Monday, May 01, 2006

My latest art history crush

NPR : Chasing Down History and the 'Thieves of Baghdad'

Matthew Bogdanos spoke at the AAM convention this past weekend in Boston, and was spectacular. He spoke for over an hour, without notes, while striding all around the giant hotel ballroom, and he *owned* the room. What happened at the Iraq museum is more complicated - and perhaps even more depressing - than what most of us learned in the mainstream media. At least one of the three main robberies was an inside job - a DEEP inside job, and more than half of the things stolen are still missing.

He's a colonel in the Marine reserves, a Manhattan Assistant DA, and a scholar of the classics. I think he should be the new pin-up boy for museums. He peppered his talk with quotes from Socrates, from Twain, from Shakespeare. Nice.

I haven't read his book yet, but I bought it right after the lecture and had him sign it. So far, I've read one chapter, and it's good. Profits go to the Iraq Museum, which needs money desperately for staff, for conservation, for repair, for the continuing search for stolen artworks.

Most of us learned in grade school that civilization was formed at the Tigris & Euphrates rivers, remember that? Yeah, that's in Iraq. Many of Western civilization's greatest ancient artworks are at the Iraq Museum - or were until 2003. It's easy to forget this kind of thing, the news keeps on rolling and the networks stop reporting, but Bogdanos is doing a fine job of keeping the illegal trade in antiquities, and the tragedy at the Iraq National Museum in the public eye.

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