OCTOBER 6 - 11, 1997


- An act of faith: buying unknown antiques
- query: info on conservation of book material during transportation
and exhibition in museums and libraries
-THE HEIST AND THE HUNT. (Isabella Stewart Gardner)
- Restorers' art saves a Rembrandt ( Rembrandt's Danae back on public
display after being vandalized in 1985.)
- Fresh quakes hit Italy, more damage to St. Francis basilica
- Re: 5,000 volume Everglades National Park library in poor
. (storage facilities at Gettysburg National Military Park
are bad)
- Gov't again calls for return of Parthenon marbles
- Gallery vows to expose fake Van Gogh art
- The House voted today to seriously weaken the Antiquities Act of
1906 (the law that originally protected such national treasures as
Denali, Acadia, and the Grand Canyon National Parks)
- Alleged partner indicted in U.S. for Baku art theft (trying to sell
$10 million worth of stolen drawings that were part of a German
- South Africa seeks its share of Clive's treasure trove
- Society to retain artifacts, for now (The Historical Society of Pa.
had sought to unload thousands of objects. The proposal met with
- Two nabbed with Peruvian antiquity
- Antiquities smugglers arrested, artifacts confiscated
- U.S. Park Service spends $333,000 on outhouse
- Klimt painting sells for 14.5 million ( the most expensive picture
sold in the world this year)
- Vandalism
- Drying frozen books
- Disaster preparedness and management priorities
- Assisi battles to save the frescoes
- Unearthed tombs tell tale of a rich civilization (A mixture of good
and bad news)
- FBI agents strike gold in Philadelphia. Acting undercover, they
were to buy a Peruvian artifact. (See also yesterday's report)
- RE: Drying frozen books
- RE: UKIC publication (see yesterday's report)
- RE: Disaster preparedness and management priorities
An act of faith: buying unknown antiques
By Daniel Grant, Globe Correspondent, 10/05/97
Like walking on water, buying antiques requires a lot of faith. One
has to trust one's tastes, the dealer and the market, but relying so
much on faith when purchasing something valuable can understandably
make potential collectors a bit nervous. What if the Queen Anne chair
was actually made fewer than 100 years ago? What if the grandfather
clock was so thoroughly restored that it cannot be viewed as an
authentic antique? These concerns would naturally be less troublesome
for those who just like the look of the object. However, antiques -
which, by industry definition, are objects more than 100 years old as
opposed to pieces that are newer (say, a 50-year-old Coke bottle) and
considered to be ''collectibles'' - have become so sought after these
days, and prices for them can go so high, that few collectors have
the luxury of making a mistake that impulse buying can lead to.
It has become increasingly important, first, to learn something about
the objects that one would like to buy before making the purchase
and, second, to understand both how the antiques trade works and
what one's legal protections are. On both counts, there are painless
(and actually fun) ways of getting that information. Most museums
with fine and decorative arts collections, for instance, have
extensive collections of books on antique objects, and the curators
of these objects will also make time to talk with potential and
current collectors (by appointment). University libraries also have
many of the same books, although not always the same personnel.
Museum curators can also direct people to reputable dealers in the
kinds of objects one wishes to buy as well as to antiques appraisers
(some curators also do appraising themselves as a moonlighting
activity). Eventually, potential buyers should visit the galleries
and dealers selling the types of objects they are interested in
owning. It is useful to see how prices compare from one gallery to
the next -often, one gallery sells to another, and the prices show
that markup. As one becomes more serious, it is wise to examine
auction records for works of the kind and caliber that one wishes to
purchase to see at what prices they sold, and museum libraries
usually have books of up-to-date auction records. Gallery prices will
probably be somewhat higher than at auction as many galleries buy
their works directly from auctioneers and as auction houses primarily
trade in estates where ''distressed sale'' prices
are lower. Finally, potential collectors need to find a dealer
they can trust, which is the hardest thing, and it is especially
important for buyers who are not particularly knowledgeable about
when and what to buy as well as at what price. It should be pointed
out that antiques dealers are not licensed by any of the states or by
the federal government, and anyone can hang out a shingle claiming to
be one. Again, museum curators are a good source of information on
who is reputable, and there are a number of respected associations of
(or that include) antiques dealers that require their members to meet
certain standards of expertise and honesty. Among these are the Art
and Antique Dealers League of America (353 East 78th St., New York,
NY 10021; telephone 212-879-7558), Antiques Dealers Association of
America (Box 35, Green Farms, CT 06436; telephone 203-259-3844),
Antiques Dealers Association of California (3232 Sacramento St., San
Francisco, CA 94115; telephone 415-567-9898), Connecticut Antique
Dealers Association (140 Shepard's Knoll Drive, Hamden, CT 06514;
telephone 203-288-4356), Maine Antique Dealers Association
(105 Mighty St., Gorham, ME 04038; telephone 207-839-4855), National
Antique and Art Dealers Association of America (15 East 57th St., New
York, NY 10022; telephone 212-826-9707), National Association of
Dealers in Antiques (Box 421, Barrington, IL 60011; telephone
312-381-7096), New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association (RFD 1, Box
305C, Tilton, NH 03276; telephone 603-286-4908), Vermont
Antique Dealers Association (55 Allen St., Rutland, VT 05701;
telephone 802-773-8630), and the Antique Appraisers Association of
America (11361 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, CA 92643; telephone
714-530-7090). These and other associations can provide collectors
with information on member dealers. Satenig St. Marie, executive
director of the Antique Dealers Association of America, noted that
the most prestigious shows are ones that are fully ''vetted'' - that
is, every object on sale has been authenticated by a committee of
specialists (one committee for each category of object, such as
Oriental rugs or furniture). Every object in these shows will have a
label indicating what it is, its age (approximately when made),
origin (where it was made) and condition (has it been slightly or
greatly restored at some point in its history). There clearly are
many fakes on the market, some of which are intentional - as when
someone makes up a piece from scratch using old wood and handles, for
instance, in order to deceive a buyer - while others are simply
misattributed. The rage for Georgian (18th-century English) furniture
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in England and the United
States led many carpenters to build copies of these chairs and
tables. These copies were not originally meant to fool anyone, and
the trained eye can identify them for the more modern techniques of
construction, but almost a century later their owners don't know the
difference, and many offer them as original Georgian. According to
Edwin Carr, president of the Maine Antique Dealers Association,
buyers should examine supposedly old pieces of furniture for what
holds them together (nails, old- or new-looking, or dowels and glue)
and whether or not the sides fit together with dove-tailed sections
(often older) or triangular miter joints (often newer). Potential
buyers should also check the edges and surfaces of the object, as
older pieces usually have lost their sharp corners, and the top of a
table may not be quite as flat as one that was more recently made.
The stain of a recently stained piece of wood will also not be as
deep in case one spots a scratch. A large problem with fakes is the
amount of restoration that has been done to it over the years.
Heat, light, and humidity take a great toll on antiques, causing
cracks in the wood and drying up the glue that holds everything
together. The most valuable pieces are ones that are solid and
contain all their original surface sheen, glue, edges, and
ornamentation. Minor repairs, such as a replaced brass knob or an
area of moulding that broke off, would take away slightly from the
price. Major repairs, such as new legs on a chair or a new drawer
front, in which the original design is still quite evident would take
away even more from the price. Antique components of other pieces
that have been assembled to form an object that did not previously
exist, however, moves one closer to the area of fakes. Here, one pays
for antiquization, not an antique itself, and the price for this kind
of object should reflect its lack of authenticity. Under the Warranty
of Authenticity, which exists in the Uniform Commercial Code (adopted
in every state but Louisiana), an object must be what the seller
claims it to be. A Georgian chair that is actually Victorian must be
taken back by the dealer for the amount paid for it if the sale was
based on the item being genuine. When there is a disagreement about
what was said about the object or a dispute over its authenticity,
the matter may have to be settled in a court of law. The statue of
limitations also requires the buyer to inform the seller of the
object not being genuine within three years of the purchase. For that
reason, it is advisable for collectors of more expensive objects to
have the pieces appraised within three years by a recognized
appraiser or specialist in the field.
This story ran on page M29 of the Boston Globe on
10/05/97. (c) Copyright 1997 Globe Newspaper Company.
- query: info on conservation of book material during transportation
and exhibition in museums and libraries
Masahiro Yoshida <>
Chemical Engineer & Computer Systems Town: México, D.F.
