Essay Preview: Seligman Interests
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Seligman had several interests in this situation. His first primary interest was to preserve the collection. It appears that his love for art and artifacts would be the reasoning for this approach. The need for preservation was due to the collection was not properly stored under Wagner’s possession. In addition to the improper storage, there were some attempts of restoration performed under Wagner’s watch. Seligman chose to invest museum’s monies in hope to ensure that the collection would not deteriorated further. He also decided to reach out to members of the archeological community for guidance in the matter. This is a very important factor because the determination of ownership hadn’t been decided when he chose to restore it. If it was to remain with Seligman at the Museum, it had the potential to produce millions of revenue from patrons. This would in turn cover the cost of the restoration process. If it was to return to Mexico, it would ensure that the cultural heritage was returned to its original home as well as being restored. However it would be a loss of revenue for the Museum. Seligman chose to look past the chance of financial gain as well as the cost of restoration to focus on making sure the items were preserved/restored. His next interest would be related to ownership of the items. As the curator, his role is to ensure that museum has possession of artifacts as well as shield it from unnecessary expenses that the possession may incur. The exhibit of the artifacts would bring the museum notoriety. It could be a tool for education and preservation as well. Had Seligman chose to only focus on the ability to have the collection for the city of San Francisco; this could have caused the museum to be penalized millions of dollars by Mexico’s law. Mexico had recently started seeking restitution for artifacts that had been taken from them. It also could cause relations between the two countries to become disjointed as well. This fragmentation could have passed on to the Mexican American community in San Francisco area. The museum had the possibility of experiencing backlash by choosing to have sole custody of the artifacts. However Seligman chose to bridge the three entities (museum, Mexico, and public/communities) by proposing joint custody. There were other entities that had considerable interests in this unique case. Mexico’s interest was to reclaim cultural heritage and pride back. Another interest of Mexico could be to ensure that a precedent was being set that items in relation to historical items being taken from the country. The Museum’s interest in this case is ownership and notoriety. The museum wanted the items just as much as Mexico wanted them to returned. The museum had a chance at prestige for being one of the few museums outside of Mexico that showed historical items from that era. The archeological community had an interest as well in this situation. The murals were possible blueprints of language and civilization. Education and possible discovery of new information would be momentous for the archeological community. Another concern for the archeological community was cultural patrimony. It is important for the archeological community to be able to have open dialogues about discoveries, techniques, etc with other countries. This may be difficult if other countries feel that items of cultural importance will not be returned after despoliation of sites. This case had a possibility to cause discords in the archeological communities. The San Francisco community had an interest as well. Tax dollars would have been used to store, restore, and move the items.