Danish newspapers report that Italy has formally demanded the return of 100 artefacts currently in the possession of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen (Politiken Sunday 21 December, online here, here and here). I have not seen the list, but apparently it includes artefacts purchased since 1970 as well as a number of earlier acquisitions.
Also of interest is a lengthy interview with curator Jette Christiansen on her experience of the antiquities trade since joining the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in 1971 (online here). She discusses the museum’s relationship with Robert Hecht, who she calls a ‘charming demon’. Hecht was a personal friend of Mogens Gjødesen, director of the Glyptotek until 1978.
Further posts on the Glyptotek here, here, here, and here. See now also the Glyptotek’s own blog (in Danish only).
I hope that the beautiful Glyptotek will hang onto its possessions. Their return would simply be a drop in the bucket in the immensity of Italy’s ancient treasures without contributing anything to archaeological science. The main value of such a return would be to punish the Glyptotek for the sins of others (mainly Italians) and deprive another European region of a significant part of its ancient cultural patrimony, which the Glyptotek collection has become.
Italy derives much from its membership in the European community. It seems inconsistent for it to assault another part of that community when it sees an advantage.
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