chapter  21
10 Pages

: Cultural Property: Internationalism, Ethics, and Law

ByAlexander A. Bauer

In December 2002, under increasing pressure to disavow antiquities collecting and return some of the objects they had in their collections, the directors of 19 of the world’s most prestigious art and archaeology museums issued the Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums. They noted in no uncertain terms that:

Given these different values, they argued that museums should not be obligated to return objects that were acquired according to the law and morality of the time. And in any case, such “universal museums” (i.e., those that contain and display an encyclopedic range of cultural materials for an international audience) should be recognized for their value to society and not be dismantled or made to “narrow [their] focus.”