Collaborative Futures for Museum Collections: Antiquities, Provenance and Cultural Heritage

Monday, October 17, 2016
End Date: 
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
The Menil Collection and Rice University

The Collaborative Futures conference presents the crucial first outcomes of the Collections Analysis Collaborative (CAC), a research and educational initiative developed to probe questions of cultural heritage and to generate a rich, historical understanding of nearly 600 objects from the ancient Mediterranean in the Menil’s permanent collection.  Over the past year, scholars from across the United States have been granted extraordinary access to the Menil’s object records in order to investigate the biography, history and significance of works in the collection.  Their charge has been to explore how open collaboration between museums and scholars can shed new light on the collection and on challenges that face art historians, archaeologists and museum professionals in a new era of cultural stewardship.  

European and American collections of antiquities often manifest complicated acquisition histories that include political relationships with other nations, fieldwork and excavations, purchases from art dealers and auction houses, and gifts to institutions from collectors and patrons.  An object’s aesthetic and cultural significance and its perceived authenticity have often superseded its documented provenance, provenience, and the circumstances through which collectors acquired it. Following the ratification of the UNESCO 1970 convention and the 1983 Cultural Properties Implementation Act (CPIA), the political and ethical contexts of past practices are no longer tenable. This creates a complex situation for both established and growing collections.  By fostering open dialogue between scholarly communities with diverse perspectives, the project aims to generate new models for research partnerships, collection stewardship, and the study of art from the ancient world.

For more information and to register, please visit

Organizer: Prof. John Hopkins