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During a conference call on July 9, 2015, with representatives of learned societies, auction houses, and government agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed that looting of antiquities in Syria and Iraq has taken place. They have also received confirmation from informants and found evidence of industrial levels of looting from satellite photos. The FBI asked the participants on the call to ask their constituents to follow due diligence and to reach out if anyone suspects objects to have been looted. They emphasized that most of the art market is relatively “clean,” meaning that most objects bought and sold have not been looted or illegally sold. However, it usually takes two years for looted items to begin to flood the market.

The FBI requested expert cooperation. Trafficking in cultural property is covered by the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property and by the US Criminal Code, in which it is considered criminal to “providing material support” if an expert in antiquities even suspects that objects have been looted and a report is not made to the FBI. one can call 855-835-5324.

The responsibility of the FBI is to dismantle illegal trafficking networks, not to provide data or set policy. The FBI is currently working on outreach that will better inform the public, create more awareness, and address reporting procedures.

CAA has invited FBI to address CAA members at the 2016 Annual Conference in Washington, DC, on February 4, 2016, on what antiquities experts should be aware of if they suspect they have found looted objects, and if reporting to the FBI would involve antiquities experts in legal processes and disclosure to the public. The FBI will also provide an update of the sites that have been looted in Syria and Iraq, and they will address current criminal law and international treaties related to sale, purchase, and possession of antiquities.

CAA abhors the senseless destruction of ancient Assyrian sculpture that was publicized today.  The Assyrians created sophisticated monumental sculpture that reflected their unique form of government, fostered urban development projects of palaces, temples and markets, built a prosperous economy and promoted reading and writing in cuneiform. The monumental works from this extraordinary ancient civilization had been preserved for over 2,500 years in one of the most important collections of Middle Eastern art, the Mosul Museum. CAA calls upon the Iraq and United States government as well as the ICOMOS, the World Monuments Fund and other international organizations to adhere to Hague Convention (1954), in concert with the public and the scholarly community, to develop and implement programs to protect ancient sites, monuments, antiquities, and cultural institutions in the case of war.

DeWitt Godfrey, CAA President
Linda Downs, Executive Director

The Executive Committee of the CAA Board of Directors has agreed to promote this petition, initiated by Jeffrey Hamburger of Harvard University, regarding the potential sale of the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

On May 28, 2013, CAA published an open letter to Kevyn Orr, emergency manager of the city of Detroit, to express concern over the future of the museum’s excellent collection of visual art.

2013 Candlelight Vigil for Global Heritage

posted by May 16, 2013

Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE) invites CAA members to join the 2013 Candlelight Vigil for Global Heritage, marking the tenth anniversary of the looting of the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. This year, SAFE encourages individuals and institutions to light a candle and share their remembrances and thoughts on the current situation, contemplate the future, and take the opportunity to announce their related projects and programs related to preserving our shared cultural heritage. Whether you are an expert or an “ordinary” concerned citizen, SAFE wishes to hear from you.

To observe the vigil, SAFE has launched a three-month global awareness campaign, 10 Years After, from April 10 to July 1, 2013 (also on Facebook). The organization is highlighting the efforts of individuals and institutions dedicated to global-heritage preservation; the global concern of looting and the illicit antiquities trade; how public awareness can contribute to the solution; and the many ways you participated in the Global Candlelight Vigil around the world.

These comments and reflections will be posted on SAFE’s website and disseminated via social media. Furthering the group’s commitment to raising public awareness about the global concern of looting and the illicit antiquities trade, SAFE will gather these reflections in a memorial booklet as a public statement of concern and as a tribute to all those who safeguard the future of our past.

As a nonprofit dedicated to preserving cultural heritage worldwide, SAFE initiated the Global Candlelight Vigil for the Iraq museum in 2007 with Donny George, the museum’s former director, to commemorate the looting of the museum, which became the impetus for the founding of the organization. Individuals and institutions from around the world hosted and attended lectures and candle-lighting ceremonies. A video of these events was compiled to mark the fifth anniversary. In 2011, the vigil was renamed to honor the memory of George, who died that year.

The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC) sent the following email on March 21, 2013. FAIC supports conservation education, research, and outreach activities that increase understanding of our global cultural heritage.

Foundation Supports Ongoing Care of Collections after Devastation of Superstorm Sandy

The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC) has completed work at the Cultural Recovery Center (CRC) in Brooklyn, NY after serving a community of artists and organizations in dire need of assistance. The CRC offered space and help at no cost to owners of artworks damaged as a result of Superstorm Sandy. Volunteer assistance and work space was provided to museums, libraries, archives, historic sites, galleries, collectors, and artists. While full conservation treatment was not covered, guidance and assistance in the cleaning and stabilization of art and cultural materials was.

