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ICOM Red List of Dominican Cultural Objects at Risk

ICOM Red List of Dominican Cultural Objects at Risk

ICOM officially announces the publication of its new Red List: the Red List of Dominican Cultural Objects at Risk

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The International Council of Museums (ICOM) continues its fight against illicit traffic in cultural objects with the publication of a new Red List: the Red List of Dominican Cultural Objects at Risk. The document aims to complete the protection devices for the island of Hispaniola, initiated by the publication in 2010 of the Emergency Red List of Haitian Cultural Objects at Risk, drafted following the earthquake which shook the country.

The Red List will be officially presented at the Museo Memorial de la Resistencia Dominicana in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Tuesday 9 July 2013 at 6.30 p.m. The event will take place in the presence of heritage professionals, government and law enforcement representatives and members of the press. ICOM Executive Council member and Director of the museum, Luisa de Peña Diaz, will officially represent the organisation on this occasion, and will introduce the Red List to the attendees.

The event will be followed the next day, 10 July, at 10 a.m. by a Seminar on illicit traffic in cultural goods, also at the Museo Memorial de la Resistencia Dominicana.

The ICOM Red Lists are important, effective tools designed to help police and customs officials, heritage professionals and art and antiquities dealers identify the types of objects that are most susceptible to illicit trafficking and therefore subject to smuggling and illicit trade. This initiative aims to raise awareness among the local population, law enforcement officials and the international art and antiquities market.

The Red List of Dominican Cultural Objects at Risk was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Federal Office for Culture of the Swiss Confederation.

The document presents categories of objects spanning from the Pre-Hispanic period to the Colonial and Republican eras, and presents a wide variety of objects including those of religious origin, coins and sculptures. Due to the great diversity of objects, styles and periods, the Red List of Dominican Cultural Objects at Risk is far from exhaustive. Any cultural object that could have originated in the Dominican Republic should be subjected to detailed scrutiny and precautionary measures.

The Dominican Republic, recognizing the significance of its cultural richness, formally acknowledged the importance of protecting this heritage and has started to approve national laws since as far back as 1903.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti both recognise that the illicit excavation of archaeological sites and theft from collections damages the connection between an object and its context. In turn, this prevents accurate identification and diminishes an object’s cultural and historical significance. The resulting gaps impoverish the understanding of the region’s history. 

Despite these efforts, Hispaniola’s cultural goods remain subject to illicit trafficking. Theft, looting and illegal trade and export are constant threats to the preservation of national heritage. Fighting the illicit trafficking of cultural goods is everyone’s responsibility in preserving the invaluable witnesses of both countries’ and humankind’s evolution, history and artistic expression.

The Red List helps art and heritage collectors, professionals and customs and police officials identify Dominican cultural objects. Museums, auction houses, art dealers and collectors are encouraged not to acquire these without having carefully and thoroughly researched their origin and all the relevant national and international legal documentation.

The fight against illicit traffic in cultural goods requires the enhancement of both legal and practical instruments that will disseminate information and raise public awareness. By launching this new Red List, ICOM is reiterating its firm commitment to the protection of cultural heritage.