Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York gets to show Cycladic treasures

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Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York  gets to show Cycladic treasures161 pieces of Cycladic art donated by businessman Leonard Stern

Under an unusual deal, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will display 161 pieces of Cycladic art donated by businessman Leonard Stern – which will be for at least 10 years – but agrees they are owned by the Greek state.

The collection, which was put together over some 40 years by Stern, who won’t say how it acquired the collection of mostly marble figures and vessels created thousands of years ago in the Cyclades group of islands in the Aegean Sea.

As part of the arrangement, 15 of the most esteemed items accumulated will first be exhibited in early November at the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens and then sent back to the Met for a decade, beginning in early 2024, The New York Times said.

That could be extended even longer which means they could be kept outside Greece even though belonging to the state under a deal to win the backing of the state which has been trying to win back stolen treasures after failing for generations to move the British Museum to return the Parthenon Marbles.

Stern donated his collection to the Hellenic Ancient Culture Institute, a nonprofit organization in Delaware that will safeguard the antiquities and make them available for display, the report said.

The institute is governed by a board whose chairman and a majority of members are appointed by the Cycladic museum, a private institution founded in 1986 to house the collection of Nikolaos and Aikaterini (Dolly) Goulandris, supervised by the Greek Culture Ministry.

“This agreement builds on decades of a fruitful partnership between the Greek government and the Met, and we are delighted to be able to play a role in an arrangement that will thrill and educate visitors and scholars now and for generations to come,” the museum’s Director Max Hollein said.

Most have already been transported to the museum, featuring valuable works considered by some art experts to be the pinnacle of western artists and inspiring Modigliani and Picasso who called them “magical objects,” the report noted.

Stern, Chairman and CEO of the privately owned Hartz Mountain Industries, based in New York, said that became fascinated by Cycladic art as a youth when he saw examples at the Met, admiring what he called “the power, the simplicity” of the “magnificent stone carvings.”

THE STERN ROOM

He began his collection in 1981, gradually assembling a group of artifacts that were kept at his townhouse on Fifth Avenue, displayed in a room that was used as a library office, The Times noted.

The collection includes items from the Late Neolithic period to the end of the Early Bronze Age that range in size from diminutive figurines to an over four-foot-long reclining female figure, referred to by the Met as “among the great works of Cycladic art.”

Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni earlier said the government had no evidence the objects were stolen without explaining why it would then take ownership if they legally belonged to Stern.

Stern said he understood it would be awkward to donate the collection to the Met and said that, “None of the major museums want to affront the honor of countries by accepting their patrimony unless they have the blessing of these countries.”

The agreement came together when the Greek Parliament controlled by the ruling New Democracy, over some objections, approved it in a pact that the Times said included the language: that “Greek Patrimony Law provides that the Greek State is the sole owner of the Collection,” while allowing for the possession of the collection by the Hellenic Ancient Culture Institute.

The complete collection will be on view exclusively at the Met for 10 years and over the next 15 years will gradually go to Greece for display at the Cycladic museum and other museums but Greek museums will loan the Met other Cycladic works.

“We are all very proud to have participated in this effort of creating new ways of collaboration between museums” and to play a role in the “consensual return of antiquities,” wrote Cycladic Museum’s President and CEO Kassandra Marinopoulou.

In 2049 the Greek state may agree to loan the collection to the Met again for another period of up to 25 years, which means it would stay in New York until 2074 but belong to Greece.

If an agreement can’t be reached the part of the collection that is still at the Met will revert to the Hellenic Ancient Culture Institute and be sent to Greece for display there.

Stern is also endowing an archive room in the Greek and Roman Department’s Onassis Library for Hellenic and Roman Art, and a position to facilitate the care of the archives and scholarly visits, both to be named after him.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinationsGreek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC-BY-SA Copyright: Fcb981

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