Country: México
I will like to have more info on conservation of books
material durind transportation and exhibition on museum and librarys
e-mail: -- Unico de México Av. Revolución 121
casa A Col. Tacubaya cp 11850 México, D.F.
tels/fax: (525) 273 9921
From the start, the heist has riveted and dumbfounded the art world,
with fresh chapters unfolding as if the perps had serialized the
tale. Last week came the most tantalizing clues so far in the 1990
theft of $300 million in artwork--including three Rembrandts, five
Degas and a Vermeer--from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
On Friday the Boston Herald published several black-and-white
photographs that purported to show some of the stolen paintings. And
the Herald said that in collaboration with ABC News, it had near
certain proof that the Rembrandts in the photos were authentic. The
paper pointed to some minute but telltale signs--a stretcher mark
here, a frayed edge there--that bolstered its stunning claim. But
there were also some holes in the Herald's report. All the "art
experts" who testified to the photographs' reliability refused to be
identified. The paper said that along with the photos, it had
obtained a pile of tiny chips of paint, but acknowledged it could not
authenticate "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that the chips came from
the stolen works. Furthermore, its source for the photos was one
William P. Youngworth III, a 38-year-old ex-con and antiques dealer
who is on his way to jail again on a car-theft conviction. Officials
from the Gardner asked to see the photos for themselves and demanded
that the Herald and ABC News drop their request for exclusive rights
to report on the museum's analysis. At week's end the drama had
degenerated to a squabble among lawyers for all parties. The theft
took place in the dead of night on March 18, 1990, when two men
dressed as police broke into the Gardner, tied up two museum guards
and dismantled the security system. They left with 13 objects,
including two certified masterworks--Vermeer's The Concert and
Rembrandt's Storm on the Sea of Galilee. Strangely, the robbers chose
not to lift the museum's most prized piece, Titian's Rape of Europa.
The thieves' improbable connoisseurship set off speculation that the
heist was a botched assignment ordered up by a wealthy collector. But
no leads panned out. Then, in August, Herald reporter Tom Mashberg
claimed he had been escorted to a dark warehouse and shown by
flashlight Rembrandt's signature on Storm on the Sea of Galilee. The
assignation was brokered by Youngworth, who then told ABC's Nightline
he could deliver the stolen works in exchange for the museum's $5
million reward and the release of his pal Myles J. Connor Jr., a
thief who was in prison for selling cocaine and transporting stolen
art. Youngworth says he and Connor had nothing to do with the
original crime, and he has a pretty good alibi: both were in prison
at the time. Youngworth now faces up to 15 years in prison on the
auto-theft conviction. Last month he met privately with Gardner
directors and reportedly extracted a $10,000 down payment on a reward
for promising to produce some of the stolen goods. He will probably
try to negotiate down his sentence in exchange for more details. All
things considered, that may be a small price to pay for figuring out
who pulled off the biggest art heist in American history.
--Reported by Rod Paul /Boston
Restorers' art saves a Rembrandt ( Rembrandt's Danae back on public
display after being vandalised in 1985.)
A Lithuanian artist threw nearly a litre of sulphuric acid at the
surface of the 17th-century masterpiece and slashed it with a knife
because he was angered by the display of a naked woman. An infra-red
image shows the extent of the damage, including streaks in parallel
lines across the body of the main character. Since the attack, the
painting has undergone extensive repair on the restorers' operating
table. The work was done in close consultation with German experts.
The restorers removed all traces of acid and two gashes of the knife
are scarcely visible. The painting, which is signed and dated 1636,
was a rare subject for Rembrandt. He painted few nudes; female nudes
were generally uncommon in Dutch 17th-century art.
Fresh quakes hit Italy, more damage to St. Francis basilica
Associated Press Writer
ASSISI, Italy (AP) - More earthquakes shook central Italy today,
sending people fleeing into the streets and inflicting new damage on
areas hard hit by a pair of strong temblors last week, including the
Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. "People can't take it anymore,"
said Giancarlo Sagramola, a civil defense official in Fabriano, where
one desperate man jumped from a second-story window. He was unhurt
but at least six other people were injured in the first and strongest
of today's quakes, which struck at 10:55 a.m. with a magnitude of
4.8. A series of aftershocks followed, including a quake with a
magnitude of 3.5 at 1:04 p.m. and another almost as strong about 40
minutes later. The temblors struck as experts were cataloging pieces
of rubble in the famed basilica and studying ways to reinforce its
structure. The damaged ceiling survived today's shocks, said the Rev.
Pasquale Magro, head of the basilica's museum. But more stones fell
from the damaged south transept facade and showers of plaster rained
down inside. The central regions of Umbria and Marche, as well as
neighboring Perugia and Tuscany, have trembled with aftershocks since
the strong quakes on Sept. 26, when part of the basilica's vaulted
ceiling collapsed. Four people were killed and two of the cathedral's
treasured frescoes were reduced to rubble. In all, 11 people and the
quake damaged many other historical monuments, some of which, like
the basilica, sustained more damage today. Italy's civil defense
chief, Nicola Barberi, said the strength of today's temblors caught
authorities by surprise. The head of Italy's National Institute of
Geophysics, Enzo Boschi, said buildings weakened by last week's big
quakes should be evacuated until they can be inspected again.
He said it was impossible to predict when or if more aftershocks
would hit the region. As a precaution, authorities evacuated Assisi's
hospital. The new quakes complicated the work of relief teams who
have been trying to find shelter for people driven from their homes
and to assess the toll on the area's treasures. Culture Minister
Walter Veltroni said the damage to historical monuments would amount
to millions of dollars. Assisi is one of Italy's most visited areas,
and the entire region is dotted with beautiful, well-preserved
medieval towns. The epicenter of the strongest quake today was about
20 miles from Assisi in Col Fiorito, a town heavily damaged last
week. The ANSA news agency said the badly weakened medieval bell
tower in Nocera Umbra collapsed in the new quake. In Foligno, an
ancient bell tower in the main square was leaning so badly today that
emergency workers said they would have to demolish it. The epicenter
of last week's quakes, the strongest of which had a magnitude of 5.5,
was near Foligno. Its badly damaged center has been closed off and
its residents evacuated.
Re: 5,000 volume Everglades National Park library in poor condition.
(storage facilities at Gettysburg National Military Park are bad)
David Hedrick <>
Is this problem endemic to the every unit of our National Parks? The
storage facilities at Gettysburg National Military Park are so bad and
the likelihood of obtaining any funding for a remedy so remote that
the park is in the process of selecting a public sector 'partner' to
build a state- of-the-art museum. The library at Gettysburg National
Military Park is 'closed' for at least the next three years while the
collection is cataloged.
Are the Park officials to be blamed for this sorry state of affairs?
ABSOLUTELY NOT. The blame rests clearly on the shoulders of our
elected Representatives and Senators who for the most part are too
short sighted to properly fund and support any aspect of our national
heritage. The rest of us - citizens of the United States - have got to
take our share of blame for this too. We keep electing and re-electing
those moral midgets to lead us.
David Hedrick
Special Collections Librarian
Gettysburg College
Gov't again calls for return of Parthenon marbles
Athens, 07/10/1997 (ANA)
The European Parliament's cultural committee should intervene on
behalf of Greece to have the Parthenon marbles returned from Britain,
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said yesterday.
He delivered the appeal at the meeting of the committee's members in
Thessaloniki. "The issue concerns two member-states and our position
is rather delicate. Despite this, we shall return to this, discussing
the issue at the committee," Committee President Peter Pecks said.
PASOK Eurodeputy Angela Kokola said that the Europarliament's role
was more consultative, while decision-making is the responsibility of
the European Commission and the European Council.
The eight-member committee will continue its meeting today.
(Times of London)
Gallery vows to expose fake Van Gogh art
AMID recent claims that many Van Gogh paintings hanging in some of
the world's most famous galleries are fakes, the MusThetae d'Orsay said
yesterday that it would investigate the collection of Dr Gachet,
who cared for the painter during the weeks before his suicide in
1890. The museum has promised to make public the results of the
detailed study, which will include infra-red reflectography and
ultra-violet authenticity tests, and will next year exhibit the
paintings donated by the doctor and his children, including such
disputed works as the Portrait of Doctor Gachet and The Man with the
Pipe, the artist's only etching. The decision comes a month after the
French magazine Connaissance des Arts alleged that the Portrait of
Doctor Gachet, owned by the MusThetae d'Orsay, was a fake, possibly
painted by the doctor's son, Paul. Yesterday Ben it Landais, a French
art expert who was interviewed in Le Figaro, argued that The Man with
the Pipe, the original etched copper plate of which is also in the
museum, was another "appalling forgery". The Van Gogh fake crisis
began last autumn when scholars cited in an article in the Art
Newspaper questioned the authenticity of up to 100 Van Gogh works.
The MusThetae d'Orsay has a collection of 23 paintings by Van Gogh,
including the masterpieces Vincent's Room in Arles, Starry Night,
Self-Portrait and The Church at Auvers-sur-Oise. Anne Distel, the
museum's curator, said yesterday: "It would be imprudent to respond
too quickly to this sort of controversial debate. We cannot prejudge
things now." Although Van Gogh died destitute, his paintings were
already fetching huge sums only 20 years after his death. As his work
did not sell in his lifetime, there is virtually no commercial proof
of authorship.
NPCA Press Release on Antiquities Act
CONTACT: Vicki Paris, (202) 223-6722, ext. 120
NPCA Urges Senate to Preserve Law Responsible for Grand Canyon,
Denali, and Acadia National Parks
Washington, D.C. -- The House voted today to seriously weaken the
Antiquities Act of 1906, the law that originally protected such
national treasures as Denali, Acadia, and the Grand Canyon. In a
close 229-197 vote, the House approved H.R. 1127 ("The National
Monument Fairness Act"). The bill limits the power given to the
President to proclaim public lands "national monuments" under the
Antiquities Act in order to withdraw them from harmful actions that
threaten the historic and scientific resources of the areas.
