Cultural Heritage 2.0: Participatory Stewardship

November 3, 2011



In honor of the pro-active stewardship of Dominique de Menil who worked with the Church of Cyprus to rescue, restore and build a consecrated space to house two stolen frescoes, the Menil Collection and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel conducted a roundtable discussion centered on the topic of cultural heritage on the evening of November 3, 2011. The aim of the discussion was to begin a larger conversation about the standards and laws by which cultural heritage has been governed in the past and to begin thinking about innovative ways to approach cultural heritage going into the future. Largely based on claims of ultimate ownership, approaches to cultural heritage have proved inadequate to address the myriad of stakeholders involved. The roundtable enabled a discussion of how a variety of professionals from other fields such as business, bio-medical ethics, anthropology and art history encounter and negotiate constricted or outdated legal frameworks that fail to adapt to changing notions of property.
Kristina Van Dyke, the Menil Collection’s recent former Curator for Collections and Research and now the director of the Pulitzer Foundation in St. Louis, moderated the discussion. She was joined by Rex Koontz, Director of the School of Art at the University of Houston and a pre-Columbian art expert; James Leach, an anthropologist from University of Aberdeen and author of Rationales of Ownership: Transactions and Claims to Ownership in Contemporary Papua New Guinea; Kirstin Matthews, a fellow in Science and Technology Policy at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University; Joseph Flowers, a Schlumberger engineer involved in many American and foreign patents and Robin Nava, Worldwide General Counsel for Well Services at Schlumberger.
For more background on this panel, please read Kristina Van Dyke's remarks which are available here.