23 members of the AIC Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT) contributed 128 days of professional volunteer services in New York and New Jersey. At least 34 additional conservators from the region also volunteered. At the CRC, volunteers worked with nineteen artists on hundreds of items, including paintings, works on paper, photographs, textiles, and multi-media works. Many of the works were at risk because of toxic deposits and potential mold growth.

The Center for Cultural Recovery was operated by The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC), in cooperation with a consortium of organizations:

  • Alliance for Response New York City
  • Heritage Preservation
  • New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
  • New York Regional Association for Conservation
  • Industry City at Bush Terminal
  • Smithsonian Institution

Initial funding for the response and recovery efforts, including initial costs for the Center, was provided by a leadership gift to FAIC from Sotheby’s. A grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation allowed the Center to remain open through March 8. Industry City at Bush Terminal provided the space rent-free. Rapid Refile set up containment tents and air scrubbers to prevent the spread of mold from incoming objects to cleaned objects. Collector Systems provided free use of its web-based collection management system. The Smithsonian Institution and a grant to Heritage Preservation from the New York Community Trust, as well as support from TALAS, enabled purchase of supplies. The Center was also outfitted with supplies from Materials for the Arts, a creative reuse program managed by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Additional donations to FAIC came from PINTA, The Modern & Contemporary Latin American Art Show; Tru Vue; Aon Huntington Block Insurance; Aon Foundation; members of AIC; and others. The American Museum of Natural History and MoMA also provided key in-kind support for recovery efforts and establishment of the CRC.

As the need for conservation continues, those with damaged pieces are encouraged to use AIC’s Find A Conservator tool available for free on the AIC website: The tool provides a systematic, consistent method of obtaining current information to identify and locate professional conservation services from all across the United States and abroad. It allows users to address a wide range of conservation problems, whether the needs are long-range or short-term and whether the collection consists of thousands of valuable historic artifacts, one priceless work of art, or items of great personal value.

May 31, 2012

Ecole du Patrimoine Africain
01 BP 2205

Dear Ecole du Patrimoine Africain:

On behalf of the College Art Association’s Board of Directors and 14,000 international members, we would like to express our grave concern for the protection of Mali’s cultural heritage in light of the current military action in the north of the country. On May 4, two mausoleums of Saints were intentionally defaced in Timbuktu, and there is reason to think such vandalism will continue unless the government of Mali and the National Army of the Republic of Mali act to safeguard the country’s cultural property.

Mali is renowned for its cultural achievements, and its cultural heritage is considered patrimony of Mali, Africa and the entire international community. Four sites have been declared World Heritage by UNESCO and six cultural practices are considered intangible heritage; they have been inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

We urge the Government and Army to protect Mali’s people and cultural artifacts in accordance with the international Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954), the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, and the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

We appeal to the political and military authorities in Mali to work for the best interest of the Malian nation, which should take precedence in ensuring the return to constitutional order in the north. We urge them to guarantee the preservation, integrity and security of cultural goods and people in all their dimensions and components, especially in occupied areas in Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, and ask Mali’s neighbors to prevent the illicit transfer of objects and works of art from Mali through customs and police controls at their borders.

Sincerely yours,

Anne Collins Goodyear

Linda Downs
Executive Director

CAA is the principal national and international voice of the academic and professional community in the visual arts; the organization was founded on the principle of advocating the visual arts and actively continues that engagement today (see The Eye, The Hand, The Mind: 100 Years of the College Art Association, edited by Susan Ball). The principal goal of CAA advocacy is to address issues of critical importance in the visual arts that benefit artists, art historians, and museum workers and to inform the public.

CAA specifically advocates change and improvements in these areas:

  • Government funding for the arts and humanities
  • Freedom of expression and against censorship
  • Intellectual-property rights
  • Preservation of the artistic integrity of public spaces
  • Higher education and technologies to facilitate distance learning
  • Philanthropy for the arts and humanities
  • Tax policy as it applies to CAA members
  • Conditions in universities, museums, and other workplace environments of CAA members

CAA cosponsors and regularly sends representatives to the annual Arts, Humanities, and Museum Advocacy Days in Washington, DC. Email petitions are requested of CAA members throughout the year when legislation is being considered in Congress related to specific issues. This year’s advocacy message to Capitol Hill focused on maintaining the funding levels of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Recent issues related to freedom of expression and censorship on which CAA has taken a public position include:

  • Incarceration of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei
  • Removal of David Wojnarowicz’s video from the Hide/Seek exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery
  • Proposed removal of the John T. Biggers mural at Texas Southern University
  • Removal of the Department of Labor mural in Augusta, Maine
  • Adrian Piper’s placement on the Transportation Security Administration Watch List
  • Supreme Court amicus brief in support of petition for review regarding artists whose vehicular artwork was removed by the City of San Marcos, Texas
  • Supreme Court amicus brief asserting the unconstitutionality of a federal law criminalizing the depiction of animal cruelty in United States v. Stevens

In addition, CAA has been involved in intellectual-property rights, as described below.