Backlash against President Clinton's designation in September 1996 of
the new Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument led to
Representative Jim Hansen's (R-UT) introduction of H.R. 1127 and its
companion bill in the Senate (S. 477) introduced by Utah Senator Orrin
Hatch (R). Hansen's bill obstructs presidential proclamation of
monuments exceeding 50,000 acres in a single state in a single year,
through a cumbersome consultation process with governors, state
legislatures, and prior congressional approval. Under H.R. 1127, any
monument declared by the President would be abolished after two years
if it was not explicitly approved by a joint resolution of Congress.
If the bill were to pass Congress, it is likely that it would be
vetoed by President Clinton.
"If the Utah delegation is unhappy with the designation of the Grand
Staircase - Escalante National Monument, they should address that
issue rather than gutting the act that created so many of our
treasured national parks," said Carol F. Aten, Executive Vice
President of National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA).
The Antiquities Act is one of the most effective tools available for
the preservation of public lands threatened by exploitation and
development. It was enacted to thwart the looting of unique historic
and cultural artifacts from lands in the Southwest originally
inhabited by early cliff dwellers.
Since then, the Act has led to the proclamation of 105 National
Monuments. However, Congress has a full range of powers to complement
the Act, including the authority to determine monument funding,
management policy, and even the reversal of monument designations.
The Act, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, has been used by 13
Democratic and Republican Presidents to ensure the initial protection
of federal lands that were subsequently approved by Congress as Zion,
Petrified Forest, Glacier Bay, Olympic, and Death Valley National
The National Parks and Conservation Association is America's only
private nonprofit citizen organization dedicated solely to
protecting, preserving and enhancing the U.S. National Park System.
An association of "Citizens Protecting America's Parks," NPCA was
founded in 1919 and today has nearly 500,000 members.
Note to Editor: A complete list of monuments designated under the
Antiquities Act is attached.
Admiralty Island (Carter)
Aniakchak (Carter)
Becharof (Carter)
Bering Land Bridge (Carter)
Cape Krusenstern (Carter)
Denali (Carter)
Gates of the Artic (Carter)
Glacier Bay (Coolidge)
Katmai (Wilson)
Kenai Fjords (Carter)
Kobuk Valley (Carter)
Lake Clark (Carter)
Misty Fjords (Carter)
Noatak (Carter)
Old Kassan (Wilson) (abolished 1955)
Russell Cave (Kennedy)
Sitka (Taft)
Wrangell-St. Elias (Carter)
Yukon-Charley (Carter)
Yukon Flats (Carter)
Casa Grande (Wilson)
Chiricahua (Coolidge)
Grand Canyon I (T. Roosevelt)
Grand Canyon II (Hoover)
Marble Canyon (Johnson)
Montezuma (T. Roosevelt)
Navajo (Taft)
Organ Pipe Cactus (FDR)
Papago Saguaro (Taft) (abolished 1950)
Petrified Forest (T. Roosevelt)
Pipe Spring (Harding)
Saguaro (Hoover)
Sunset Crater (Hoover)
Tonto (T. Roosevelt)
Tumacacori (T. Roosevelt)
Tuzigoot (FDR)
Walnut Canyon (Wilson)
Wupatki (Coolidge)
Cabrillo (Wilson)
Channel Islands (FDR)
Cinder Cone (T. Roosevelt) (now Lassen Volcanic NP)
Death Valley (Hoover)*
Devils Postpile (Taft)
Joshua Tree (FDR)
Lassen Peak (T. Roosevelt) (now Lassen Volcanic NP)
Lava Beds (Coolidge)
Muir Woods (T. Roosevelt)
Pinnacles (T. Roosevelt)
Black Canyon of the Gunnison (Hoover)
Colorado (Taft)
Dinosaur (Wilson)*
Great Sand Dunes (Hoover)
Holy Cross (Hoover) (abolished 1950)
Hovenweep (Harding)*
Wheeler (T. Roosevelt) (abolished 1950)
Yucca House (Wilson)
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (Eisenhower)*
Castillo de San Marcos (Coolidge)
Fort Jefferson (FDR) (now Dry Tortugas NP)
Fort Matanzas (Coolidge)
Santa Rosa Island (FDR) (abolished 1946)
Fort Pulaski (Coolidge)
Effigy Mounds (Truman)
Craters of the Moon (Coolidge)
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (Eisenhower)*
Sieur de Monts (Wilson) (nucleus of Acadia)
Ackia Battlegrounds (FDR) (part of Natchez Trace Pkwy.)
Big Hole (Taft) (later became a National Battlefield)
Lewis and Clark (T. Roosevelt) (abolished 1937)
Verendrye (Wilson) (abolished 1956)
Scotts Bluff (Wilson)
Edison Lab (Eisenhower) (now Edison NHS)
Aztec Ruins (Harding)
Bandelier (Wilson)
Capulin Mt. (Wilson) (now Capulin Volcano NM)
Carlsbad (Coolidge) (nucleus of Carlsbad Caverns)
Chaco Canyon (T. Roosevelt) (now Chaco Culture NHP)
El Morro (T. Roosevelt)
Gila Cliff Dwellings (T. Roosevelt)
Gran Quivira (Taft) (now Salinas Pueblo Missions NM)
White Sands (Hoover)
Death Valley (Hoover)*
Lehman Caves (Harding) (now Great Basin NP)
Father Millet Cross (Coolidge) (abolished 1956)
Statue of Liberty (Coolidge)
Mound City (Harding) (now Hopewell Culture NHP)
Oregon Caves (Taft)
Castle Pinckney (Coolidge) (abolished 1956)
Fossil Cycad (Harding) (abolished 1956)
Jewel Cave (T. Roosevelt)
Meriwether Lewis (Coolidge) (added to Natchez Trace Pkwy, 1961)
Arches (Hoover)
Bryce (Harding) (nucleus of Bryce Canyon NP)
Capitol Reef (FDR)
Cedar Breaks (FDR)
Dinosaur (Wilson)*
Grand Staircase Escalante (Clinton)
Hovenweep (Harding)*
Mukuntuweap (Taft) (nucleus of Zion NP)
Natural Bridges (T. Roosevelt)
Rainbow Bridge (Taft)
Timpanogos Cave (Harding)
Zion (FDR, R) (Incorporated in Zion NP)
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (Eisenhower)*
Buck Island Reef (Kennedy)
Mount Olumpus (T. Roosevelt) (nucleus of Olympic NP)
Devils Tower (T. Roosevelt)
Fort Laramie (FDR)
Jackson Hole (FDR) (incorporated in Grand Teton NP)
Shoshone (Taft) (abolished 1954)
* These National Monuments cross state boundaries and are listed for
each state in which it is located. NHP National Historical Park
NHS National Historic Site NM National Monument NP
National Park
Alleged partner indicted in U.S. for Baku art theft (trying to sell
$10 million worth of stolen drawings that were part of a German
NEW YORK, Oct 7 (Reuter) - A woman from Azerbaijan was indicted on
Tuesday for allegedly trying to sell $10 million worth of stolen
drawings that were part of a German collection that disappeared at
the end of the Second World War. The art resurfaced in 1993 in a
museum in Azerbaijan, was stolen and finally recovered last month in
a New York City hotel, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in
Manhattan. Natavan Aleskerova was arrested on Monday and charged in
an indictment unsealed on Tuesday, federal prosecutors said. Aydyn
Ali Ibragimov, believed to be her husband, also was indicted but is
still being sought. A third suspect, Masatsugu Koga, was arrested
when the 12 drawings were recovered in the Manhattan hotel on Sept.
9. He was allegedly negotiating a sale of the art to an undercover
agent, federal authorities said. Koga told authorities he was ill and
needed to sell the drawings to pay for a kidney transplant. He said
he bought the drawings in Baku, knowing they were stolen. He also
said he was working with an unidentified Russian business partner,
court documents said. The 12 drawings, by artists including Rembrandt
and Albrecht Duerer, were part of a collection moved in 1943 to a
castle in Germany from the Bremen Museum. Following the Soviet
capture of the castle, the art disappeared and did not resurface
until 1993 when the National Museum of Baku in Azerbaijan advertised
an exhibit. Shortly after German authorities saw the advertisement
and sought their return, the drawings were stolen from the Baku
museum, prosecutors said. Aleskerova and Ibragimov are charged with
the receipt, possession and sale of stolen goods and with conspiracy.
Federal authorities said if convicted, they each face a sentence of
up to 15 years in prison. ^REUTER@
Copyright 1997 Reuters Limited.
(Daily Telegraph London)
South Africa seeks its share of Clive's treasure trove
By Alec Russell in Johannesburg
SOUTH Africa is demanding its share of a hoard of antique coins that
it suspects may have been illegally salvaged off its coast from a
treasure trove belonging to Clive of India. Museum curators were both
delighted and dumbfounded when it was announced that 1,400 gold coins
lost in a shipwreck off the Eastern Cape nearly 250 years ago had
surfaced in London. The coins were lost in 1755 when the Dodington, a
merchant ship hired by Robert Clive to transport money for his
commercial ventures in India, sank shortly after rounding the Cap of
Good Hope. They are believed to be worth about 500,000.
