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Association of Art Museum Directors Establish New Protocol for Protecting Antiquities

The Association of Art Museum Directors announced yesterday that they have created new guidelines in the hopes of aiding cultural organizations and institutions to better understand how to shepherd works of art and archaeological objects of importance that are at risk of being damage, looted, or destroyed, according to a report by Serge F. Kovaleski in the New York Times.

Under the new plan, titled “Protocols for Safe Havens for Works of Cultural Significance from Countries in Crisis,” owners of works that are endangered because of terrorism, conflict, or natural disasters could request that the items be transferred to an association member museum until conditions improve enough for their safe return. These works would then be considered as loaned, to ensure that the pieces would be repatriated. The protocols also advise that museums providing safe haven should make the works available for scholarly research and also may exhibit them to the public depending on the wishes of the owners. The association is currently composed of 240 member museums across the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

This strategic plan on the part of museums comes in the wake of a disturbing, recent upswing in the destruction of historical sites and antiquities, as noted by Johnnetta B. Cole, president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, in a statement regarding the new protocols: “The scale of human suffering and loss of life that is taking place in Syria and other afflicted areas is devastating, and is compounded by the loss of unique works that are the record of different cultures and our shared humanity.”