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Stewardship of Antiquities …

September 26, 2011

UPDATE: NPR reports the frescoes have begun their journey back to Cyprus, and provides an overview of their history from looting to repatriation.

In an era of on-going litigation and forced repatriations, news that the Menil Collection will be returning a Byzantine fresco cycle to Cyprus is worth pondering.  The news, reported by the New York Times and in today’s Art Knowledge News, is sad, since anyone who has seen the frescoes in their custom built chapel in Houston will certainly miss them.  However, they are being returned willingly by an institution that, in this case, takes stewardship seriously and responsibly.  The Menil, according to the Times, spent nearly $1.1 million for acquisition, restoration and conservation of the frescoes, which had been looted from a Greek Orthodox chapel, with the intent of one day returning them to Cyprus.  That day will come next year, and the frescoes will be home, once again.

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