Details of the proposed sale in London have stirred outrage in South
Africa, which believes that it is entitled to half. Clive, the clerk
turned soldier-adventurer whose victory at Plassey in 1757 was to
secure India for the Empire, withdrew the coins from the Bank of
England to bankroll his East India Company. After stashing them in a
chest in the Dodington's hold, he sailed in its sister ship and
reached India. But the Dodington hit a reef and foundered with the
loss of 247 lives, off Bird Island, a tiny, then deserted, outcrop
six miles from the Eastern Cape coast. After two centuries of
abortive salvage attempts, South African divers found the wreck 20
years ago but there was no sign of the coins. They continued
their search with what they thought was the only salvage permit for
the area. Along with officials from the National Monuments
Council, which issues the relevant paperwork, they were startled to
hear that Spink's, the coin dealer, would be selling the missing
coins next month. The confusion has turned to indignation. John
Gribble, the council's maritime archaeologist, is leading what he
calls "delicate" negotiations with Spink's. "The South African divers
working on the site are pretty upset," he said yesterday. "We have
no record of any application for permits and it seems the salvagers,
whoever they were, did not tell the customs what they had found. The
law is clear. You have to have a permit to work on historical
wrecks." Local divers recall being approached last year by
Britons who wanted a briefing on South Africa's salvage law but no
one could have dived around the Dodington without being seen by the
permanent watchman on Bird Island. Jenny Bennie, a historian and
maritime archaeologist from the museum at Port Elizabeth, the
nearest town to the site, said: "There were 23 survivors shipwrecked
on Bird Island. Did one of them take the coins? There were only 1,400
of them, not a huge amount. It's very odd." A spokesman for Spink's
said yesterday that it had been advised to postpone the sale.
Society to retain artifacts, for now (The Historical Society of Pa.
had sought to unload thousands of objects. The proposal met
with flak).
By Stephan Salisbury
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has decided to withdraw a
petition seeking court approval for a controversial plan to dispose
of virtually all of the society's collection of art and artifacts.
Instead, Historical Society officials said yesterday, they have
decided to seek the court's blessing only when they have a specific
agreement for disposing of a specific object or group of objects.
Moreover, they added, there will be a renewed effort to seek
placement of the entire collection within the Philadelphia area.
The decision to withdraw the petition was approved by the society's
30-member board on Monday evening and comes in the wake of a public
outcry that greeted the disclosure of dispersal plans this summer.
In June, the society quietly filed a petition with Orphans' Court in
Philadelphia, which has jurisdiction over nonprofit institutions, for
permission to dispose immediately of five objects and to place the
rest of the vast collection in storage for three years. At some time
shortly after 2000, the petition said, the society would seek to
dispose of most of its 10,000 museum objects, retaining only a small
group of paintings and artifacts related to the society's history.
The petition stated that the society would seek to place the objects
in a proposed local ``history center.'' But no such center exists
and none is anywhere on the horizon. Such a radical surgery --
``deaccessioning,'' museum parlance -- was necessitated, society
officials said, by the institution's plan to reinvent itself as a
research library. There would not be room for care and maintenance of
such items as William Penn's writing desk or the wampum belt given to
him by the Leni-Lenape. Susan Stitt, society president, said
yesterday that broad plans to disperse the collection and focus on
library development have not changed. Withdrawal of the petition, she
said, amounted to an acknowledgment of ``greater interest'' on the
part of the public in the society's activities. Howard Lewis,
chairman of the society's board of governors, also acknowledged the
heightened ``interest'' and said it induced officials to ``reassess
and further explore'' various options ``to keep the art and artifacts
collection intact and in Philadelphia.'' ``This decision does not
affect the society's commitment to our tightened mission and
continued improvement as a special collections library.''
One board member, who asked for anonymity, said that board members
were concerned about the vague plans for disposing of ``the nameless
10,000 items.'' ``People also said that we were a public relations
disaster,'' the board member lamented. As part of its new library
focus, the society has also embarked on a $7.5 million renovation
project aimed at upgrading its building at 13th and Locust Streets.
Some percentage of money raised by the sale of objects was expected
to defray the cost of that renovation. Stitt said yesterday that the
decision to withdraw the petition would not upset renovation
plans. Nor would it derail active negotiations to sell some
high-profile and extremely valuable objects -- the court will be
petitioned on a case-by-case basis when any agreements are reached.
Talks are now under way for the sale of four items. One is a double
portrait of Gov. Thomas and Sarah Mifflin by colonial painter John
Singleton Copley, appraised in 1995 for $4 million. The society wants
to sell the painting, the only Copley portrait in the city, to the
Philadelphia Museum of Art. The other three items are Thomas
Jefferson's clock and thermometer, plus a Rembrandt Peale portrait of
Jefferson's friend, the botanist Jose Francisco, Abbe Correa de
Serra. All three have been on loan to Monticello, Jefferson'sVirginia
estate, for about three years, and the society is negotiating a sale
to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, which owns and operates
Monticello. The clock and thermometer were appraised in 1992 for
$775,000 and $25,000, respectively, and the portrait was valued in
1994 at $20,000. The Jefferson artifacts and the Copley portrait
were named in the original court petition, along with a huge marble
statue of actor Edwin Forrest, appraised in 1986 at $60,000. The
society wants to give the statue to Freedom Theatre. Benjamin
Hammond, a board member who resigned earlier this year as a result of
the dispersal plans and other issues, said yesterday that the
decision to withdraw the petition was ``a very positive first step.''
``A next step would be to evaluate the administrative leadership and
the long-range plan,'' he said.
Two nabbed with Peruvian antiquity
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 9 (UPI) _ Two men have been charged
with trying to sell a pre-Incan gold battle ornament that was
allegedly acquired from an archaeological site by former Peruvian
President Alan Garcia Perez. Court papers filed by the FBI allege the
suspects acquired the treasure from a relative of Garcia, who was
given the artifact by the former president after he left office.
The FBI have charged 31-year-old Orlando Mendez and
57-year-old Denis Garcia of Miami, Florida with smuggling
and conspiracy. One of the suspects told undercover agents he was
able to bring the piece into the United States through a friend
who works at a foreign consulate. An FBI spokeswoman tells United
Press International its too early to determine if there is a link
between former President Garcia and the conspiracy to sell the gold
backflap, which the suspects say was taken from the royal
tombs in Sipan, Peru. Associate curator Clark Erickson at the
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology says
the piece, which he has personally examined, could be one
of the many artifacts looted from the site. Erickson says Walter
Alva, the Peruvian archeologist who heads the dig at the royal tombs,
secured the site from looters who originally uncovered it, and would
never have made a gift of any artifact. A person at the Peruvian
embassy who did not want to be named says that under Peruvian law,
people are allowed to privately own national treasures, but cannot
take them out of the country. Erickson says that Garcia has many
enemies who would lie to implicate him in a scandal. (Written by
Chris Hawke, New York)
Copyright 1997 by United Press International.
Antiquities smugglers arrested, artifacts confiscated
Athens, 09/10/1997 (ANA)
Antiquities smugglers in possession of five statues depicting the
ancient goddess Artemis, all dug up in a rural area of Thessaloniki,
were arrested by police when they attempted to sell the artifacts.
Police arrested Georgios Triantafyllou, 60, on Tuesday after finding
three parts of the statues and two parts from busts of the same
goddess in the basement of his bar in Liti, Thessaloniki.
Archaeologists said the findings are priceless and date back t o the
2nd century BC.
Police said the statues were found 12 years ago at the location
"Tessari" in the rural region of Lagino, Thessaloniki by Nikos
Leloudis, 44, and Apostolos Polyzoudis, 44, who hid them in the
formers' stall.
They gave them to Triantafyllou last May to sell, according to
U.S. Park Service spends $333,000 on outhouse
PHILADELPHIA, Oct 8 (Reuters) - The National Park Service has come
up with an innovative way to spend $333,000 -- build an outhouse.
That is how much the agency paid to design and build a two-hole
facility with no running water at the Delaware Water Gap National
Recreation Area in eastern Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Inquirer
reported Wednesday. The outhouse, described by critics as a Taj Mahal
among privies, has a gabled slate roof, cottage-style porches, a
tapered cobblestone masonry foundation in the fashion of Frank Lloyd
Wright and an interior design color-coordinated with the green of the
hemlocks outside. The capstones that serve as porch railings are made
of quarried Indiana limestone. The clapboard siding is 1-inch cedar.
And slate for the roof comes not from Pennsylvania's ample stock, but
from Vermont. The building also is earthquake proof, having a 29-inch
thick foundation wall. Tourists have mistaken the outhouse for a
visitors' center. When shown pictures of the building, Rep. Joseph
McDade, the local congressman who sits on the House Appropriations
Committee that approves Park Service spending, found it hard to
believe that all he was looking at was a privy. Meant to last at
least 50 years with little or no maintenance, the outhouse was the
product of two years of design work by more than a dozen Park Service
designers, architects and engineers. It opened for service in May
1996. ``Frankly, that's what we're paying for toilets,'' Dennis
Galvin, deputy director of the National Park Service, told the
Inquirer. ^REUTER@
Copyright 1997 Reuters Limited.
