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Enforcing International Cultural Heritage Law$
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Francesco Francioni and James Gordley

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199680245

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680245.001.0001

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The Quest for the Masterpiece

The Quest for the Masterpiece

Traditional Practices of Collecting in American Museums

(p.228) 11 The Quest for the Masterpiece
Enforcing International Cultural Heritage Law

Holly Flora

Oxford University Press

Over the past decade, museums have been repeatedly accused of knowingly acquiring looted antiquities and even conspiring to do so with shady dealers and their networks of tomb-robbers. In response, leading professional organizations such as the International Council on Museums, the American Association of Museum Directors, and the American Association of Museums have issued new codes of ethics denouncing the collection of antiquities with questionable provenance. This chapter examines the effectiveness of these new codes of ethics in defending cultural heritage, and whether museums can find better ways of reconciling their missions and traditions of acquisition with contemporary ethical standards. It begins with a brief history of the ethics of acquisition in American museums, foregrounding the current debate about and rationale behind these recently revised ethical codes. It then considers those codes in greater detail. Finally, it proposes strategies museums might employ in their efforts to collect ethically.

Keywords:   ethical standards, museum collections, acquisition policies, American museums

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