Felix Salmon went to the Milken Institute conference this week where there was a panel on the antiquities trade:
The Milken discussion this afternoon on leveraging developing countries’ antiquities resources didn’t quite live up to the promise of its title (”Preserving the Past to Build the Future: Antiquities as an Economic Development Resource for Emerging Nations”) but was very interesting all the same. It was based on a publication full of provocative ideas about how countries can take advantage of the antiquities market and the world of museums, rather than fighting them the whole time.
Brent Lane suggested that the right model wasn’t debt but rather equity, which made sense to me: if you use a venture-philanthropy approach, where all proceeds are reinvested and none are dividended out, then most of the objections simply evaporate. And Larry Coben gave lots of quite exciting real-life examples, from his work in Bolivia and Peru, of how sites with antiquities can, with very little in the way of funding, be turned into sustainable sources of income for the locals. [ . . . ] The news of the day was the announcement of something called the Sustainable Preservation Initiative, which is trying to put a lot of these ideas into practice; the formal launch will come in a few weeks. With any luck, by the time this conference rolls around next year, there will be something on the ground to show for it; I’ll be fascinated to see what it is.
Monetizing Antiquities (Without Selling Them) (Felix Salmon/Reuters)