Institutional Transparency, Databases, and Policies: The Naamwaa Registry and Ethical Acquisitioning of Archaeological Material and Ancient Art
Cultural heritage is under attack and because of the rising threat of terrorist groups and the Black Market, the call to protect art and sites of historical significance is critically urgent now more than ever. With the destruction of thousands of cultural heritage sites and the rampant illicit trade of antiquities, many museums in the United States have begun responding by creating publicly accessible databases of their archaeological and ancient art acquisitions to ensure complete transparency in their acquisitions policies. Using these tools, museums are able to update and align their acquisitions policies to deter the illicit trade of antiquities, and focus on due diligence of their existing collections. The goal of this thesis is to determine how acquisitions policies have changed, and to advocate for museums to review their existing policies and ethical standards. In addition to presenting a comprehensive review of institutional acquisition policies and international laws, this thesis provides a systematic analysis of 154 objects acquired since 2008 by three major US institutions (Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Art Institute of Chicago, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art) registered within the Registry of New Acquisitions of Archaeological Material and Works of Ancient Art (NAAMW AA) and compiled through the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD).