Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Monuments for Rent?

Acropolis for Rent

by Peter Tompa

In a move that will no doubt leave archaeological purists aghast, the bankrupt Greek state is considering putting up its major historical sites for rent:

Hopefully, the next step will be the deaccession of excess museum inventory and the creation of a licit antiquities and numismatic market in the country.

What better way to generate much needed cash and to end a corrupt system that allows only the connected to collect what they want.




The failure of the archaeological and cultural ministry establishment to consider economic realities in forming their policies regarding private collecting of antiquities has now led to a situation in which nations such as Greece must choose between supporting an ever more costly and burdensome state-custody system for antiquities and other "archaeological artifacts," and providing social services which their citizens view as being essential. The European economic crisis has reached a point where hard choices must be made to avert consequences such as the collapse of the EEC, and forced return to national currencies for nations such as Greece and Italy with subsequent devaluation and severe austerity regimes.

In such an economic environment it is inevitable that reality will prevail, and rational decisions will be made regarding funding for archaeology, the custodial system for antiquities and maintenance of monuments. It will be found essential to give priority to measures that generate revenue, such as the proposed rental of monuments and maintenance of income-generating sites such as Pompeii.

Peter Tompa's observations regarding deaccession of excess museum inventory and the creation of a licit antiquities and numismatic market are very much in line with this forthcoming focus on revenue generation. Releasing excess museum inventory to the antiquities trade with provenance would be doubly beneficial, in that it would reduce costs at the same time as it would generate significant revenue. It would also create opportunities for collectors worldwide to become interested in these nations and their cultural heritage, and to perhaps visit them.


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