The Met continues to return objects from its collections

…and it’s a good thing. Read more here.

“Gilded Coffin of the Priest Nedjemankh,” Late Ptolemaic Period (150-50 BCE) cartonnage, gold, silver, resin, glass, wood (image courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

10 thoughts on “The Met continues to return objects from its collections

  1. Madeline Hite

    Until I began taking this class I never thought about how a significant portion of art in museums may be looted. I especially didn’t expect to read that art from Egypt (amongst other countries) was being stolen and successfully sold to the MET as recent as 2011. I think it’s shocking that facilities dedicated to educating the public arent thoroughly checking paperwork to avoid forgeries and in some cases refusing to return the art to its nation of origin even after discovering the corrupt conditions of how they acquired the object.

  2. Maddie Almand

    I remember the issue of looting being addressed in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, an early 2000s Disney film when the villain tried rationalizing with the protagonist by saying “if you returned every stolen artifact from a museum you’d be left with an empty building.”, but given that I was a child I didn’t fully understand what they were talking about. However, now that I’ve taken this and several other classes that involve this topic I’ve realized just how devastating looting can be and am shocked to find that it’s still a major issue. I think that the MET has the right mindset in that they should return looted items to their proper homes, but also agree that they should have been more attentive in preventing it from happening in the first place.

  3. Mary Wells

    This class has opened my eyes to just how important it is that objects stay in their right locations. I personally am truly glad that the Met it setting an example and giving objects back to their rightful locations/owners. Similar to anything else mistakes are made because we are human, so I understand that paperwork may not have been checked as thoroughly as it needed to be. The importance lies in the responsibility the Met shows by understanding that mistakes are made and doing what is morally right. This just goes to show the timeline of history and the reality of the fact that items were often looted. This gives amazing detail into how certain items or characteristics were moved from area to area. Overall I found this article to be very informative, at the beginning of this class I wouldn’t have even thought twice about the information share but now I almost feel as if I am emotionally invested!

  4. Meredith Pons

    Prior to taking this class I visited many art museums and never once did I think that any of the pieces or art were stolen and taken from where they belong. It is crazy that these ancient and expensive pieces of art are being sold successfully to the MET as of recently. I can’t fathom how such important artifacts are acquired and so freely passed around.

  5. Kym Laver

    Displaying looted artifacts is of course unacceptable. Not only is it disgraceful to possess something that was stolen from its rightful home but it is also reckless and irresponsible to support such organizations that commit such thefts. In addition, I believe it to be regrettable that any foreign artifacts that were not gifted to a museum out of generosity should permanently reside outside their country of origin. Doing so profits off another country’s culture while depriving them of their own artifacts significant to their culture and potentially minimizes their tourism industry. In the age of technology, museums can include impressively life-like digital copies of foreign artifacts so that the artifacts themselves may stay in their country of origin but can be admired abroad.

  6. Jacie Waltner

    I had never realized the effect that it had on communities and the art world when works are removed from their original location. It takes away from the culture of that area and from the culture of that piece of work. It would be a much better experience to see architecture from where it was originally, if you have the ability to travel the world. It is definitely good to bring art back to their home place instead of moving them when they are being excavated. I am glad they have decided to move this art back and restore its culture and meaning in its home place.

  7. Katie Ragone

    I never understood the importance of ancient art needing to stay in the country where it was built. I have always loved art but have never had the time or money to travel all over and check out every art museum, so being able to see artwork that was created in Egypt and Italy in the United States was really nice. In my Art History class, however, I have learned that it is extremely important to keep ancient artworks in their rightful countries. This will limit the amount of damage to the pieces and the country can show off something from their past that they are proud of. The mistake that the MET made was something I found a little frustrating. But after further reading the article and learning that they are returning certain artworks and trying to make things right, puts me more at ease of the whole situation.

  8. Garrett Zendek

    It is sad that some pieces of art are not in its rightful place due to looting. It’s surprising that forged paperwork is still somehow getting through museums, but it is good that they are starting to crack down on the problem. The fact that someone is willing to spend millions of dollars on something without legal documents baffles me.

  9. Kayla Cunningham

    As someone concerned with social justice, I was already attuned to the problem of stolen art in museums, but I didn’t know much about how it is dealt with. For that reason, this article was an especially interesting read–Learning how such a large institution deals with the discovery of stolen art+forged provenance documents was enlightening. I think the MET’s position is commendable–but the comments from Leila Amineddoleh raise serious questions about the sincerity of their position. I agree that it’s important that they set an example for other institutions, and I agree that a review of their acquisitions program is absolutely necessary. Though, Amineddoleh points out that there are already guidelines in place for navigating this problem. Forged provenance documents are apparently commonplace, and the ‘red flags were there’. This seems to speak to the power dynamics which underpin this issue. What happens to stolen pieces from countries who aren’t able to fight for provenance as effectively?

  10. Sarah Khalil

    I have never thought about the concept of stolen art until i read this article, and how devastating it can be. This issue can be a wake-up call for many ancient artifact museums, even the MET will take something out this experience as well. I think each artifact should not be removed from where it was originally found, as it can lose its originality, and to prevent the possible damages that can occur in the process of moving it to a different location. I hope in the near future, artifact museums will make a change and stop removing artifacts from their original location, because all artifacts deserve to be where it was originally found.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *