'A Long Road Home' (Witnesses to History: A Compendium of Documents and Writings on the Return of Cultural Objects) (Book Review)
Art Antiquity & Law 2010, Oct, 15, 3
Art Antiquity & Law
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Review of Lyndel V. Prott (ed.) Witnesses to History: A Compendium of Documents and Writings on the Return of Cultural Objects (UNESCO, Paris, 2009) xxvi + 439 pp. I first met Lyndel Prott, editor of this remarkable reader on the return of cultural heritage objects, at Marlborough House in London in January 1986, at a meeting of senior law officials to discuss the formulation of a Commonwealth Scheme for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage. My own country, New Zealand, had a particular interest in this topic. It had just lost in the House of Lords a landmark case in which it had attempted to recover the carved doors of a Maori treasure house--unearthed in a swamp in New Zealand; illegally exported; sold to the Swiss collector George Ortiz and ultimately put up for auction at Sotheby's. (1) New Zealand's experience was not, alas, unique. Many other countries had lost and continued to lose, much of their cultural heritage, and the existing mechanisms of the law often proved ill-adapted or powerless to secure return. Dr Prott (with her husband and academic collaborator, Dr Patrick O'Keefe) had been retained to draft the Scheme. Her lawyerly but nevertheless passionate commitment to changing both law and attitudes was an inspiration, even if the then British opposition clouded and delayed the adoption of the Scheme. (2)
- Category: Performing Arts
- Published: Oct 01, 2010
- Publisher: Institute of Art and Law
- Seller: The Gale Group, Inc.
- Print Length: 11 Pages
- Language: English