Upcoming Events

Given the current rapidly developing circumstances, and the institutional travel and conference restrictions imposed on some of the speakers and participants, Violated National Heritage: Theft, Trafficking and Restitutions (17 March 2020 at the V&A) will be postponed, most likely until late June.

All original bookings will be maintained for the new date. We will update attendees and members as soon as we have more information on the updated event date.

Violated National Heritage: Theft, Trafficking and Restitution

To be determined.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre Cromwell Road London SW7 2RL

Have you ever wondered how ancient art from countries such as Egypt, Greece and Rome came to fill European and American museums? And how did national Pacific collections come into being? This conference, with a dynamic list of international speakers, will address how collecting has developed since the 16th century, and how, over the centuries, it has been regulated, even circumvented in various ways. It will also look beyond the boundaries of legal trade of art and artefacts to consider how the criminal orbit operates, how heritage-rich countries confront the trafficking of their patrimony and how museums are involved in such debates.

This conference will not tackle the Parthenon marbles debate nor war booty, but it will raise issues around patrimony laws, looting, trafficking, faking provenance and money laundering. Presentations on particular historical contexts will be followed by talks focusing on the contemporary situation, including the policing and voluntary restitution versus surrender of objects as the result of investigative evidence. Trafficking takes many forms and may include forgeries in order to satisfy demand. Both source and receiving countries have sharpened their laws, policing and prosecutions.

This conference is aimed not only at students but also art world and museum professionals, indeed at anyone interested to hear the latest information, much of which is unpublished, and to learn more about the realities behind these key issues.


Vernon Rapley (Director of Cultural Heritage Protection and Security) & Laura Jones (Cultural Heritage Preservation Lead): The V&A’s Culture in Crisis Programme;

Barbara Furlotti (The Courtauld), on the Roman Antiquities Market during the Renaissance;

Hilke Thode Arora, Keeper Oceanic collections (Museum Fünf Kontinente, Munich), on Pacific ‘gifts’;

Eleni Vassilika, Former museum director (Hildesheim and Turin), on the operations of placing illicit Egyptian antiquities in museums;

Christos Tsirogiannis, Assoc. Prof. and AIAS-COFUND Research Fellow, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Aarhus, formerly at the Archaeological Unit at Cambridge, as well as the Greek Ministry of Culture and the Greek Police Art Squad, on recent restitutions to Greece;

Omniya Abdel Barr, V&A researcher and project director for the documentation of Mamluk patrimony in Cairo, on the theft of elements from mosques (minbar);

Ian Richardson, Registrar for Treasure Trove (The British Museum), on how the TTAct functions;

Roland Foord, Senior Partner, Stephenson Harwood LLP, on procedures for restitution.

The day will end with a Drinks Reception.

The Society for the History of Collecting is grateful to the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards and the Gilbert Trust for the Arts for their support in making this event possible. 


Please reserve your seat on Eventbrite (click here for the link)

Tricks of the Trade: Duveen Brothers and the Market for the Decorative Arts, 1880–1940

Wednesday, 15 April 2020 at 7:00 PM
The Getty Center

Drawing from her recent publication, Duveen Brothers and the Market for Decorative Arts, 1880–1940 (2019), curator and professor Charlotte Vignon discusses the commercial strategies and the relationships with preeminent collectors, including J. P. Morgan, that led this prominent art and antiques dealer to dominate the transatlantic art market from the late 19th to the mid-20th century.

Charlotte Vignon is director of the Heritage and Collections department at Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique and a visiting associate professor at the Bard Graduate Center, New York.

SHC Members are invited to the lecture and reception. Hosted by Getty Research Institute, Project for the Study of Collecting and Provenance.

Please reserve your seat (click here for more information and tickets)

Visit to Stourhead

Saturday, 9 May 2020, 10.30AM-4PM

We have organised a Society tour to Stourhead in Wiltshire to view the house and tour the gardens between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 9th May. In the morning we will tour the house with Stourhead expert Dudley Dodd, author of past Stourhead guidebooks as well as a book on the Peretti Cabinet that was bought by Henry Hoare II in 1740 whilst on Grand Tour in Rome. After lunch we will tour the 18th-century English Landscape garden by Society member John Harrison.

The planned schedule for the day is as follows:
10.30am   Meet at Gillingham (Dorset) railway station for taxi transfer to Stourhead*
11am-1pm   Tour of Stourhead House with special visit to view the garden temple furniture now stored in the basement of the house.
1-2pm   Lunch
2-4pm   Garden Tour
4pm   Depart to Gillingham station

* The timetable for May 2020 is not yet available, but an 8.20am departure is expected

We hope very much that members will join us for this special event. Henry Hoare II is perhaps best known for his landscape garden, but he was also an accomplished collector and patron of new artists. A number of significant pieces were lost in the 1883 Heirloom sale, including pieces by Rembrandt, Poussin and an early Gainsborough landscape. Happily, items by artists favoured by 18th-century collectors (Poussin, Dughet & Rosa) are still well represented in the collection, as well as more unusual items by artists such as Lagrenée.

Final details of the event and tickets will be available through Eventbrite.

If you have any questions, please contact: info@societyhistorycollecting.org