asks Members to Stop Stealing


Well here’s kind of a funny one. So the Association of Art Museum Directors has assembled a big batch of museum directors from all over the country to put together a new set of guidelines and publish a report called “Acquisition of Archaeological Materials and Ancient Art.” (PDF) Basically, it boils down to this message: “We need to stop stealing stuff.” Apparently tired of museums getting raided by federal agents with guns, having to return pieces to the foreign countries they belong to, and seeing their names associated with employees who may or may not have been involved in slightly-less-than-legal dealings, the AAMD decided that it was high time to nip this behavior in the bud. This news, of course, came much to the chagrin of tomb robbers and cat burglars, all of whom rely on this market to put food on the table for their hungry tomb robbing, cat burglaring children. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time, dear thieves. Here’s a bit from Newsday:

The guidelines announced Wednesday by the Association of Art Museum Directors say that member museums should normally not acquire an ancient work of art unless research proves that the work was outside the country where it was discovered in 1970 or was legally exported from its country of discovery after 1970.

Objects without documentation going back that far are more likely to have been stolen or illegally dug up and smuggled out of their country of origin.

We love how flexible this all is. “…should not normally acquire…” That’s a great line. “…should not normally acquire…unless it’s really, really shiny.”