Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Art Crime — A timely educational initiative

Is art crime increasing, or has the threat simply been more keenly felt as prices on the art market have risen exponentially in recent years? Can the history of art crime teach us anything about how to secure collections today? Should we see art 'heists' — the theft of masterpieces from major public and private collections — as in any way related to the illicit trade in cultural heritage? Why has the retention and recovery of cultural heritage become such a critical issue to developing nations? Is the trafficking in art and cultural property connected to other forms of trafficking — in people, drugs and arms? To what extent has globalisation exacerbated these problems and what can be done to address them? How can museums secure their collections while safeguarding the principle of open public access that constitutes their raison d'être? Are museums doing enough to honour their moral obligations in researching the provenance of Holocaust-related assets in their collections, and acting properly on the results of that research?

Crimes against art and other forms of material culture have become one of the most pressing social problems in an increasingly globalized world. Understanding the nature of the problem and how to address it requires an awareness of the complex interconnections between the art market, archaeology, museology, cultural identity, art law and art policing.

Now an opportunity has arisen to engage with these issues in a new Masters programme organised by the recently founded Association for Research into Crimes Against Art (ARCA).

The first course takes place next summer in the delightful setting of Amelia, a hilltop town in the province of Terni in Umbria, Italy (pictured above left), an hour or so outside Rome. Having been recruited as one of the course lecturers, I have an interest in seeing it succeed. However, personal matters aside, with cultural heritage now such a hot international issue, with art prices still accelerating, and with the interconnections between art theft, the drugs and arms trade and people-trafficking becoming ever more apparent, never has there been a more appropriate moment to launch a serious educational initiative of this kind.

Information about the course is printed below, but further details can be found on the ARCA website here or feel free to email me or the course organisers who will endeavour to respond to any questions.

MA Program in Art Crime Studies
ARCA (The Association for Research into Crimes against Art) is pleased to announce a new Masters Program in the study of art crime and cultural property protection. 

The first Masters Program in International Art Crime Studies, the program will provide in-depth instruction in a wide variety of theoretical and practical elements of art crime: its history, its nature, its impact, and what can be done to curb it. 

Courses are taught by international experts, in the beautiful setting of Umbria, Italy. Topics include art history and the art trade; museums and conservation; art security and policing; criminology and criminal investigation; law and policy; and the study of art theft; antiquities looting; war looting; forgery and deception; vandalism; and cultural heritage protection throughout history and around the world. 

It is the ideal program for art police and security professionals, art lawyers, insurers, curators, members of the art trade, and post-graduate students of criminology, law, security studies, sociology, art history, archaeology, and history.
Format and Schedule
This interdisciplinary program will be taught by twelve visiting lecturers, each lecturing for two-week clusters within their given fields of expertise related to the study of art crime. 

The program includes many more lecture hours than a standard 9-month long MA program (over 300 lecture hours and over 70 seminar hours), but will condense the lectures into three months (with the dissertation in a subsequent three). This format permits students and professionals to undertake the program of study over the course of one summer, either during a hiatus from work or between other academic programs.

Faculty and Courses

Art History
Professors David Simon and Veronique Plesch, Colby College

Conservation, Connoisseurship, & Museums
Dr Patricia Garland, Senior Conservator, Yale Art Gallery

Professor Matjaz Jager, Director of the Institute of Criminology at the Law Faculty, University of Ljubljana

Introduction to the Art World
Dr Tom Flynn, Art Historian and Writer

Archaeology & Antiquities: Crime, Trade, & Protection
Dr Derek Fincham, Loyola University

Art Crime & Its History
Noah Charney, Art Historian, Art Writer, and Director of ARCA

Criminalistics: Organized Crime & Art Investigation
Professor Bojan Dobovsek, University of Maribor, Faculty of Criminal Justice

Art Policing & Investigation
Richard Ellis, Security Advisor and Former Director, Scotland Yard Arts and
Antiques Unit

Organization of Art Crime: Villains in Art and Artful Villains
Professor Petrus van Duyne, Faculty of Criminology, University of Tilburg

International Comparative Art Law, Policy, & Policing
James William Hess, Esq.

Forgery & Deception in the Art World
Professor Travis McDade, Library Administration, University of Illinois College of Law

Art Protection: Museums, Security, and Handling
Anthony Amore, Director of Security, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
The first program will be held 25 May 2009-31 Aug 2009 in the city of Amelia, Italy, about one hour outside of Rome.  No more than thirty students will be accepted.