(Daily Telegraph London)
Klimt painting sells for 14.5 million ( the most expensive picture
sold in the world this year)
By Godfrey Barker
GUSTAV Klimt's view of Schloss Kammer in the Salzburg lakes in 1909
became the most expensive picture sold in the world this year
when it soared to 14.5 million at Christie's yesterday. The picture
achieved the highest price for a work of art in England since 1988
and the third dearest picture ever sold in Britain - surpassed only
by Van Gogh's Sunflowers (24.2 million) and Picasso's Acrobat.
The buyer was anonymous but many among the 800 bidders thought they
knew who he was: Ronald Lauder, doyen of the Estee Lauder cosmetics
empire in New York. The underbidder sat in the third row. She was
Renee Price, of the Galerie Uterman in Dortmund, well known in art
circles as a friend of Gustav Klimt's other wealthy patron, Dr Rudolf
Leopold, of Vienna. Lauder and Leopold did battle in New York last
May when another of Klimt's Austrian lakes views came up at
Sotheby's. Leopold won then at 9.07 million but Lauder had his
revenge yesterday. The tense bidding started at 3.7 million and rose
swiftly in 200,000 steps after 4 million. A third bidder,
speculated by many dealers to be Baroness Thyssen of Madrid, dropped
out at 6 million to leave two rich men to argue. There was no pause
in the steady upward climb until Mrs Price firmly shook her head at
13.2 million (14.5 million with Christie's buyer's premium
included). The saleroom, most unusually for London, shook with
applause. In the last 10 years Klimt (1862-1918), who painted in
Vienna and Salzburg from the 1890s to the First World War, has become
as expensive as Picasso, Renoir, Monet and Modigliani. His rise began
at Sotheby's in 1987 with another view of his summer house at Schloss
Kammer, on an island in the Attersee which sold for 3.3 million.
Klimt passed through 7 million in 1994 and then 9 million last May.
Tim Bathurst, of art dealers Artemis, said: "14.5 million? It's
never too much for a masterpiece." Olivier Berggruen, another top
dealer, said: "A stunning price for a stunning picture." Not only was
the green and gold sun-shimmering landscape the easiest and sweetest
Klimt yet to come up for sale, it was also the last of this 1908-12
group still in private hands and it was in prime, almost untouched
condition. The white house is where Klimt retreated with Emilie
Floge, his mistress, and her two sisters from the heats of Vienna in
the summer. "This was the last Attersee masterpiece we can get for
auction but it may be the best," said Jussi Pylkannen, head of
Christie's modern picture department. The 14.5 million Klimt was the
highlight of a 32.5 million German art auction. Mueller's erotic
Gypsy Women by the Campfire, 1927, which narrowly avoided being
burned by Hitler, sold for 1.1 million. August Macke's colourful,
1914 cafe picture of A Couple at a Garden Table went for 2.09
million while Edvard Munch's 1913 Dorfstrasse at Kragero from the
happiest period of his unhappy life realised 660,000. Earlier Rudolf
von Alt's watercolour of the Skodagasse in Vienna, 1903, attracted 35
times its estimate at 221,500. It came from the Mauerbach Monastery
on the Danube where, for 52 years, Austria has stored paintings and
works of art which the Nazis looted from the Jews. Last October these
were sold (for the first time) for the benefit of the Jewish
communities in Vienna.
From: Alan Phenix <>
Subject: Vandalism
Mark Clarke is correct in noting that there was a project done at the
Courtauld Institute a few years ago on dealing with chemical attacks
to paintings. The project was carried out by Lynne Harrison and its
purpose was to prepare a set of response protocols for dealing with a
potential chemical attack in the Institute's Galleries, plus the
preparation of a response kit. The response protocols recognised the
need for immediate action, for example, by security attendants; and
the outcome was a simple decision-making flow chart (plastic
laminated!) aimed at minimising damage. The general responses were
established on the basis of practical tests to examine the factors
influencing the degree of damage caused by a range of common corrosive
chemicals. The general policy of the Conservation & Technology Dept.
of Courtauld was that these protocols should not be widely circulated
for reasons of security, but I don't think that there would be any
problem with them going the National Gallery of Victoria [subject, of
course to copyright approval from Lynne Harrison]. I will pass on
contact information directly to Tom Dixon.
A few further words about chemical attacks are pertinent. Chemical
attacks were covered, along with many other agents of disastrous
decay, in a meeting held in London some years ago. As I understand
it, considerable preparations were made to compile a manual of
response protocols for dealing with all kinds of disaster, which was
to be published by UKIC. It is perhaps timely to express the view
that it is a shame that this publication has not yet seen the light of
day; 'The Disasters Manual' would provide a valuable reference source
for problems such as those raised by Tom Dixon. It is a shame also
that the considerable amount of work done by contributors to the
manual has not been rewarded by seeing the project come to fruition.
Perhaps someone from UKIC might comment on the state of play of
production of the 'The Disasters Manual'.
I think also a word of caution is necessary regarding the use of
water in the immediate response, particularly to an attack with
concentrated acid. This matter has been debated before, notably at the
IIC conference, Brussels 1990, and I do not wish to pass judgement on
the relative merits of water-quenching or not. It is, however,
important to relay an important observation from Lynne Harrison's
work; namely that the conservation history of a painting may
significantly influence its vulnerability to corrosive chemicals. In
particular, wax impregnation was found to very much retard damage
caused by strong acids. In relation to the attack on the Night Watch
referred to by Ton Cremers, the reported safe use of water, in this
instance, was undoubtedly aided by the fact that this picture is well
and truly wax-impregnated. For a non-wax impregnated painting, the
use of water to dilute and remove the acid might not be so benign.
Containment is a key factor in immediate response. Each event will
be different, and some crucial judgments must be made in the first
few minutes after the attack, based on observations on the nature of
the chemical involved, the extent of immediate damage and the risk of
further damage caused by remaining (mobile)chemical. The protocols
developed by Lynne Harrison were based on recognition of the need to
facilitate and inform the critical early decision-making, so as to
ensure that the damage is not actually exacerbated by the response. It
is essential to have a range of options at ones disposal.
Alan Phenix
FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics
From: Micki Ryan <>
Subject: Drying frozen books
This plea is posted by a non-conservator. During last winter's
flooding in the Northwest (USA), I responded to an archival client's
disaster and recovered most of his collection from a seriously flooded
basement. All is now well, except: 10 books, all 20th century, were
found completely under water and were wrapped tightly in freezer paper
(to preserve the shape), tied with cloth tape in two directions, and
placed in the family's home frost-free freezer while we worked like
crazy to salvage the large document collection. When I later looked
for disaster recovery advice on the books, little was available
referring to small personal collections of great emotional but little
intrinsic value. I have not found any archivists locally who have
actually dealt with the home-freezer treatment, although all agreed it
was an appropriate to the circumstances.
So far all I have done is unwrap a sample once in a while to check on
ice, dryness, mold, etc. They actually look quite good, but have not
"dried themselves out" in that environment, as I had read they would,
but instead get rather dampish as they thaw. It seems like placing
blotting paper between pages will distort the spines, so I haven't
continued that (also they become too wet to handle when out of the
freezer any length of time). The local conservators I contacted also
understood the best thing was to leave them alone and let them
freeze-dry under the natural cycle of the home freezer. All the
commercial freeze-dryers I have talked to will deal only with pallets
full of books, not ten individual ones. My plea is: what do I do now,
since they are not drying? No one is complaining, so I suppose they
could stay in another year if that is the advice. But, is this
supposed to happen? How long does it take?
Micki Ryan
Museum & Archival Services
Post Office Box 1309
Issaquah WA 98027
From: Alan G. Howell <>
Subject: Disaster preparedness and management priorities
A colleague I have works for a small institution in which management
will not acknowledge disaster planning as a priority. She has been to
training courses and is quite familiar with the consequences when one
is not prepared for a disaster. I would be interested in any
suggestions on how to convince management to spend time and money on
disaster planning. Any strategies, techniques or methods would be
most appreciated.
Tegan Henderson
Conservator, Conservation Access
State Library of New South Wales
Alan G. Howell
Preservation Manager
State Library of New South Wales
Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
+61 02 230 1679
Mobile phone: +61 0411 154 392 (mobile)
Fax: +61 2 9273 1265
From: "MSN" <>
To: "Alan G. Howell" <>
Send reply to: "Museum Security Mailinglist" <>
Copies to:
Disaster preparedness and management priorities
> From: Alan G. Howell <>
> Subject: Disaster preparedness and management priorities
> A colleague I have works for a small institution in which management
> will not acknowledge disaster planning as a priority. She has been to
> training courses and is quite familiar with the consequences when one
> is not prepared for a disaster. I would be interested in any
> suggestions on how to convince management to spend time and money on
> disaster planning. Any strategies, techniques or methods would be
> most appreciated.
