LOOTING THE PAST:
THE BATTLE FOR OUR ANCIENT HERITAGE
James Cuno, President and CEO, The J. Paul Getty Trust
Patty Gerstenblith, Distinguished Research Professor of Law, and Director, DePaul Center for Art, Museum, & Cultural Heritage Law
Richard M. Leventhal, Professor of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, and Executive Director, Penn Cultural Heritage Center
Moderated by Gil Stein, Director, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
History can be a casualty of war and instability—the looting of the Iraq Museum in 2003, the demolition of Afghanistan's Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001, and now the destruction of Syria’s ancient sites amidst the chaos. Thirty to forty percent of Aleppo’s ancient landmarks were damaged in one year alone. Although most countries recognize the importance of preserving the world's cultural heritage sites, especially standing monuments, the destruction, theft, and trading of portable antiquities remain controversial issues. Legal and ethical debates continue between museums, private collectors, dealers, source countries, archaeologists, and academics, and the looting shows no sign of abating. Join The Chicago Council, the Oriental Institute, and our panel of experts for a discussion on the fate of our ancient heritage.
James Cuno is the president and CEO of The J. Paul Getty Trust. He has previously served as president and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, director and professor of the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard University Art Museums, and several other posts. He has lectured and written widely on museums and cultural and public policy. He is the author and editor of several books including Who Owns Antiquity: Museums and the Battle Over Our Ancient Heritage, Museums Matter: In Praise of the Encyclopedic Museum, and others. Cuno received his AM and PhD from Harvard University, MA from the University of Oregon, and BA from Willamette University.
Patty Gerstenblith is Distinguished Research Professor of Law at DePaul University and director of its Center for Art, Museum and Cultural Heritage Law. In 2011, she was appointed by President Obama to serve as the chair of the President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee in the US Department of State. Gerstenblith received her PhD from Harvard University, JD from Northwestern University, and AB from Bryn Mawr College.
Richard M. Leventhal is a professor in the University of Pennsylvania Department of Anthropology, curator in the American Section of the Penn Museum, and executive director of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center. He is the former director of the Penn Museum, president and CEO of the School of American Research in Santa Fe, director of the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, among several other positions.
Gil Stein (moderator) is the director of the Oriental Institute and professor of near eastern archaeology at the University of Chicago. Stein’s archaeological research focuses on ancient Mesopotamia, and he has excavated in Arizona, New Mexico, Syria, Turkey, and Iraq. He is also the project director of the Oriental Institute-National Museum of Afghanistan Partnership Project, funded by the US Department of State. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, and BA from Yale University.