Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Credibility gap

James Cuno has just conducted another radio discussion, this time with former Iraq Museum curator Donny George on Wisconsin Public Radio. The exchange has been widely reported (see for example on because of another Cuno-blooper which, in fact, he also uttered during his Radio Three conversation with Tristram Besterman here in the UK a fortnight ago. This is what he said to Donny George:

"There is not a credible museum in this country that has an object that it knows to have been stolen from someplace else."

And only yesterday I stumbled upon Ricardo Elia's quoting of that other bull in a china shop — Thomas Hoving:

"Almost every antiquity that has arrived in America in the past ten to twenty years has broken the laws of the country from which it came."

(Ricardo Elia Responds, Archaeology, May/June 1993, at 1, 17 (quoting memoir of Thomas Hoving, Making the Mummies Dance, 1993)

Of course, Hoving didn't say "arrived in American museums". But we know what he meant.

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