Proposal 3: Art Repatriation and the Museum Business

Using this topic, I had difficulty finding a source published by a business or from the viewpoint of a a business entity. In the case of art repatriation, the most business-like entities that regularly deal with the issue are museums. Museums obviously have an economic incentive to keep artifacts within their walls.  Exhibits are what people pay to come to see and its important to have interesting and historically significant items on display. While this article wasn’t published by a museum, it announces important actions taken by the Met in New York City to repatriate artifacts to Egypt.  While the reasons behind their decision could be numerous, this effort to return objects to Egypt could be set an important precedent for museums in the U.S. who currently house significant items form antiquity.

The Met, after pressure from Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, is voluntarily returning items from King Tuts tomb. No other museums in the U.S. have agreed to give up important pieces of their collection for repatriation. Although the reasoning wasn’t disclosed, this move could be a diplomatic action on the part of the Met. Maintaining positive relationships with other countries could give them priority for hosting exhibits from Egypt in the future. They also could have been trying to set an example in the industry as the first to actively repatriate items from their collections. Among all the possibilities, it still remains that the museums have a vested economic interest in keeping the items in their exhibits.


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