Orphan Works

CAA participated actively in US Copyright Office proceedings to study orphan works and, thereafter, actively supported legislation—yet to be passed by Congress—that would require users to conduct work-by-work, due-diligence searches to identify and find the copyright holder. If that search failed to identify or find the copyright holder, the work could be used without the threat of injunctive relief or statutory damages. If the copyright holder emerges after the work has been researched and used, he or she could still sue the user for copyright infringement, but a losing defendant would only be required to pay the normal license fee; the proposed legislation includes a safe harbor for museums that removed works expeditiously. It is unclear if any orphan-works legislation will be reintroduced in this or subsequent Congresses. After the March 2011 decision of Judge Denny Chin of the US Court of Appeals Second Circuit rejecting the settlement of the Google Books litigation, CAA’s counsel was approached by Public Knowledge (“a D.C. public interest group working to defend citizen’s rights in the emerging digital culture”) asking if CAA remained interested in orphan-works legislation and, if so, to sign a letter to Congress requesting that orphan-works legislation be reintroduced.

Cost for Reproducing Images of Artwork in Museum Collections

In recent member surveys, one of the most critical issues articulated was the high cost of reproduction rights of works in museum collections that are not under copyright. CAA has requested formal attention to this issue from the Association of Art Museum Directors.

Fair Use

CAA’s Committee on Intellectual Property, chaired by Doralyn Pines and Christine Sundt, is reviewing and proposing revisions to the Intellectual Property in the Arts section of the CAA website. The committee will also review a draft set of fair-use guidelines being prepared by the Art Law Committee of the New York Bar Association and the Visual Resources Association; after such review, the CAA Board of Directors may be asked to endorse the updated guidelines.

Extension of Copyright Term

CAA signed a Supreme Court amicus brief regarding the retroactive application of the extension of copyright term in Eldred v. Ashcroft. The Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 was challenged with the original complaint filed on January 11, 1999. CAA was an amicus when the case was brought to the Supreme Court, which held on January 15, 2003, that the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 was constitutional (see the March 2003 CAA News).

Artist-Museum Partnership Act

CAA actively supports the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, which establishes fair-market-value tax deductions for works given by artists instead of the current limitation to cost of materials. Information on the progress of the Artist-Museum Partnership Act is published in the weekly CAA News email, posted in the Advocacy section of the website, and communicated to the Services to Artists Committee. If and when a bill is subject to a vote in Congress, CAA will urge all members, affiliated societies, and committees to contact their representatives.

Coalition on the Academic Workforce

CAA is a member of the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, which recently prepared a survey of contingent faculty. Over 30,000 individuals completed the questionnaire—many were CAA members—and the results will be tabulated this spring. Information on all aspect of working conditions is included in this survey and will assist in informing future standards and practices. CAA’s Professional Practices Committee and Education Committee are kept informed of the survey and its tabulation and will analyze the results and determine action to take that will benefit CAA members. Contingent faculty is currently responsible for 76 percent of teachers in American colleges and universities. CAA supports equitable hiring, representation, and benefits for this growing segment of the faculty.

How It Works

How does advocacy work at CAA? CAA both monitors advocacy issues and is approached by universities, colleges, organizations, and individuals who raise issues via CAA’s counsel, officers and members of the board, executive director, deputy director, affiliated societies, or other partner organizations such as the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Association of Art Museum Directors, or the associations of the American Council of Learned Societies. If an issue warrants action and is consistent with the advocacy policy, CAA will prepare a response. Depending on the importance and complexity of the issue, CAA will prepare an email, letter of support, or statement; cosign a letter with other organizations; or, in exceptional circumstances when legal action is required, prepare an amicus brief or support proposed legislation. All advocacy issues brought to CAA’s attention are reviewed by the counsel and the executive director. Consistent with the organization’s Advocacy Policy, the Executive Committee and, if necessary, partner organizations also review the issues. Important matters where legal action is involved will be brought to the board.

