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Celina Batchelder

Determining who owns art from the past is a multi-faceted discussion, especially considering that the culture who created the piece may no longer exist. A “finders-keepers” sort of attitude leads to a art history saturated in misrepresentation. On one hand, we want to honor these cultures and leave their artworks with them in order to help sanctify their rich history as much as possible. It is also important to grant other societies and social groups a chance to discover and learn through the observation of other societies/culture’s art. This is why many art pieces, such as the Man and Centaur, can be found in places such as New York City, far from where they were discovered.
When considering this topic, the Mask of Agamemnon comes to mind. It was discovered by the business man, Heinrich Schliemann, and it has been theorized that the mask was altered in order to fit a political agenda. The removal of this item from its original site caused Schliemann to hypothesize its cultural significance, which alters the history we have of the Aegean culture.
While it is important to let other societies enrich themselves in the cultural art works that others have created, it is also important to preserve their legacy as much as we possibly can.