Thursday, January 04, 2007

Curator Constables

The Art Newspaper reports that the London police are looking to recruit curators and art historians to volunteer to join their Art and Antiquities Unit:

"Special Constables are being recruited from museums such as the Victoria & Albert and the British Museum, universities, insurance companies and other cultural organisations. After four weeks training in police procedure as well as specialist art squad techniques, volunteers will be sponsored by their employers to work as Special Constables for 200 hours a year or one day a fortnight. They will be uniformed and will have full police powers."

The program is set to begin in April. Derek Fincham is skeptical: "What self-respecting art dealer would risk damage to his reputation by putting on a police uniform and patrolling the streets of London, looking for stolen masterpieces ...? The measure seems a bit bizarre, and if authorities in London are actually serious about limiting the trade in illicit cultural property, there are much better, more practical ways to proceed."

Edward Winkleman sees a possible upside: "There's a possible post-prison career option for the high-profile curators in danger of being convicted of smuggling antiquities out of Europe's ancient sites (you know, the 'it takes one to know one' line of reasoning), no?"