At the February 2011 board meeting, Andrea Kirsh, then vice president for external affairs, volunteered to work as CAA’s advocacy coordinator. She has since actively assisted in carrying out research and drafting letters and statements. CAA members who would like to be informed of the organization’s advocacy efforts—and spread the word—can send an email to

The Foundation Center is actively collecting and disseminating information about the philanthropic response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. You can view this information via an RSS feed. If your organization has made—or is planning to make—any relief funding for the disaster, please take a moment to send your grant data (including specified recipients, their location, a description of the grant, and the amount of funding provided) to The center will post this information to the RSS feed to help show the public the scope and impact of the philanthropic community’s response.

The Executive Committee of the CAA Board of Directors has reviewed and approved the support of the following statement, published on February 2, 2011, under the aegis of the Association of Art Museum Directors. You may download a PDF of the letter.

Statement regarding Egypt

New York, NY—February 2, 2011—Recent news reports about the turmoil in Egypt have varyingly reported that some damage was done to works of ancient art in Egyptian museums—and that those who attempted to do harm were stopped. Just as we worry about the safety of Egypt’s citizens in this time of civil unrest, so, too, do we worry about the safety of the country’s cultural heritage—works of art and material culture crucial to our understanding of world civilization and humanity.

We, the representatives of the leading American museums and university art and art history departments, stand with the people of Egypt in their determination to protect 5,000 years of history, including those objects from history that remain unexcavated. Our members—more than 21,000 institutions and individuals—stand ready to assist in any way possible to secure the art and artifacts of Egypt.

Association of Art Museum Directors, Kaywin Feldman, President
American Association of Museums, Ford Bell, President
Association of Art Museum Curators, John Ravenal, President
Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, David Alan Robertson, President
College Art Association, Barbara Nesin, President


Janet Landay and Christine Anagnos
Association of Art Museum Directors

Sascha Freudenheim and Elizabeth Chapman
Resnicow Schroeder Associates
212-671-5172 and 212-671-5159

Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE) and Donny George, former director of the Iraq Museum and former president of the Iraq State Board of Antiquities, invite you to participate in the 2008 Global Candlelight Vigil to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2003 looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad.

In the five years since this terrible event, nearly half the missing works have been recovered. Yet thousands of Iraq Museum artifacts remain at large. Meanwhile, museums around the world are increasingly confronted by security challenges, and rampant looting at archaeological sites continues unabated around the world.

“Now is the time for people and museum professionals to gather together: to remember the events of 2003 and take steps to ensure that no museum in the world suffers a similar fate,” says George, who is now a visiting professor at Stony Brook University.

In a global call to action, George urges museum directors and staff, university faculty and students, and citizens around the world to use the fifth anniversary of the looting of the Iraq Museum as an opportunity to reenergize our efforts to protect the world’s cultural heritage.

Museums are encouraged to treat April 10-12, 2008, every year as a time to conduct security audits and update their internal risk management and due diligence practices. Likewise, universities are invited to use these three days every year for education and public awareness about the academic, ethical, and legal consequences of the destruction of cultural heritage with classroom projects, panel discussions, symposiums, or exhibitions.

The SAFE website offers suggestions for universities, museums, community groups, and others to plan an event of any size. SAFE Candlelight Vigil Kits offer a wealth of resources, including the DVD documentary Robbing the Cradle of Civilization: The Looting of Iraq’s Ancient Treasures (Canadian Broadcasting Company) or the documentary Thieves of Baghdad (Al Jazeera). Other relevant videos, such as a Charlie Rose interview with George from 2007, can be used, and SAFE also provides publicity tools.

Hosting a vigil in your community is easy:

• Choose a location and time on April 10, 11, or 12

• Schedule your event and post it to the Host a Vigil section of the SAFE website so that members of your community can learn of it and attend

• Use e-cards, customizable announcement flyers, buttons, posters, postcards, and the press-release template to help publicize your vigil

• Distribute the Candlelight Vigil brochure for distribution at your event. The brochure is being developed in conjunction with the exhibition Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago

• Gather with friends, family, colleagues, professors, and students. Pause for a moment of silence and light a candle. Discuss the destruction of cultural heritage and looting of ancient sites around the world, fueled by the global trade in illicit antiquities

• Document your vigil with digital photographs or video and send them to SAFE. We will use them in a compilation Video Memorial that includes gatherings from around the world

• You may also choose to light a virtual candle and add your name to the list of other supporters

For more information about the 2008 Global Candlelight Vigil for the Iraq Museum, contact us. Also join our e-mail list to receive periodic newsletters about SAFE activities.

SAFE is a nonprofit organization that creates educational programs and media campaigns to raise public awareness about the importance of preserving cultural heritage worldwide. Having no political affiliations, SAFE is a coalition of professionals in communications, media, and advertising working alongside experts in the academic, legal, and law enforcement communities.