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A Cautionary Tale for Museums

By December 21, 2014 No Comments

Unfortunately, in this day of tight museum budgets the risk to museums when taking gifts or donations without spending the appropriate time and resources to do the proper due diligence is considerable. Even under the best circumstances there is always an inherent risk when dealing with art from art rich resource poor countries in South East Asia, Latin America, and Africa. This means it is of utmost importance that Museums carefully review legal documents, meticulously check provenance of pieces, and hedge their risks the best they can. It also means that if a museum does not have the money and resources to do these things it may be prudent to pass on the donation instead of taking the risk to reputation. Just ask the Honolulu Museum of Art that got an unfortunate recent visit from ICE regarding a piece donated as a gift to the Museum in 2003. For more information about that piece at the Honolulu Museum of Art that is currently under investigation see: Honolulu Museum of Art Blog.