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AC’s Tess Davis Calls for Increased Transparency from the Met in ProPublica

April 26, 2023

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (the Met) is a globally-recognized institution, yet it is facing rising questions on its practices for acquiring and displaying art and antiquities with suspicious provenance, or none at all.

An investigation from ProPublica revealed that part of the museum’s extensive collection features cultural artifacts currently taken from Native American tribes. Two of these artifacts include wooden masks that had been taken from tribal lands almost 150 years ago. 

These pieces of history made their way to the Met from the Dikers, a couple known for having one of the country’s most significant collections of Native American objects. The provenance of these antiquities does not begin until 2003, when the Dikers purchased them from a collector and transferred ownership to the Met in 2017.

This isn’t the first time the Met has received antiquities with questionable ownership, and ProPublica reports that only 15% of the Met’s collection from the Dikers has a complete history.

Tess Davis, Executive Director of the Antiquities Coalition, emphasized that while the Met is claiming to increase transparency, much more should be done to set the gold standard for national and international institutions. 

Davis was quoted as saying:

“[The Met] could set an example about the importance of combating illegal trade and the need to protect cultural heritage. But it seems they are doing the opposite.”

The Antiquities Coalition continues to call for the Met to increase transparency and outlines specific recommendations for how the Museum can regain public trust. 

Read the full investigation from ProPublica here.