I is for In Situ

| April 1, 2014

This post is inspired by a story in The Art Newspaper about returning Crimean Gold. Though the term in situ is peripherally related… in situ refers to objects left in their original place. In many of my classes we discuss the importance of museums, and the issues surrounding museums namely that they displace objects from their original context and can unknowingly (or purposely) distance the objects from their meaning and use. This comes into play especially with ancient tools and religious objects.

The archaeological museum at the University of Amsterdam borrowed Scythian gold and other rare artifacts from Crimea on loan for an exhibition called “The Crimea- Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea”. The museum is reportedly now consulting the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs on where to return the objects in August. This matter is of great concern for the art world and shows the greater political implications of museums. The return of the objects will be a political act by the Dutch government, they must plan their strategy carefully.

Valentina Mordvintseva, an archaeologist from the Crimean branch of the Institute of Archaeology of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, who helped organize the show has harsh words for the matter, saying  [if the museum does not return the objects to the Ukraine]  “This is murder, both for the objects and for the museum,”.