Sunday, September 25, 2011
Menil collection returning frescoes
In a deviation from the standard antiquities narrative (American museum turns up artifact with shady provenance, outraged foreign government demands return of artifact, drawn-out legal battle ensues with typical loss of goodwill on both sides), the Menil Collection will return its 13th-century Byzantine frescoes to Cyprus. The museum's founder purchased the frescoes on behalf of the Greek Orthodox church, after discovering that they had been looted. New York Times details the terms of an agreement brokered between the church and the Menil, as the Dominique de Menil's foundation both purchased and restored the frescoes in return for a long-term loan. It's encouraging to see such a positive interaction between the market, a museum, and the rightful owners of an outstanding cultural artifact and artwork.