Playing Darts with a Rembrandt: Public and Private Rights in Cultural Treasures

Playing Darts with a Rembrandt: Public and Private Rights in Cultural Treasures

by Joseph L. Sax
     
 

ISBN-10: 0472087843

ISBN-13: 9780472087846

Pub. Date: 04/02/2001

Publisher: University of Michigan Press

Some of the world's greatest treasures are hidden away and haven't been seen publicly for decades, sometimes for centuries. Others have been destroyed. They are not stolen property. They are simply private property, and no matter their public significance, the public has no claims on them. A capricious owner of Leonardo da Vinci's notebook would be perfectly within…  See more details below

Overview

Some of the world's greatest treasures are hidden away and haven't been seen publicly for decades, sometimes for centuries. Others have been destroyed. They are not stolen property. They are simply private property, and no matter their public significance, the public has no claims on them. A capricious owner of Leonardo da Vinci's notebook would be perfectly within his rights to throw it in the fireplace, as James Joyce's grandson did with letters from the author's daughter, or Warren Harding's widow did with her husband's Teapot Dome papers. This is a book about such rights and why they are wrong.. "Playing Darts with a Rembrandt explores abuses of ownership of cultural treasures in a wide range of settings, including material of historic and scientific interest as well as art and antiquities. It examines the claims made on behalf of the public for preservation, protection, and access to important artifacts, balancing those claims against proprietary and privacy interests, and discusses the proper role of institutions such as museums and libraries that act as repositories. Acknowledging the complexities that sometimes arise (such as the claims of history against the desire of a great figure's family to withhold private letters), in the end it proposes a new species of qualified ownership, to own an object of great public importance is to become a "fortunate, if provisional, trustee, having no right to deprive others who value the objects as much as they do themselves.". "The fascinating stories that comprise the bulk of the book, ranging from dinosaur excavations and the Dead Sea Scrolls to the fate of presidential papers and the secrets held by the Library of Congress, will be ofinterest to a wide range of general readers. The extensive discussion of collectors and their role should commend the book to those in the art world, as well as to those professionally associated with museums, libraries, and archives. While written in a r

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780472087846
Publisher:
University of Michigan Press
Publication date:
04/02/2001
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,414,380
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

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