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1997-98 "The fight against illicit traffic of cultural property "


On 18th May 1997, ICOM celebrated the 20th Anniversary of International Museums Day. The theme was the ongoing fight against the illicit traffic of cultural property, one that will be kept in 1998.

International mobilisation for the ongoing fight against the illicit traffic of cultural property

This year International Museums Day was a real success!
To mobilise ICOM's National Committees for the Day's celebrations, and to help them raise public awareness concerning theft and looting, each Committee was invited to create a poster based on a format proposed by the Secretariat to illustrate the problem in its country. The number of posters created and the events organised throughout the world are unfortunate proof of the extent of the theft and looting of cultural property, and of the international scale of illicit traffic. All museum professionals are faced with the same urgent requirement: protecting heritage. The following is a brief look at the information sent to ICOM Secretariat on the activities organised on International Museums Day. Over to you now; tell us about your activities!

On 18th May 1997, ICOM celebrated the 20th Anniversary of International Museums Day. The theme was the ongoing fight against the illicit traffic of cultural property, one that will be kept in 1998.

International mobilisation for the ongoing fight against the illicit traffic of cultural property

This year International Museums Day was a real success!
To mobilise ICOM's National Committees for the Day's celebrations, and to help them raise public awareness concerning theft and looting, each Committee was invited to create a poster based on a format proposed by the Secretariat to illustrate the problem in its country. The number of posters created and the events organised throughout the world are unfortunate proof of the extent of the theft and looting of cultural property, and of the international scale of illicit traffic. All museum professionals are faced with the same urgent requirement: protecting heritage. The following is a brief look at the information sent to ICOM Secretariat on the activities organised on International Museums Day. Over to you now; tell us about your activities!

Posters

A total of 28 countries made posters with the model supplied by ICOM (only two chose a different format). Each country had included the image of an object, part of the national heritage, that had been stolen. During the Advisory Committee meeting in Paris last June the posters that were sent to the Secretariat by the following countries were exhibited at UNESCO House:

  • Africa: Algeria, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Seychelles and Tunisia.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru.
  • Asia: Azerbaijan, China and Sri Lanka.
  • Europe: Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Macedonia, Poland and Spain.

Activities

Apart from the posters, museums organised different activities to celebrate International Museums Day, often taking up the theme of illicit traffic. The Day provides museums with the opportunity to promote their role vis--vis the public, and in many countries the occasion took on the importance of a national event.

Africa
Algeria Diskette of the poster sent to all the museums in the country. Morocco Newsletter of the Moroccan National Committee devoted to the problem of illicit traffic of cultural property. Seychelles A week of events. Exhibition at the National History Museum on protecting cultural heritage, and the role of the museum. Swaziland A day's seminar on illicit traffic: 34 participants, including 19 police and customs officers. Tunisia Documentary exhibition at the Bardo National Museum on the means for fighting against illicit traffic.

Latin America and the Caribbean
Argentina A day on preserving cultural property, and on illicit traffic, organised by the Argentinian National Committee in conjunction with the Museo Historico del Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires. Information from the press kit sent by ICOM translated into Spanish. Brazil Open days. Throughout the year, the Heritage Institute will be organising discussions on protecting cultural property. Costa Rica Activities at the Centro Nacional de Cultura, focusing on national and international legislation concerning the protection of cultural and natural heritage. Event given extensive coverage by both press and television. Ecuador Exhibition at the Centro de Arte de la Universidad Technologica Equinoccial on Science and Technology in the service of Conservation. Discussions on the theme of illicit traffic. Poster sent to all the museums in the country. Many press articles.
Cayman Islands Exhibition at the National Museum on national and international legislation on heritage. Open days. Paraguay Press conference and exhibition called Objects, eight artists from MERCOSUR member countries organised by the Paraguayan National Committee. Poster printed on T-shirts. Peru Exhibition at the Ricardo Palma Miraflores Cultural Centre organised by the Peruvian National Committee in conjunction with other national institutions. Presentation of the plan for legislation on protecting cultural heritage, as well as other events in a week of activities. Poster in the form of a leaflet, with information on illicit traffic. Subject widely covered by the press. St. Kitts and Nevis Leaflet entitled Protect our Cultural Property handed to each museum visitor. Uruguay Colloquium on the Day's theme with extensive press coverage.

Asia
Azerbaijan Emphasis on the destruction of cultural property during the war. China Activities on a national scale organised by the Chinese National Committee. Singapore This year, for the first time, the Day was celebrated as a national event, attracting a large number of visitors. Open days and special activities in 13 institutions. Turkey 18th-24th May: stressing the importance of protecting world heritage and the need to introduce international criteria on museology. Sri Lanka Seminar on illicit traffic.

Europe
Belgium Programme of activities developed by the French-speaking Belgian National Committee for October 1997, intended for museum professionals as well as the authorities and the general public. Czech Republic Open days. Bagpipes in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia exhibition at the J.A. Comenius Museum presenting legal exchanges of property as a counterpoint to the theme on illicit traffic, thanks to co-operation between 27 of the country's institutions. Cyprus Photo exhibition of stolen objects at the Nicosia Museum. Extensive information given to the public on the theft of the works, ways to combat theft, and ICOM's Code of Professional Ethics. Finland Prize for museological activity awarded to the Heinola Museum by the Finnish National Committee. Great interest in the Day's theme shown throughout the country, reflecting current concerns regarding export of national cultural heritage. Many articles in the press. Greece Special activities in many museums. Evening of lectures by the Society of Greek Archaeologists. Special magazine issue of the daily newspaper Kathimerini, produced in conjunction with the Greek National Committee, devoted to the worldwide problem of illicit traffic of cultural property. Leaflet on the repatriation of the Aidonia Mycenean Treasure. Italy Day of lectures at the Museo delle Culture Extraeuropee "Dinz Rialto" on entrusting to museums collections of archaeological objects belonging to Ecuador, organised by the Italian National Committee. Poland Meeting on illicit traffic held by the Polish National Committee with museum professionals at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. Meeting with the Minister for the Arts and museum personnel. Spain Exhibition on stolen objects and illicit traffic at Jaen Provincial Museum with support from the Caja Foundation in Grenada. Lectures on protecting heritage, attended among others by an officer from the Guardia Civil. Sweden 17th October: day of debates on the theme of illicit traffic at the Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm, organised by the Swedish National Committee
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Updated: 15 Septembre 2005