Museum Directors Offer Safe Haven for Art Endangered by Conflict and Disaster

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October 1, 2015; New York Times, “ArtsBeat”

The Association of Art Museum Directors announced on Thursday that they have developed a set of protocols for a safe haven program for artwork and antiquities that are endangered by terrorism, violent conflict, or natural disaster. The protocols, which can be accessed here, would provide an avenue to request that a member museum provide refuge for the items until conditions their safe return can be effectuated. The items would be formally treated as loans to avoid any potential problems with repatriation.

“The scale of human suffering and loss of life that is taking place in Syria and other afflicted areas is devastating, and is compounded by the loss of unique works that are the record of different cultures and our shared humanity,” Johnnetta Cole, director of the National Museum of African American Art and president of the museum directors association, said in a statement. “The level of destruction and the intentional damage is deplorable and an attempt to eradicate cultural identity in tandem with the murder and repression of individuals.”

The directors’ association said it has 240 members in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.—Ruth McCambridge