The world of antiquities is hardly new to controversy but the surprise cancellation of the Cleveland Museum’s Fall show of Sicilian artifacts reported by the NY Times’s Patricia Cohen has everyone scratching their heads though officials tell Cleveland’s director, Dan Franklin, that cultural loans are causing problems with disappointed tourists:
The exhibition, “Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome,” which opened on April 3 at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, includes 145 items that celebrate the Greek culture that flourished on the island between the 5th and 3rd centuries, B.C.E. In a statement, Mr. Franklin said that despite the intervention of the United States embassy in Rome and the Italian embassy in Washington, the autonomous Sicilian government would not budge.
Culture officials on the island were particularly concerned that two of the exhibition’s major attractions, a six-foot-tall statue of a charioteer and a gold libation bowl, popular tourist attractions, had been missing for so long from Italy.
Last month, in response to questions from The New York Times, Mariarita Sgarlata, Sicily’s highest cultural official, had asked, “How would an American tourist react who, trusting his Frommer’s travel guide, has gone out of his way to visit the island of Mozia to admire this work of art in its original setting, only to discover that the statue is in Tokyo or St. Petersburg?”