Who Owns Antiquities?

Event Type

Live panel discussion

Event Details

Trinity Long Room Hub, Dublin

February 2, 2024 3:00 PM

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Who Owns Antiquities?
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About the event

Who owns antiquities? Join us for a discussion of one of the major cultural issues of our time: the restitution of cultural artefacts.

Museums everywhere are currently reconsidering objects in their collections and, in some instances, are returning pieces to their countries of origin. What are the arguments for the return of cultural artefacts to their homelands as a way of doing justice for past wrongs, especially in the light of colonialism, slavery and racism?  

The starting point for this wide-ranging discussion on the decolonising of museums and universities will be one of the world’s longest-standing cultural disputes: over the Parthenon Marbles, removed from the Acropolis in Athens by Lord Elgin’s men in the early 19th century and entrusted to the British Museum.

A new book by our visiting speaker, Alexander Herman, explains how the Marbles became the cause célèbre of the larger dispute around cultural heritage and restitution now taking place, one that embroils museums, universities, governments and the public. His book, The Parthenon Marbles Dispute: Heritage, Law, Politics (Hart/ Bloomsbury, 2023) offers a detailed analysis of the case, investigating new ways to resolve this and the many similar disputes around the world.

He will be joined by curator and art historian, Dr Éimear O’Connor, Director of Collections and Access at the National Museum of Ireland, and Professor Christine Morris, Classics Department, Trinity College Dublin. The discussion will be chaired by Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald, School of Art History and Cultural Policy, University College Dublin.

Presented by ClassicsNow in partnership with the Department of Classics, Trinity College Dublin.


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Alexander Herman

Alexander Herman is Director of the UK-based Institute of Art & Law, an internationally recognised education and research provider. He also helped found the Art, Business and Law LLM that the Institute runs with the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary University of London, and continues to teach widely across this programme.

He writes and presents on a number of art law topics, from art theft and restitution to museum practice and copyright. His articles appear frequently in The Art Newspaper and the Institute's quarterly law journal Art, Antiquity and Law. He is often quoted in the press as an expert commentator (Guardian, Telegraph, New York Times, Atlantic, Bloomberg, Haaretz, Globe and Mail, Financial Post, Le Devoir) and interviewed for television. His previous book, Restitution: The Return of Cultural Artefacts was published by Lund Humphries in 2021.

Dr Éimear O'Connor

Dr Éimear O’Connor has been working within the arts and culture sector in Ireland for over thirty-five years. A published author, lecturer, curator, and collections manager, she holds a BA and PhD from University College Dublin, and an MBA first class from Dublin Institute of Technology. Formerly a member of the Board of Directors of The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, she was Director of The Tyrone Guthrie Centre in County Monaghan before taking up the post of Director of Collections and Access with the National Museum of Ireland in October 2023.

Dr Emily Mark-Fitzgerald

Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald is Associate Professor in the School of Art History and Cultural Policy at University College Dublin, and one of the foremost scholars of 19th century Irish visual culture, museum/heritage studies and cultural policy from the 19th c. - present. At UCD she is Programme Head of the BA in Creative and Cultural Industries, and has co-delivered the MA in Art History: Collections and Curating and the MA in Cultural Policy and Arts Management for the past two decades.

A former Director of the Irish Museums Association for nine years, she also represented Art History on the Historical Studies Committee of the Royal Irish Academy for eight years, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Prof Christine Morris

Christine Morris is Andrew A. David Professor in Greek Archaeology and History in the Department of Classics, Trinity College Dublin. She specialises in the archaeology of the Mediterranean, with particular focus on the Aegean Bronze Age and Cyprus. Her publications include Ancient Goddesses (with Lucy Goodison, 1998); The Archaeology of Spiritualities (with Kathryn Rountree and Alan Peatfield, eds 2012); Unlocking Sacred Landscapes: Spatial Analysis of Ritual and Cult. Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology (with Giorgos Papantoniou and Athanasios Vionis, eds 2019).  She is a graduate of the University of Cambridge (BA) and University College London (PhD). She is a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and sits on the Managing Committee of the Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies at Athens.

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Festival Partners

Literature IrelandInstituto Italiano di Cultura DublinoThe Classical Teachers Association of IrelandThe Classical Association of IrelandThe Classical Association of Northern IrelandAdvocating Classics EducationIrish Institute of Hellenic Studies at AthensMaynooth UniversityTrinity College DublinInstituto Italiano di Cultura Dublino

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