Thursday, 6 July 2017


Our thanks to Super Punch for investigating past the headlines into the US Department of Justice suit against an American craft and hobby outlet’s founder for the illicit importation of ancient Middle Eastern artefacts.

Rather infamous already for refusing to comply with provisions of the Affordable Care Act and withheld compensation for the covered medical expense of contraception for its employees on religious objections, the family that owns the chain of stores massed a purloined collection of some five thousand scrolls, tablets (not pictured) and other relics smuggled out of the region by dealers under the guise of business samples. Plunder doesn’t necessarily need a further explanation but it turns out the motivation lie in a DIY project that the family was backing in Washington, DC: the Museum of the Bible is slated to open in November of this year, just off the National Mall and across the street from the US Department of Education. The privately-funded museum will display Biblical antiquities, showcasing the family’s sizable and questionable collection, and feature a research centre and an immersive augmented reality experience. Such passions and eccentricities are fine provided that no one’s hurt in the process, but given that the Cosplay Caliphate is receives its financial support through the sales of looted artefacts from Iraq and Syria, we’re too late for that already. The acquisition of the heritage and treasure of another culture by museums is always a subject fraught with controversy and begs questions of repatriation and cultural appropriation but touring galleries that reflects recent practices in pilfering and contributes to slaughter and strife and the undermining of regional stability seems perverse and wholly inappropriate.