Press Release

Hunt Museum Press Release: Hunt Museum Announces Group to Review Recent Allegations

20 February 2004: The Hunt Museum has announced the membership of [the] Review Group which is to examine the allegations made by the Centre Wiesenthal about the Hunt Collection.

The members of [the] Group will be
- Mr. Justice Donal Barrington
- Ms. Anne Webber
- Mr. Hugh Tait

Mr. Barrington is a former High Court and Supreme Court Judge and he also served as a member of the European Court. In 2002 Mr. Barrington was appointed as the first President of the Irish Commission of Human Rights. Having a long career in Ireland and Europe, the former judge is well appraised of issues pertaining to both Irish and European law.

Ms. Anne Webber, is a founder and co-chair at the London - based, Commission for Looted Art in Europe, a non-profit expert body set up in 1999 to identify, trace and recover cultural property looted between 1933 and 1945 on behalf of families and institutions worldwide. It represents the European Council of Jewish Communities (ECJC) and the Conference of European Rabbis (CER).

Ms. Webber is also founding Director of the Central Registry of Information on Looted Cultural Property 1933-1945, www.lootedart.com, an international research centre and repository of information on Nazi art looting. She is a member of the British Spoliation Advisory Committee, established by the National Museums Directors' Conference, which supervises the provenance research work of British museums for the Holocaust and World War ll period, and is a member of the editorial board of the 'Spoils of War' journal.

Mr. Hugh Tait, former Deputy Keeper, Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities at the British Museum. A graduate of Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute, Hugh Tait is an internationally recognized expert in the area of European antiquities from the early Christian era to the beginning of the nineteenth century. He is the UK government's official expert for the Export of Works of Art Committee; a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; Honorary Fellow of Corning Museum of Glass, New York; a member of the Worship Company of Goldsmith's Antique Plate Committee; President of the International Society for the Historical Association for the History of Glass; past president of the Society of Jewelry historians. Tait has published widely on the decorative arts including specialist work on Renaissance enamels, goldsmith work, horology and sculpture. At the British Museum he was responsible for curating exhibitions such as The Golden Age of Venetian Art; Treasures from Romania; Jewelry through 7,000 years and 5,000 Years of Glass and many other exhibitions.

Statement from the Director
Virginia Teehan, Director of the Hunt Museum, said today "I am very confident that the composition of the review group will guarantee an independent process of enquiry and ensure that we will get to the bottom of these allegations. It will convene at a location away from the Museum and is totally separate from the Museum in every aspect of its operation. The Group comprises people with very specific and unique expertise directly relevant to this situation. All members are distinguished in their areas of work and respected internationally. I am certain that the Group will present an accurate, fair and balanced result. We are initiating this exercise in a spirit of professionalism and co-operation. I hope that all those with relevant information to participate fully in the process."

The group will be convened within the next three weeks. Initially, they will concentrate on clarifying their exact terms of reference as well as devising a plan of work, including a projected timeframe, with review points. It is planned that the group will present a completed report to the Hunt Museums Trust and Hunt Museum Ltd. as quickly as possible after its establishment. The completed report will be referred, unedited, to Mr. John O'Donoghue, TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism.

Appointment of Archivist
In relation to Museum's archive, Ms Teehan said that 'The Society of Archivists, the chartered association representing archivists in the UK and Ireland, has been formally invited to nominate an archivist to compile a detailed list of the contents of the archive. The process of engagement of the archivist is in final stages of negotiation'. She confirmed that 'once this listing process is finished and the catalogue completed the archive will be fully available for consultation without exception. We have nothing to hide in this exercise'.

Finally Ms. Teehan stated that the work to place the list the artefacts on the Museum's website has already started.

Notes for Editor
This arises from a letter from Centre Simon Wiesenthal sent to President McAleese which contained allegations about business activities and associates of John and Gertrude Hunt and about the provenance of the Hunt Collection. The letter was initially referred by the President to the Department of the Taoiseach and subsequently referred to Mr John O'Donoghue TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, who has requested that the Museum takes 'action to satisfy itself in regard to the allegations made in the letter in so far as they relate to the collections'.

Issue date: 20th February 2004

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