> Tegan Henderson
> Conservator, Conservation Access
> State Library of New South Wales
Hello Alan and Tegan,
If you want to convince management about the necessity of disaster
planning I advice you to print this message and forward
it to those responsible. Three museum fires within one year, flooded
libraries in Poland, the incompetent reaction in Itay after the
erathquakes. The Museum Security Network (website and mailinglist has
'collected' over 400pp of information about incidents with cultural
property since December 1996 (within ten months!). You can read the
full archive at: or at:
The messages below are about museum fires.
At the Museum Security Website you can find samples of disaster and
salvage plans (and much more information in relevant fields)
Ton Cremers
JULY 23, 1997
- French firefighters douse Paris museum blaze
Fire broke out in an area of the roof that was being renovated!!
AGAIN: remember the Hofburg in Vienna, Windsor Castle, and the Royal
Academy (May 4, 1997). All these fires were caused by construction
work. This is the third museum fire within three months: Royal Academy
(May), Tate Gallery (June).....
French firefighters douse Paris museum blaze
By Christian Curtenelle
PARIS, July 23 (Reuter) - More than 100 firefighters battled half the
night to put out a blaze in a Paris architecture museum near the
Eiffel Tower on Wednesday. Two firefighters were injured working to
contain the flames in a wing of the Palais de Chaillot, containing the
Museum of French Monuments as well as a film library in one of the
capital's most famed tourist attractions. At least two explosions,
apparently of windows shattering from the intense heat, were heard
when the fire broke out. Initially, firefighters incorrectly said the
blaze was in another wing of the colonnaded palace containing the
Musee de l'Homme (Museum of Man) that traces human history with
statues, frescoes and costumes. ``It's still very hard to assess the
extent of the damage,'' a spokesman for the firefighters said after a
battle of more than three hours to bring the flames under control. The
fire was smouldering in parts of the building at the Trocadero square
overlooking the Seine river towards the Eiffel Tower. Thick smoke was
still complicating the task. But commander Philippe Lavoil, of the
Paris firefighters, said earlier in the night that the ``national
heritage in terms of art works, does not seem affected.'' The Museum
of French Monuments includes copies or models of some of France's most
famous buildings, including the great cathedrals of Notre-Dame and
Chartres, in a history of the nation's monumental architecture. Films
were taken out of the film library. The building also contains a
cinema museum with props including the skeletal frame of Mrs Bates
from the horror movie Psycho. About 120 fire fighters were called in
from all over Paris and brought the blaze under control shortly before
1 a.m. (1100 GMT Tuesday), a spokesman said. Two firefighters were
slightly injured and one was taken to hospital for treatment. Police
were ordered to carry out an investigation into the causes of the
fire, a police spokesman said. Initial evidence pointed to an
accidental blaze. The fire broke out in an area of the roof that was
being renovated. Culture Minister Catherine Trautmann visited the
scene while the fire was raging. The Trocadero, choked by thick smoke,
was sealed off to traffic. The director of the Palais de Chaillot
said: ``The frame of the roof window caught fire and that made the
glass explode. The frame fell on the museum collections...mouldings,
plasterwork. ``The museum has never known such a catastrophe,'' he
told Europe 1 radio. Copyright 1997 Reuters Limited
The fire (continued)
Forwarded from Museum-L
From: Boylan P <P.Boylan@CITY.AC.UK>
Overnight (European time) news has been coming through of a very
serious fire in the Paris Palais de Chaillot, part of the 1930s
Trocodero complex, which houses several national museums and other
cultural institutions, including the Musee de l'Homme, the national
maritime museum the new national cinematography museum and the
national museum of architecture and monumental sculpture. Early
international press reports (e.g. BBC World Service radio at 1am
British Summer Time) suggested that over 4,000 sq, metres (40,000
sq.ft.) of the Musee de l'Homme itself was on fire. However, the
latest reports are slightly less alarming, though this was a major
incident with a "Pumps 14" fire engine and crew attendance level for
over three hours, with water damage (at least) in the Musee des
Monuments de France.
Patrick J. Boylan
(Vice-President of ICOM)
City University, Frobisher Crescent, Barbican, London EC2Y 8HB, UK;
phone: +44-171-477.8750, fax:+44-171-477.8887; e-mail: World Wide Web site:
Date sent: Thu, 24 Jul 1997 14:39:24 GMT
From: Claudia Nicholson <claudian@CHC.STATE.SD.US>
Organization: SD State Historical Society
Subject: Re: again: museum fire caused by construction work
>Fire broke out in an area of the roof that was being renovated!!
>AGAIN: remember the Hofburg in Vienna, Windsor Castle, and the Royal
>Academy (May 4, 1997). All these fires were caused by construction
>work. This is the third museum fire within three months: Royal
>Academy (May), Tate Gallery (June).....
Add to these the Oskosh Public Museum in Wisconsin and the Louisiana
State Museum fires--each of which was caused by construction on the
roof. When is anybody going to get a clue about the dangers of
construction in historic buildings?
Claudia Nicholson
Curator of Collections
Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society
Date sent: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 16:13:00 GMT
From: Hodcarry <hodcarry@AOL.COM>
Organization: AOL
Subject: Re: again: museum fire caused by construction work
Anyone who has interested in museums and/or libraries for any length
of time can come up with a long list of damage and stolen items that
happened during construction. I know of one large art museum that had
a good security system-for example a computer kept track of who opened
locks in collection areas. But the museum did not assign folks to
watch construction workers who were removing walls. As a result they
lost quite a few objects, recovered most when a dealer alerted police
when offered some of the items for resale. I guess the point is
security costs including staff people on duty have to be built into
construction costs.
Date sent: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 07:54:55 -0800
From: Scott Reuter <reuter@EARTHLINK.NET>
Organization: Exhibit Safety Services
Subject: Re: again: museum fire caused by construction work
> Museum fires--each of which was caused by construction on the roof.
> When is anybody going to get a clue about the dangers of
> construction in historic buildings?
Sounds to me as if the Museum Staff were lax in developing strict
guidelines to prevent such a disaster. Certainly the construction firm
is responsible for the fire, but don't forget who was responsible for
the collection (I think we all learned that in our first museology
class). You will probably see more and more of this as museums
continue to turn themselves into theme parks to draw in more visitors.
Best Regards,
Scott Reuter
May 4 1997
Paintings rescued as fire rages in Royal Academy
by Jason Burke and Richard Woods
FIREMEN fought a blaze at the Royal Academy of Arts in central
London last night. Flames shot from the roof and black smoke
billowed down Piccadilly. Eight firefighting appliances, three
helicopters and more than 100 firemen from across London were
called to the scene shortly after 8pm. The fire is believed to
have started on a temporary roof towards the back of the building
where construction work was taking place. It spread down into the
building. Some firemen precariously worked their way across the
roof. Others were sent inside the building to protect the
contents. Officers were stationed on the first, second and third
floors to cover the exhibits with protective sheets and were
preparing to carry them out if the fire threatened to spread. In
two galleries up to 40 exhibits for the summer exhibition, whose
hanging was finalised last Friday, had to be moved. Two sets of
architectural drawings and models were destroyed. Some of the
228-year-old academy's valuable works were also threatened. The
academy, founded by Sir Joshua Reynolds, holds Tondo, a sculpture
by Michelangelo which 20 years ago was valued at more than 6m.
It regularly hosts touring exhibitions and currently has a
display of works by George Grosz, the German expressionist
painter, and an exhibition of political cartoons. During the past
month thousands of works were submitted by contemporary artists
for consideration for the summer exhibition. Last year more than
11,000 were submitted. The show usually attracts about 125,000
visitors. David Gordon, secretary of the academy, said there was
no sprinkler system in the building because water was just as
likely to cause damage as a small fire. More than 80 people were
inside the building attending a debate on contemporary art when
the alarm was raised. Sergeant Andrew Mellows of Vine Street
police station had spotted the smoke, climbed a building opposite
and saw that most of the roof was alight. Rachel Lumsden, a
29-year-old postgraduate at the academy, was inside the building.
"The debate had been going for about an hour and a half and was
very lively," she said. "At first we all ignored the alarm. But
when it went off a second time they cleared the building. I am
worried about my material; a lot of my work is back where the
fire is." Damage from the fire and the high-pressure water pumped
in to contain it is expected to run to hundreds of thousands of
pounds. Paintings in the galleries below the fire were affected
by the water, and fire damage to some of the walls was reported
to be "extensive". The academy is already facing a financial
crisis. Last year it had an annual deficit of 1m, accumulated
debts of 3m and an overdraft of 2.25m. It had not been helped
by a bursar who stole almost 400,000 from the institution to try
to win back the affections of his wife. In March he was jailed
for five years.
Britain's Tate Gallery shut by fire
09:30 a.m. Jun 14, 1997 Eastern
LONDON, June 14 (Reuter) - More than 40 works of art were removed
from London's Tate Gallery on Saturday after an electrical fire
broke out under one of the exhibition rooms. Smoke billowed into
the gallery and the public were evacuated after the blaze started
in an underground cable duct, a spokesman for the Tate said. None
of the art works was thought to be damaged but the gallery --
London's premier modern art venue -- was closed for the remainder
of the day.
