Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cornelius C. Vermeule III, a Curator of Classical Antiquities, Is Dead at 83

On December 9, 2008, the New York Times ran an obituary for Cornelius C. Vermeule III, formerly the curator of classical antiquities at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. It can be found here:

The obituary covers Vermeule's illustrious career that started at a time when the archaeological and museum communities were collaborators and not adversaries over "who owns the past." Indeed, Vermeule himself exemplified the level of collaboration; he even met his future wife, an archaeologist, at an AIA meeting! Sadly, Vermeule also witnessed first hand how mutual suspicion and hostility gradually replaced that cooperation, as members of the archaeological community began to champion the nationalistic stance of source countries under the theory that harsh laws and restitution claims help preserve archaeological context.

I never met Cornelius Veremeule, but I am aware he was also a serious ancient coin collector who gave generously to his institution. Back in 1997, CNG auctioned off some his ancient Roman bronze coins to benefit the museum. At the time, I was lucky enough to win a Sestertius of Marcus Aurelius with a "Fides Exercitvvm" reverse. It remains an important part of my own collection.

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