Medium 9781442267596

Collections Vol 2 N4

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"Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals" is a multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the discussion of all aspects of handling, preserving, researching, and organizing collections. Curators, archivists, collections managers, preparators, registrars, educators, students, and others contribute.

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Editor‘s Foreword

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Welcome—to the second special issue of Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals. The guest editor for this number on legal issues is Dr. Pamela Trimpe from the University of Iowa. Even though our midwestern homes are less than a five-hour car ride apart down Interstate 80, Pam and I had not known each other before she agreed to serve on the editorial board of this journal. I believe that you will agree with me that we were very fortunate to have Dr. Trimpe agree to serve. She is one of those very few individuals who are working museum professionals who hold a J.D., thus she is imminently qualified to organize this issue on legal issues.

Dr. Trimpe received her B.A. from Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa, followed by her J.D. from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Dr. Trimpe completed her education at the University of Kansas where she received a M.A., M.Phil., and finally her Ph.D. in 1991 studying the History of Art. Her first professional museum positions began as Associate Curator and then Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In 1992, Dr. Trimpe became Curator of Painting and Sculpture in the University of Iowa Museum of Art, which is a position that she held until 2005. During this period she also held the positions of Assistant Director for two years and Curator of Collections for three years and has had adjunct academic appointments in the Department of Art and Art History, School of Law, and the program in Museum Studies. Beginning in January 2005, she held a series of administrative positions with the University of lowa Museum of Natural History and Old Capitol Museum and finally was officially appointed Director of these museums in March 2006.

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Guest Editor‘s Foreword

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Collections are formed of objects and involve property law and contract law. But, collections demand from those of us charged with their keeping, much more. We act as fiduciaries for our objects and thus we are held to a higher standard of care than would operate in a normal property ownership situation. Museums exist to care for, contain, and create human ingenuity—in the form of biological specimens to works of art. But the building of museum structures or the organization of public programs begins with the object and its specified need, from a collective to individual source, for preservation. The more “precious” an object, the more desirable ownership becomes. Deciding who safeguards what has fired debates that will never dim. Public institutions, such as museums, have been criticized and confronted with possible legal consequences for engaging in certainly unethical and possibly illegal practices—especially in how they amass collections.

The essays in this volume of Collections reflect the varied legal issues that museums and institutions confront merely by possessing their collections. The topics in this issue include the illegal looting of art works once owned by the Iraqi Museum of Modern art, a tale of Nazi war loot, a case study displaying the confused state of copyright ownership for paintings, and the complications that result from shipping rare natural specimens from country to country. Such a varied offering is not at all unique in the world of collections when it intersects with the world of law. All of these essays highlight the sensitive issues that comprise this field.

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The Iraqi Museum of Modern Art: Legal Implications of the 2003 Invasion

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Nada Shabout

Assistant Professor of Art History, School of visual Arts, P.O. Box 305100, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas 76203 (Shabout@unt.edu).

AbstractThis essay addresses the looting and destruction of the Iraqi Museum of Modern Art and the current state of its collection. Few works were retrieved. Nevertheless, there has been a lack of international attention and funds for restoration and preservation of these works, which is intensified by a lack of organized action to stop the trafficking of the stolen works in view of the destruction of the Museum’s archives. These issues are discussed within the context of the national museum and its role in postcolonial societies, in terms of responsibilities of the occupying powers, and in relation to UN Security Council Resolution 1483 of May 22, 2003, reaffirmed in October 16, 2003, in Resolution 1511. Both Resolutions emphasize the temporary role of the Coalition Authority, as well as the protection of Iraq’s heritage through establishing a ban on international trade in Iraqi cultural property.

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Long after the War is Over, the Controversy Remains: Looting of Cultural Properties by the Nazis during Word War II

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Patricia VanRollins

Recent Graduate, University of Iowa School of Law, 241 Lexington Avenue, Iowa City, IA 52246 (pvanrollins@msn.com).