From: "MSN" <>
To: "Museum Security Mailinglist" <>
Date sent: Sat, 11 Oct 1997 13:23:42 +0000
Subject: OCTOBER 11, 1997
Send reply to: "Museum Security Mailinglist" <>
Priority: normal
(Times of London)
Richard Owen in Assisi reports on efforts by engineers, working
under crumbling masonry, to win a vital race against time
Assisi battles to save the frescoes
The Order of Friars Minor Conventual, the branch of the Franciscans
which cares for the tomb of St Francis and the Basilica in Assisi, has
opened a bank account for those who wish to help. The bank is the
Cassa di Risparmio di Perugia. The account is titled "Basilica di San
Francesco in Assisi", account number: 26000/03 (code:
ITALIAN engineers yesterday started mounting an "extremely delicate
and dangerous" operation to shore up the Basilica of St Francis by
using giant cranes. They said that "one false move" would bring
tonnes of masonry crashing down into the church "with the force of a
bomb", destroying priceless frescoes by Cimabue and Lorenzetti, a
15th-century cloister and the irreplaceable basilica library. Fears
centre on the tympanum, a huge, recessed triangular pediment 120ft
up on the side of the basilica, above the left transept. It was
damaged in the double earthquake two weeks ago, which brought down
part of the vaulted ceiling inside the Upper Church, killing four
people. More of the tympanum, which weighs 70 tonnes, crumbled when
another earthquake rocked Assisi last Monday. The stones have given
way round the triple window at the centre of the pediment, leaving a
hole through which the sky is visible. "If it falls, either because
there is another quake or because we get the rescue operation wrong,
the damage will be irreparable," said Giorgio Croci, the engineer in
charge, as we watched the huge cranes manoeuvring into place. "The
tympanum will smash through the roof. We are living a nightmare: to
save our heritage, we are putting human life at risk. We have
agonised all week about what to do." Antonio Paolucci, the former
Minister of Culture who is overseeing the restoration at Assisi,
looks a worried man. "This is a race against time and the next
tremor," he said. "The Basilica of St Francis is not only one of the
most precious Christian buildings in the world, and a symbol of
peace, it contains some of the most important paintings in the
history of art." The basilica has been shored up with scaffolding
over the past two weeks, while restorers finish sifting through the
rubble for pieces of fresco behind a high wooden wall, set up to
keep out sightseers and potential thieves. But surveyors are still
not sure how unstable the great 13th-century building is. Professor
Croci said he would have preferred to dismantle the crumbling
tympanum, but this had been ruled out as too risky. Instead a
60-tonne crane with a 60-yard-long telescopic arm will lift a
prefabricated steel-mesh cage over the tympanum, where it will rest
on a narrow stone shelf and be secured by steel bands. Engineers said
the priority was to hold the pediment in place, with a decision to be
taken later on whether and how to rebuild it. "We have to do
something, it's hanging by a thread," Professor Croci said. In the
Upper Church, where the floor has been covered in hundreds of old
mattresses as a precaution, the collapse would bring down key
frescoes by Cimabue, including Scenes from the Apocalypse, and his
magnificent Crucifixion, in which the painter shows St Francis
kneeling at the foot of the Cross. Both are blackened and faded, but
are considered crucial to the birth of Western art. In the Lower
Church, the left transept was mainly decorated by Lorenzetti, who
painted the frescoes when he was 30 and at the height of his powers.
They depict Judas hanging himself after betraying Jesus; Jesus
washing the feet of His disciples; a Crucifixion full of human crowd
detail, with the two thieves placed on either side of Jesus for the
first time in Western art; The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, with
Jerusalem shown as a Sienese city of crenellated towers in clear,
sharp colours; the Kiss of Judas, with the first depiction in Italian
painting of a starry night sky; and a Deposition. The most admired of
the Lorenzetti masterpieces is his Madonna and Child with St Francis
and St John the Evangelist, more affectionately known as the Sunset
Madonna because of the breathtaking impression made when the setting
sun strikes the gold of the fresco. The Virgin Mary and the Infant
Jesus appear to be deep in conversation, while the Virgin points to
St Francis: the interpretation in Assisi is that Jesus is asking His
mother who loved Him more, St Francis or the Beloved Disciple. Also
at risk are the chapel of St John the Baptist, built by the Orsini
family, which contains another Madonna and Child by Lorenzetti, and
the cloister of Sixtus IV the Fransciscan Pope reached by a stone
staircase near the Lorenzetti frescoes in the Lower Church. Built
between 1474 and 1476, the cloister consists of two delicately arched
loggias round a courtyard with a rainwater cistern in the middle. The
walls bear 16th-century frescoes by Dono Doni, and ground-floor rooms
house the library, with 80,000 volumes and thousands of rare
manuscripts on theology, music and art history.
(Philadelphia Inquirer)
Unearthed tombs tell tale of a rich civilization
By Larry Fish
Three ancient burials at Sipan, in northern Peru, excavated over the
last decade represent "the richest, unlooted tombs ever uncovered in
the Americas," according to one scholar of the civilization that
produced them about 2,000 years ago. "The tombs at Sipan are
magnificent -- in terms of gold, they surpass that of King Tut,"
said Michael Moseley, a professor of anthropology at the University
of Florida who has studied the sophisticated and still somewhat
mysterious Moche civilization, which arose in one of the world's
driest deserts beginning about 100 B.C. But as the gold and copper
backflap recovered by the FBI this week demonstrates, not all the
treasures of Sipan have wound up in the hands or archaeologists. The
Sipan burials are concentrated in an earthen platform, and thieves
plundered the site in the 1980s before the overnment of Peru could
secure it. That was hardly the first time the ancient graves had
been looted. The conquering Spanish of the 16th and 17th centuries
diverted a river to wash out the huge adobe-brick pyramid and burial
platform in the town of Moche itself, treating those burials --
probably even more important to the ancient civilization than those
in Sipan -- as a literal gold mine. With those artifacts long gone
and the Sipan burials undiscovered until relatively recently,
scholars pieced together what is known about Moche civilization from
the other objects they could unearth. "We know a lot about their
religion. They didn't leave a written record, but they had a rich
symbolic record, mostly on pottery," said Clark Erickson, associate
professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and
associate curator of the University Museum. The FBI called Erickson
to ask him to evaluate the backflap recovered after Tuesday's arrest
of two men who were trying to sell it. The Moche culture originated
in northern Peru on the relatively narrow coastal plain between the
Pacific Ocean and the towering Andes Mountains. It is an area so dry
that in a normal year, no measurable precipitation falls, Moseley
said. But the Moche people became expert at capturing and exploiting
the water from the Andean snowmelt, building and maintaining an
elaborate system of canals. "It was very sophisticated hydraulic
engineering," Moseley said, and the corn, manioc and potatoes the
irrigation produced "supported a very dense population." Rather than
paying cash taxes, Moche citizens apparently owed a yearly duty of
working on the civilization's increasingly elaborate public-works
projects -- the canals, the pyramids and others. Eventually, their
civilization extended along roughly 300 miles of Peru's coastal
plain. They also traded along the coast; Erickson notes that some
tombs have contained tropical bird feathers that certainly did not
originate in arid Peru. Administering the canal work and the pyramid
building would have been the job of an elite, like the
"warrior-priest" who would have worn the largely ceremonial piece of
armor recovered by the FBI. Moche civilization declined about 700
A.D. for unknown reasons, though one theory suggests that
devastating floods brought about by El Nino may have had a role.
(Philadelphia Inquirer)
FBI agents strike gold in Phila. Acting undercover, they were to buy
a Peruvian artifact. They made two arrests. By Joseph A. Slobodzi an
In a tale out of an Indiana Jones movie, the FBI has recovered an
exquisite Peruvian antiquity -- a piece of gold body armor dating
back as much as 2,000 years -- from two Miami men who allegedly
tried to sell it to undercover agents in the parking lot of a
Philadelphia hotel. The bell-shaped sheet of hammered gold, believed
to have been stolen from the famed tombs at Sipan, Peru, would have
been worn as a backplate by a warrior king or priest of the Moche
civilization. Engraved on the upper part is a spider figure,
representing the Moches' "decapitator god." The spider deity holds
the head of a warrior in one hand and a "tumi," or Moche sword, in
the other. Robert Sonin, an antiquities expert who examined the
artifact for the FBI, called it "beautiful . . . a magnificent
example of Moche metal work." The Moche (pronounced mo-chay)
civilization flourished from about 100 B.C. to 700 A.D. along several
hundred miles of Peru's Pacific coast. Two Miami businessmen were
arrested Tuesday in the parking lot of the Adam's Mark Hotel on City
Avenue as they allegedly prepared to deliver the artifact to two FBI
agents posing as art brokers. Authorities said the suspects wanted
$1.6 million for the backplate. Denis Garcia, 57, and Orlando Mendez,
31, were charged with smuggling the antiquity into the United States,
and with interstate and foreign transportation of stolen property. A
federal magistrate judge released them on bail -- $300,000 for Mendez
and $100,000 for Garcia. The arrests capped an investigation that
began in August when Garcia allegedly contacted a front company in
Miami that the FBI uses for undercover work. Garcia told an agent that
the gold treasure was in the hands of the family of a former Peruvian
president, and that Garcia could deliver it for a price, according to
an FBI affidavit filed in federal court here. The agent referred
Garcia to FBI agent Robert K. Wittman in Philadelphia, a specialist
in art and antique thefts who was posing as an art broker. After an
exchange of letters and phone calls, Wittman and a second agent,
Anibal Molina, met Garcia and Mendez on Tuesday at a rest stop on the
New Jersey Turnpike, authorities said. There, the two Miamians went
to the trunk of their car and opened a suitcase containing the
backplate, according to the affidavit. Wittman had the two follow him
to the Adam's Mark, where an art expert was supposedly waiting to
authenticate the piece. Garcia and Mendez were arrested in the
parking lot. Lawyers for the two declined to comment on the charges.
