Art Collecting and Art Theft
Welcome to the Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter from Northern States Conservation Center. The newsletter is designed to bring you timely and helpful content that is pertinent to situations we all encounter in our museum and archives work. Feel free to let us know what topics you would like to see featured in Collections Caretaker or even contribute an article.
In This Issue

The Art World's Ethical Gray Area
FBI Art Crimes Team: Art Theft 
Featured Course
June 2018 Online Courses
July 2018 Online Courses
Workshops
Conferences and Meetings
The Art World's Ethical Gray Area
By Bill Anderson

The recent [2017] seizure of a 2,300 year-old Roman vase that had long been on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art shined a spotlight on an attitude that pervades the art market and affects not only looted antiquities but stolen art, as well. If there was any suspicion by the Met that the vase was looted and illegally transported out of Italy we won't know.  They certainly should have connected the dots since the dealer through which the piece originally passed was convicted 10 years ago for having brokered another vase to the Met that was looted and returned to Italy.
 
It's too easy for a museum to look the other way and claim problems with provenance or nonexistent records. Museums throughout the world are no doubt in possession of an unfathomable number of artifacts and relics that rightly belong to the country of origin.
 
When it comes to stolen art and artifacts the circumstances are a little less gray but some of the players no more virtuous. Granted it would be hard to find any institution willing to purchase The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, maybe the most iconic of the paintings stolen from the Gardner, or the Bacon's or Warhol's, stolen in the last year in Spain (several are still missing) and Missouri respectively (all still missing). We can only hope they haven't been destroyed.

But works of lesser artists and other artistic objects can be laundered in various ways to find themselves without proper provenance or with vague identities. In particular, too little effort is applied to finding rightful owners of artifacts of historical or religious significance.

The UNESCO convention has placed pressure on institutions to apply more rigorous standards to identifying the origins of a piece that may have been looted. Applying the convention to stolen art that is privately held and sold is more difficult, leaving sellers and buyers to their own ethical restraints. And where enough money is involved, restraints can soften considerably.

With too many people willing to look the other way the opportunities to succeed with theft increase.  We only hear about what people want to publicize, which is just the tip of the iceberg. Protecting your assets by having a properly blended security system that is always on is the only prudent defense against theft.
 
Bill Anderson is a Founder/Partner in Art Guard. For nearly a decade, Art Guard has been a leader in providing innovative, cost-effective security solutions for the protection of art and cultural assets in a wide array of institutions, facilities and private collections around the world. Reprinted with permission. Originally published August 2017.
FBI Art Crimes Team: Art Theft

Art and cultural property crime-which includes theft, fraud, looting, and trafficking across state and international lines-is a looming criminal enterprise with estimated losses in the billions of dollars annually.

To recover these precious pieces-and to bring these criminals to justice-the FBI has a dedicated Art Crime Team of 16 special agents, supported by DOJ trial attorneys for prosecutions. The Bureau also runs the National Stolen Art File, a computerized index of reported stolen art and cultural properties for the use of law enforcement agencies across the world.

To learn more about the FBI's Art Crimes Team and the work that they do go to https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/violent-crime/art-theft
Featured Course: Disaster Plan Research and Writing

Every museum needs to be prepared for fires, floods, chemical spills,
tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters. But surveys show 80 percent lack trained staff, emergency-preparedness plans for their collections, or both. Disaster Plan Research and Writing begins with the creation of disaster-preparedness teams, the importance of ongoing planning, employee safety, board participation and insurance. Participants will learn everything they need to draft their own disaster-preparedness plans. They also will be required to incorporate colleagues in team-building exercises. A written disaster-preparedness plan is not only a good idea, it's also a requirement for accreditation. In the second half of the course, instructor Terri Schindel reviews and provides input as participants write plans that outline the procedures to follow in various emergencies. The completed plan prepares museums physically and mentally to handle emergencies that can harm vulnerable and irreplaceable collections. You will have a completed institutional disaster-preparedness and response plan at the end of the course.

Every museum and cultural institution needs to have an Emergency Response Plan.  Do you have one?  If not, this is the perfect time and course to get yours started!  Join Terri Schindel for MS205/206 Disaster Plan Research and Writing starting July 2, 2018. 
Early Bird Discounts Available for Full Length Courses
 
An Early Bird Discount is available for anyone who signs up for a full length course from museumclasses.org 30 days prior to the start of that course.  
 
Sign up for a full length course up to 30 days prior to its start and save $100.00!
 
