Sunday, October 01, 2006

Maya News Updates 2006, No. 43: Janssen Collection to Stay in Belgium
This Friday September 29, 2006, the Belgian reported that the Janssen collection will stay in Belgium. The text of the their news bulletin is to be found below (edited by Maya News Alerts):
A unique collection of pre-Columbian art, belonging to the widow of the pharmaceutical magnet Paul Janssen, is to remain in Belgium. The Flemish Government has agreed to accept the works of art as payment for inheritance tax due by Mr Janssen's widow, Dora, on his estate. The fact that it was the Flemish Government that was due the inheritance tax on Mr Janssen's, estate but a federal museum; the Royal Museum of Art and History that was to put the collection on display, caused friction between the Flemish Government and the Federal Government (not my broken English ...).
The Janssens' had already received a number of offers from foreign museums that were interested in buying the collection. However, the collection is now to stay in Belgium and will more than likely carry on being displayed in the Royal Museum of Art and History in Brussels. The collection numbers some 350 pieces from over 3,000 years of [North to] South American art history. The objects were made by artists from the native Olmec, Maya, Inca, and Aztec peoples.
Meanwhile, the Mexician Institute for Anthropology and History has said that it would like to investigate whether part of the collection should be returned to Mexico. According to Mexican law, all works of art found by archaeologists in the country are the property of the Mexican people. Private collectors are only allowed to own such pieces, if they are registered with the authorities. However, the Mexicans don't believe that this is the case with the Janssen collection. According to the daily 'De Morgen', Dora Janssen has already said that she isn't certain as to whether the pieces in the collection became available on the international art market by legitimate means.
Further comments by Maya News Updates: A museum in New Orleans would have been a possible recipient of the Janssen collection. Pieces from the collection that are currently under investigation by the Mexican INAH are the Pomoy Panel, a stucco head with a possible Palenque provenience (the cover illustration of the exhibition catalog), and a Mixtec gold object. These pieces may be claimed under Mexican law. For those readers who like to read an article in French on the Janssen collection, below is the small version of the scan of a page from the October 1st, 2006, edition of the Belgian newspaper Le Soir (my thanks go to Sebastian Matteo):


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