Both men were described as U.S. citizens and natives of Puerto Rico
with no prior criminal records. Garcia's lawyer, federal public
defender Leigh M. Skipper, said his client operates street-vending
carts in Miami and Puerto Rico. Mendez's lawyer, Oscar Rodriguez,
said Mendez was a friend of Garcia's and runs a
construction-equipment rental business in Miami. Peruvian diplomats
have been informed of the recovery of the artifact, which will be
returned to Peru after the two suspects have been prosecuted, said
Bob C. Reutter, agent in charge of the FBI's Philadelphia office. The
FBI affidavit said Garcia told undercover agents the backplate was
obtained from an unidentified uncle of former Peruvian President Alan
Garcia Perez. Garcia allegedly told the agents that the former
president obtained the armor piece during a visit to Sipan and gave
it to the uncle after he left office in 1991. Authorities said they
had been unable to verify Garcia's account. The two-piece backplate,
displayed yesterday at a news conference at FBI headquarters in
Center City, is about 20 inches tall and 15 inches wide at the
shoulders and at the small of the back. The smaller top part is
shaped like a rising half-sun; the lower section flares out at the
bottom like a bell. The surface of the upper portion is covered with
a circle of 10 raised spheres that originally contained copper
pellets that created a rattling noise when the wearer walked or ran.
Sonin, of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., a consultant and restorer of
antiquities, said in a phone interview yesterday that he went to the
FBI's office Wednesday expecting to find a forgery. "There are just
so many fakes coming through," Sonin said. "Genuine pieces are rare."
Sonin said he immediately recognized the backflap as genuine because
of the quality of the metal work and engravings and the presence of
marks left by textiles or cloth pressed into the soft gold after it
was buried in the Sipan tomb. Sonin said a green crystalline crust
also indicated the artifact was genuine. Sonin said the crust is
copper carbonate, a copper salt from the sandy Peruvian soil. "It's a
process that occurs in the earth over hundreds of years," he said.
"It's not something that human beings can apply." Sonin said the
backflap is a third larger than any he has seen before, meaning that
it likely belonged to a member of Moche royalty or a powerful
warrior. U.S. Attorney Michael R. Stiles said Tuesday's arrests were
among the first under a 1990 agreement between Peru and the United
States restricting the importation of pre-Columbian artifacts. The FBI
affidavit said Garcia told the undercover agents, during a meeting
Sept. 5, that the backflap was still in Lima, Peru, but would be
brought to the United States by a friend who worked at a foreign
consulate in New York City. On Oct. 2, the affidavit said, Mendez
phoned Wittman and said the backflap would be made available at a
foreign consulate on the Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan.
Instead, the FBI agents arranged Tuesday's meeting at the turnpike
rest stop. After his arrest, the affidavit said, Garcia gave agents a
statement saying he and Mendez had traveled to Peru to pick up the
backflap and then flew to Newark, N.J., via Panama. Garcia said the
backflap never passed through U.S. Customs, according to the
affidavit. Stiles and the FBI's Reutter refused to disclose further
details of the investigation, including whether the backflap entered
this country through diplomatic channels.
From: Susan E. Lunas <>
Subject: Drying frozen books
In response to Micki Ryan's request for information about freeze
drying books, I was wondering if the home freezer is frost free or
one that has to be defrosted. Frost free freezers draw moisture out
of the freezing compartment and out of the items stored there. Have
you queried meat lockers, or some place that has an efficient
commercial food freezer? The emphasis here is on *food freezer*, as
they are usually easier to come by than the freeze dryers. Freeze
dryers are nice because they are really fast, and food freezers will
work as well, they just take longer. As to the length of time it takes
to dry out the materials; it depends on how efficient the freezer is,
if it is a freeze dryer or freezer, how cold it is and how much air
circulation the freezer provides, and how wet the material was to
begin with. In an experimental situation, we soaked books, put them
into a grocery store freezer, the upright kind with glass doors, and
waited for several months (I'm not positive, but 4 or 5 months)
before the books were dry. The books will eventually dry out in a
regular home freezer which is not frost free, it just will take a
long time. I believe that people have written about this topic.
Perhaps one of my colleagues will be forthcoming with literature
In response to your comments about the UKIC publication, I
understand from a reliable source (sorry, I'd rather not say who),
that this publication has been laid to rest. You should check that
with UKIC, but as of a couple of weeks ago, that was what I had
David Tremain
Preventive Conservation Services, Canadian Conservation Institute
Subject: RE: Disaster preparedness and management priorities
Dear Alan and Tegan,
I've often thought that those of us involved in emergency
preparedness need to target managers and museum directors instead of
the usual conservators and collections managers, librarians and
archivists, who are already sold on the idea. Usually we're
"preaching to the converted". I wish there was an easy way to
tackle this one. Miguel Angel Corzo, director of the Getty
Conservation Institute said a few years ago (1990?) in a meeting for
American museum directors, that it was essential that directors get
involved in the plan, otherwise it just wouldn't happen. It has to
have the support of management. One way to tackle the problem is to
get museum directors thinking about museums (and I'm using the word
"museum" as a generic term for any cultural institution or historic
site) as a business and how much it would cost every day the building
is closed; what it does to their reputation as custodians of cultural
heritage; how much it costs to get up and running again; what
services would be lost, delayed, or affected etc. The emergency
preparedness literature related to business says that 50% of all
businesses affected by disasters go under within two years, or are
taken over by another company. In some cases, businesses have more or
less gone belly up overnight. While that may not be the case with
museums who receive government funding at federal, state, provincial
or local level, it may mean that operations have to be scaled down as
a result of an emergency, people fired, fewer services etc. I think
it is important to stress the business resumption planning aspect of
emergency and disaster planning and do a business impact analysis.
What are your principal operations? What are your essential services?
How long will it be before we can reopen, and to what extent? etc.,
To give you an example, the fire at "Green Gables", the house in
Prince Edward Island where Lucy Maud Montgomery set "Anne of Green
Gables", is a major tourist attraction and consequently a major
source of income. The fire started about a month before tourist
season on the island and threatened to seriously affect the opening
of the house. Fortunately, Parks Canada, which owns the property,
was able to restore much of the house in time for the tourist season,
so not losing the important revenue and the loss of tourists.
Consider how much tourist revenue is going to be lost in Assisi and
its surroundings this year as a result of the earthquakes. There
must also be statistics on the amount of revenue lost in Britain a
couple of years ago after tourists (particularly American) stayed
away because of the IRA bombings.
CCI Technical Bulletin No.18 "Fire Prevention Programs for Museums",
by Paul Baril, 1997, available from CCI at $6.00 Cdn gives some
fire statistics for museums, art galleries and libraries in Canada
(from 1982 - 1993), taken from the Fire Commissioner's annual report,
which shows that losses were estimated to be over $3m. These figures
are real dollars, not adjusted to any base year, and do not include
collection losses. Paul Baril also includes the number of fires over
that same period (1990 was a good/bad year with approximately 45
fires). 41% of all fires were arson, or suspected arson; and 45%
occurred between 7.00 pm and 5.00 am.
Here are some estimated costs of museums etc affected by disasters
in recent years (in millions of Canadian dollars):
Fire - Weldon Law Library, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, 1985,
$0.25m (cost of freeze-drying books);
Fire -Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina, , 1990, $2m;
Fire - Billings Estate Museum, Ottawa, 1992, $0.125m;
Fire - Windsor Castle, 1992, $60 - 80m;
Terrorist bombing - Uffizi Art Gallery, Florence, 1992, $26m;
Fire - Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Hamilton, Ontario, 1993,
$3m (does not include cost of replacing five historic planes at $1m
Flood - Musée du Fjord, Ville de la Baie, Quebec, 1996, $1.2m
(estimated cost of rebuilding walls and decontamination);
Fire - Green Gable, Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, 1997, $2.3m.
Hope this gives you something to work with. Keep in touch. I'd be
interested to know how this works out.
David Tremain
Preventive Conservation Services, Canadian Conservation Institute

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