Home Forums Who owns the past? Who owns the past? Reply To: Who owns the past?

Tamara Toy

This is a very complex issue that has a lot of different angles that need to be taken into consideration. First of all, I feel is the art in question is a culture that is still in existence, their wishes should be taken into consideration. So much art and personal effects were lost when the relocations took place in the U.S., some of which is still being fought over in the courts. I feel if more respect for their wishes had been used in recent years, some people may be more open to pieces being on loan to a museum. Much of what we deem art can end up being religious or sacred artifacts and I feel this should be returned if it is requested.
When it comes to art that is from a culture that is not still in existence, I feel that this is a greyer area. Yes, the country or area that it was recovered from, like the art of Babylonia, there should some consideration to the wishes and traditions of the modern country or culture. However, if for example, Iraq does not want these pieces preserved, I feel there is a need to override their wishes to keep the art for future generations. Again, there is a fine line here that is difficult for me to decide on. Each culture brings up different issues to be addressed.
The one thing is that we live in an age of technology. The things we can do with imagery and 3-d printing is amazing. While I understand that it is not the same seeing a reproduction of the Mona Lisa as it is seeing the real thing, I feel that sometimes this may be a compromise to honor these ancient cultures and still benefit from what they can teach us.