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Stanford Museum to repatriate art objects

STANFORD -- Stanford University Museum of Art officials will return more than 200 pre-Columbian art objects, mostly minor works in stone and clay, to their countries of origin, Costa Rica and Ecuador.

Museum director Thomas K. Seligman will make the official presentation at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, at the museum. Accepting the objects will be Natalia Jimenez, Costa Rican consul in San Francisco, and Ecuadorean consul Ximena Cordovez.

Seligman proposed and negotiated the repatriation of the art objects, which date from 500 to 1500 A.D. and represent various cultures, including the Huetar and Chorotega of Costa Rica, and the Panzaleo and Manteno of Ecuador. The objects include numerous terra cotta vessels, several small stone figures, jade and greenstone pendants, and clay molds used in making heads and figurines. None of the pieces are architectural elements.

The objects were given to the museum more than a decade ago. When university officials learned that the objects had not been properly imported into the United States, they and the donor agreed to rescind the gift, and to repatriate the pieces.

Their return, Seligman said, "is consistent with the Stanford Museum of Art's policy of respecting the export laws of other countries and international agreements in order to support efforts to protect archeological sites."

Seligman is a specialist in the repatriation of cultural property and serves on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee to the President of the United States.

The Stanford Museum, Seligman said, has a rigorous policy with regard to the acquisition of works of art that may be part of a cultural patrimony. It adheres to the terms of the 1970 UNESCO convention that sets standards for international transfers of cultural property. The museum will not acquire works that appear to have been exported in violation of the laws of the country of origin, Seligman said.



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