Recently, the Allard Pierson Museum has been faced with claims from the Crimea and from Kiev with regard to objects from the exhibition ‘The Crimea: Gold and Secrets from the Black Sea’ (De Krim – Goud en Geheimen van de Zwarte Zee).
On the basis of loan for use agreements, four museums in the Crimea are of the opinion that the objects that they lent out should be returned to them once the exhibition ends. The Ukrainian
Ministry of Culture, however, states that these objects are state property and should be returned to Kiev.
As mentioned in a previous statement, this matter is both unique and complex. The Allard Pierson Museum felt it was important to investigate the matter thoroughly and find a solution.
To this end, an extensive legal investigation has been conducted of late in which a detailed analysis has been made, inter alia, of the choice of law, applicable legislation, international treaties and the loan for use agreements themselves.
As yet, the outcome of this investigation has not lead to the Allard Pierson Museum being able to make a choice and agree to a claim by one of the parties. Such a decision – and the subsequent handover of the objects to the party concerned – would almost certainly result in a claim by the other party, a substantial risk for the Allard Pierson Museum.
For this reason, the Allard Pierson Museum has decided (for the time being) to not make a decision as to which of the parties the disputed objects should be handed over to. The Allard Pierson Museum will abide by a ruling by a qualified judge or arbitrator, or further agreement between parties.
The disputed objects will be safely stored until more becomes clear.
Because the matter might be adjudicated on, the Allard Pierson Museum will refrain from any further comment.
The objects were found in tombs in the Crimea, so I can understand why the Russians would like them to return there ... but many of the fabulous finds from the Crimea are not displayed in local museums, but in the Hermitage. A small selection of ancient objects from the "Northern Black Sea Coast" can be found here on the Hermitage web site; and when I was digging up comparanda for the Vergina objects excavated in the Crimea, those too were all in St Petersburg.
Ancient Crimean gold caught in legal limbo - The Art Newspaper:
The show features ancient jewellery and armour on loan from five Ukrainian museums, including four in the Crimean peninsula. ...
“The objects from the Kerch museum, which is in Crimea, have been exhibited in Holland and are supposed to return,” Piotrovsky told local media in St Petersburg. “A difficult problem arises. On the one hand, legally, everything is against the [Kerch] museum. On the other hand, these objects belong to the museum. We will work out an agreement on how the museum will get them back,” Piotrovsky said.
Valentina Mordvintseva, an archaeologist from the Crimean branch of the Institute of Archaeology of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, who helped organise the show, says it explores “the interaction and diversity of cultures on the Crimean peninsula in the period from the seventh century BC to the seventh century AD”. Highlights include a group of first century AD Chinese lacquer boxes found at a Crimean burial site along with bronze Roman vessels: “This is the westernmost find of Chinese lacquer in the world, which indicates the long-distance contact of various ancient peoples; for all practical purposes, it shows the ties between two great empires—China and Rome.”
Dutch museum holds on to disputed Crimean gold for time being - The Art Newspaper:
Russia's culture ministry released a statement on 21 August about the collection. It called the Dutch museum's decision "understandable" but stressed that the objects are "part of the inalienable cultural heritage of the Crimean peninsula" and that "museums must remain outside of politics".
This article in Al Jazeera has more details about the loans, and a lot more about the reasons Dutch-Russian diplomatic relations have deteriorated: 'Cold war' over Crimean gold - Features - Al Jazeera English
The photos used above are from the museum web site, and more objects loaned - including a vase with griffons that should please David Meadows - and be found in this PDF extract of the catalogue ....