Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Portland Art Museum Sculpture First Online for Scrutiny - Still There .

Bihar or Bengal, India, or Bangladesh (Indian),
Ganesha, Lord of Obstacles, 11th century,
gray schist, , shows him in seated in Rajalilasana
(royal ease). Museum Purchase: Funds
provided by Mr. and Mrs. Hugh McCall
through exchange, 2008.66
In September 2009, the Portland Art Museum acquired a 36-inch-tall stone sculpture of Ganesha from Christie's auction house for $50,000 to $100,000. Like many similar antiquities, the museum doesn't know the ownership history for the work,
But Thursday evening, the museum decided to go even more public with the enigmatic idol when it offered the work for international scrutiny by placing it on the Web site of the Association of Art Museum Directors. The membership organization for major museum directors sets operational and conduct standards. In the days and weeks to follow, anyone -- though most likely it will be South or Southeast Asian cultural organizations or governments -- can examine the work and its history online and then make a claim for ownership. If they can prove the work was stolen from them or illegally exported out of their country, the Portland museum would have to return it. 
The directors association decided in June 2009 to revise the guidelines for sacred objects, requiring museums to be able to trace a work's provenance to November 1970 (that date refers to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Convention of 1970, when countries of origin were granted rights and protection for stolen or illegally exported artworks).
But the directors association added one major caveat regarding those works whose provenance could not meet the 1970 threshold: Museums must register the work at the association's Web site so the international community can scrutinize its history and make a possible claim. The Portland museum is the first to have posted an object online since the June revisions.
That was five years ago. The likelihood of a claim for the Ganesha is slim. In the context of the international art world, Portland's Ganesha isn't rare enough or financially valuable enough to cause a cultural firestorm. Above all, the museum's transparency and the museum's educational and historical mission would persuade any claimant to allow the Portland museum to keep the object. Founded in 1892 and oldest on the West Coast of USA, the Portland Art Museum is internationally recognized for its permanent collection of about 42, 000 objects and the world's finest public and private collections. It receives around 350,000 visitors annually.

D.K. Row, 'Portland Art Museum puts sculpture online for scrutiny', The Oregonian November 02, 2008.

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