For our course list or to sign up: http://www.collectioncare.org/course-list  
 
To take advantage of this discount, you must enter coupon code EARLYBIRD at checkout at collectioncare.org
 
The Early Bird Discount deadline for June courses is May 19, 2018 
 
The Early Bird Discount deadline for July courses is June 2, 2018    
June 2018 Courses
 
June 18 to August 3, 2018
Instructor:  Gawain Weaver
Description:
Photographic materials cover a diverse range, everything from the daguerreotypes and wet plate negatives of the 19th century to the gelatin silver, chromogenic and inkjet prints of the 20th and now 21st century. Care of Photographs offers a broad introduction to the history, technology, identification, and care of these and other photographic materials. Topics include environmental monitoring, the effects of temperature and relative humidity, and the importance of cold storage for certain photographic materials. It is intended to help those caring for photographic materials to gain a better understanding of their collections and how to care for them.
July 2018 Courses
 
July 2 to August 24, 2018
Instructor: Terri Schindel
Description:
Every museum needs to be prepared for fires, floods, chemical spills, tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters. But surveys show 80 percent lack trained staff, emergency-preparedness plans for their collections, or both. Disaster Plan Research and Writing begins with the creation of disaster-preparedness teams, the importance of ongoing planning, employee safety, board participation and insurance. Participants will learn everything they need to draft their own disaster-preparedness plans. They also will be required to incorporate colleagues in team-building exercises. A written disaster-preparedness plan is not only a good idea, it's also a requirement for accreditation. In the second half of the course, instructor Terri Schindel reviews and provides input as participants write plans that outline the procedures to follow in various emergencies. The completed plan prepares museums physically and mentally to handle emergencies that can harm vulnerable and irreplaceable collections. You will have a completed institutional disaster-preparedness and response plan at the end of the course.
 
July 2 to 31, 2018
Instructor: Peggy Schaller
Description:
Cataloging may not be the most exciting museum task, but it is among the most important. Without a clear knowledge of your holdings, you can't protect, care for, research or exhibit them. Without knowledge of an item's history, you can't properly appreciate its value to your museum. Cataloging Your Collection covers all details needed to catalog a collection. Procedures for handling, measuring and describing all types of objects and materials are discussed in detail. Participants receive sample forms and learn the best practices for numbering artifacts, performing inventory and assessing the condition of objects. Participants practice describing everyday objects and cataloging items from their own collections or households.
 
MS210: Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives
July 2 to August 10, 2018
Instructor: Christina Cain
Description:
The only thing worse than mice or cockroaches in your kitchen, is finding them in your museum collection. Participants in Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives learn low-toxicity methods of controlling infestations. IPM is the standard method for treating incoming items and monitoring holdings. Integrated Pest Management for Museums, Libraries and Archives discusses how infestations occur, helps identify risks, provides feasible mitigation strategies, discusses the different techniques of treating infested materials, and helps you complete an IPM plan and monitoring schedule for your institution. The course covers pest identification, insects, rodent, birds, bats, other mammals and mold infestations, as well as other problems raised by participants.
 
July 2 to 31, 2018
Instructor:  Peggy Schaller
Description:
This course will examine the role of ethics in museums and related institutions. Topics addressed will include the differences in ethics, laws, and morals; what ethics are and where they come from; the ethical codes that museum professionals follow; how ethics affect professional practices; why ethics are important; and how ethical standards can help museums and related institutions better serve society. Participants in the course will gain an understanding of the importance of ethics in professional museum practice, how codes of ethics are written and why they are important, and will develop an understanding of the most significant codes of ethics subscribed to by museum professionals.
Workshops

Care and ID of Photographs

UCLA Library Special Collections, Los Angeles, CA
May 21-24, 2018
Presented by Gawain Weaver, Photograph Conservator
Conferences and Meetings
 
2018  
Association of Living History and Agricultural Museums, Tahlequah, OK
June 1-5, 2018
 
AAMG & UMAC Conference 2018, Miami, FL 
June 21-24, 2018 
 
Association of Midwest Museums, Chicago, IL
July 18-21, 2018
 
Society of American Archivists, Washington, DC
August 12-18, 2018
 
Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Dunedin, New Zealand
August 25-September 2, 2018 

Mountain-Plains Museums Association, Billings, MT
September 11-September 15, 2018
 
 
Oklahoma Museums Association, Edmond, OK
September 19-21, 2018

American Association of State and Local History, Kansas City, MO 
September 26-29, 2018  
 
   

 
Southeastern Museums Conference, 2018 Annual Meeting, Jackson, MS
October 8-10, 2018
 
 
International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection, Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA
October 13-17, 2018 
 
Western Museums Association, Tacoma, WA
October 21-24, 2018 
 
New England Museum Association, Stamford, CT
November 7-9, 2018
 
National Association for Interpretation,  
New Orleans, LA
November 27-December 1, 2018
 
2019  
National Association for Interpretation, Denver, Colorado
November 12-16, 2019

2020
National Association for Interpretation,
Saint Augustine, FL
November 10-14, 2020
 


Submissions and Comments
How to submit an article or upcoming workshops for inclusion in the Newsletter:  
If you would like to submit an article, notice of an organizational meeting or upcoming workshop for an upcoming Collections Caretaker Newsletter, send your submission to peggy@collectioncare.org .  
 
We are always looking for contributions to this newsletter. Submission deadline is the 10th of each month. 
 
Have a comment or suggestion?   
 
Northern States Conservation Center (NSCC) provides training, collection care, preservation and conservation treatment services. NSCC offers online museum studies classes at   museumclasses.org in Collections Management & Care, Museum Administration & Management, Exhibit Practices and Museum Facilities Management.
 
Sincerely,
Helen Alten, Director
Peggy Schaller, Publications Manager