AbstractThis article reviews Nazi confiscations during World War II, focusing on three major points: 1) the theory and rational behind the confiscations; 2) the laws enabling the seizure of property; and 3) the organizations and people responsible for the looting. The story of Maria Altmann illustrates the complexity of international laws involved in recovering looted art works. Altmann v. Austria is a landmark case because it was the first of its kind to reach the U. S. Supreme Court. In January 2006, Mrs. Altmann agreed to binding arbitration in Austria; the three judges unanimously awarded her 5 of the 6 paintings by Gustav Klimt to which she is heir. In late March 2006, the paintings arrived in Los Angeles where the most famous of the paintings, Adele Bloch-Bauer I was placed on display in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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Endangered Collections: Legal Obligations for Museums Holding Endangered Species

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Tiffany Adrain

Collections Manager, Paleontology Repository, Department of Geoscience, University of Iowa. Iowa City, IA 52242 (tiffany-adrain@uiowa.edu).

AbstractMany museums, especially those with natural history collections, hold some material that is covered by a multitude of laws concerning endangered species. Determining whether these laws apply to objects in your collections can be quite confusing without specialist knowledge. New acquisitions must be properly documented and accompanied by the relevant permits. A separate permit may be required to hold the material in the collections. Loans of endangered species material require permits for transport between international and sometimes out-of-state institutions. Objects brought into museums by the public for identification may be subject to at least one of several laws that make their possession illegal without a permit. Museums must ensure that endangered species laws are not violated, even accidentally, when accessioning, loaning, exchanging, and transporting applicable material. Special exemptions can be obtained for museum and scientific research collections including import/export permits, re-export certificates, and the CITES Certificate of Scientific Exchange. The aim of these exemptions is to allow research and education access to museum material while protecting endangered plants and animals from illegal trade.

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Museums and Copyright: Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

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Blythe Burkhardt and Pamela Trimpe

Burkhardt is JD Candidate, University of Iowa College of Law and Interim Outreach Coordinator University of Iowa International Programs, 1111 University Capitol Centre, Iowa City, IA 52242 (blythe-burkhardt@uiowa.edu) ; Trimpe is Director, The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History and Old Capitol Museum, #21 Old Capitol, Iowa City, IA 52242 (pamela-trimpe@uiowa.edu).

AbstractMuseums face intellectual property issues daily—particularly copyright concerns. While museums may have ownership of a particular work, they often do not know who owns the copyright and what rights that gives them. Copyright owners are given the exclusive rights to reproduce, adapt, distribute, publicly perform, and publicly display their works. U.S. Copyright law, with its origin in the U.S. Constitution, is governed by the Copyright Acts of 1909 and 1976. Under these acts copyright ownership is granted usually to the artist who creates the work, but may be extended to others when specific requirements are met. Iowa artist Grant Wood, founder of the Regionalist Art Movement, can be considered a poster child for copyright issues. The rights in many of his works are policed by a professional intellectual property licensing organization. Here we review three instances where Wood’s work has been at the center of copyright ownership debates, in a public domain question, in a work for hire situation, and in a transfer of copyright ownership. These case studies serve as useful examples for museums confronting their own copyright ownership concerns.

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Reference Guide to Museum Legal Issues

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Nicolette B. Meister and Pamela Trimpe

Meister is Curator of Collections, Logan Museum of Anthropology and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Museum Studies, Beloit College, Beloit, WI 53511 (meistern@beloit.edu); Trimpe is Director, The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History and Old Capitol Museum, #21 Old Capitol, Iowa City, IA, 52242 (pamela-trimpe@uiowa.edu).

Museum and archives collection professionals are responsible for the acquisition, accession, preservation, interpretation, and accessibility of the material they curate. None of these activities are immune from legal implications. And if the legal issues aren’t complicated enough, different bodies of national and international law apply to different types of collections. From cultural property rights in anthropology museums, to copyright and Nazi-era provenance research in art museums, the collection and transport of endangered species in natural history museums, and privacy and publicity rights in archives, we contend with legal issues in all facets of our work.

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