AAMD offering safeguarding for artwork during time of conflict


Aegean Neolithic marble idol from the 5th millennium BC

The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) drew up a list of guidelines on 8 October 2015 to help international artistic and cultural institutions protect and safeguard their precious antiquities of cultural heritage and artistic treasures from damage and destruction in the face of widespread conflict and upheaval.

AAMD, which has 242 members across the United States, Canada and Mexico, is offering museums and galleries in war-torn or natural-disaster-prone zones the opportunity to transfer works of cultural significance to any of its member institutions for safekeeping until their safe return and protection of the works can be guaranteed. The works will also remain the property of their original country during the period of safekeeping, as Julian Raby, a member of AAMD’s task force on archeological materials and ancient art, has commented; “Under the Protocols, the works we will hold will not be the property of the museum. Access to the works, and the exhibition of them, will be determined by the depositor.” The list did however stipulate that the museums could make the transferred items available for public exhibitions and research should they wish to.

Johnetta Cole, AAMD president and director of the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, stated that “The level of destruction and intentional damage is deplorable and an attempt to eradicate cultural identity in tandem with the murder and repression of individuals.” Julian Raby also added that “We are committed to working with our international colleagues to address this crisis collaboratively and with the utmost urgency.”